It’s as if they want to prove that the motto of liberalism should be “do as I say not as I do.”
Labor unions in the city of Los Angeles are requesting an exemption from the law passed last year that will raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020. It’s a hypocritical move as those same unions who fought for and helped to shove the bill through the city council in the first place.
The AFL-CIO is asking for an exemption because they want the freedom to negotiate contracts where their members would get lower wages but those wages would be offset by better benefits like in health care. That’s an option not available to the non- union employees. Many of those workers will have their hours cut-back, or their jobs eliminated because of the hike. Eventually all workers may have to pay higher prices for goods as companies will have find a way to compensate for the higher labor costs.
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“I know it’s a job killer,” said former McDonald’s USA CEO Ed Rensi on Fox Business Monday about the $15 mandatory minimum wage. “The franchises are going to do what they need to do in order to survive, and that means they’re going to raise prices and cut costs, which means getting rid of people because the No. 1 component after food costs is labor costs. There’s just no way around it.”
But the unions don’t care, they may have looked good to workers by fighting for the minimum wage increase expending big chunks of the members dues. For example, an analysis by Center for Union Facts found that nationally the SEIU spent about $20m on Fight for $15 in 2015. But that doesn’t matter to labor union leaders because like most politicians their first priority is protecting themselves:
“The argument for a union exemption for minimum wage is that workers represented by unions have the ability to bargain for a combination of wages, benefits and working conditions that works best for them,” Chris Tilly, an urban planning professor at the University of California, Los Angeles told CNBC last year. “The idea is that their interests are being met.”
And workers are not stupid, they realize that union leadership is only out for themselves. That knowledge may be the driving force behind the decline of the labor movement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, about 14.8 million workers belonged to labor unions. In 1983, when the US Department of Labor first began tracking the number of workers who belonged to labor unions, the union membership rate was 20.1%. Last year, it was 11.1%. It is reasonable to assume that if all 50 states passed right to work laws instead of the present 25, that 11.1% union membership rate would be much lower.
Other cities in California which have enacted their own $15 minimum wage bills (including San Jose, Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco, and Long Beach) have also passed clauses exempting unions in their minimum wage bills.
Some might claim that the unions are pressing for exemptions that will hurt their membership, but it goes beyond that, after all the motto of liberalism should be “do as I say not as I do.”