Freedom for Me, Not For Thee

L.A. recently passed a minimum wage increase to $15/hr.  One of the biggest supporters of this legislation was organized labor.  Now that it’s passed, they seek to repeal it (but just for them).

Before I get into the meat of this post, let me first say I have no philosophical problems with labor.  It’s blatant hypocrisy I despise.

Anyhoo, back on track.  Now that the wage hike is increased, labor leaders are asking that unionized firms be exempt from it.  Here’s why:

But Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.

“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them,” Hicks said in a statement. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”

Source: LA Times

I agree with Hicks position 100%, but his logic applies not just to labor unions, but to all laborers, union or otherwise.  As he rightly notes, minimum wage prevents parties from negotiating an agreement that works for both parties and allows each to prioritize what is important to them.  The individual, just like the union, may face a situation where working for a wage below the minimum is preferable to other options (say, for example, s/he cannot jet a job for the minimum).  Minimum wage, as Hicks rightly notes, eliminates that freedom.  There is nothing special about labor unions that mean they deserve more freedoms than the individual.

I am glad Hicks is doing the right thing for his membership to get them exempt from minimum wage legislation, but I just wish he wasn’t doing it at the expense of non-unionized workers.

3 thoughts on “Freedom for Me, Not For Thee

  1. Two Things:

    1. I’m really glad too see that many of your recent posts have abandonned approach of bullying democrats (mainly Reich and Sanders) and have been quality conversation starters. I hope this new direction continues and that you can more easily reach out to those on the other side as well as your followers.

    2. I think you are missing something here. The party that proposed the minimum wage increase is NOT looking to repeal it. They are merely suggesting that those who have the ability to collectively bargain should be able to have freer negtiations with their employer. Both Rusty Hicks and his supporters acknowledge that unions have more negotiation power than the individual, and I know that if you were a labourer you would agree. I know this to be true from being on both sides of the negotiation process. What Hicks says is absolutely true: Exempting enterprises with established unions from the minimum wage would absolutely balance the power. This exemption would not work with individuals. I have personally seen the failure of that theory in both Ireland and California. The exemption is to encourage the formation of unions so that workers have a better opportunity to level with their employers.

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    • “The exemption is to encourage the formation of unions so that workers have a better opportunity to level with their employers.”

      The reverse would be true as well. The formation of unions would also allow employers to have a more honest negotiation with their employees as well.

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    • 1) I really don’t give a shit if you think I’m bullying or not. if they don’t want to be called out on the carpet, they shouldn’t be public figures.

      2) bargaining power is irrelevant to the matter at hand. If a union may face a situation where a wage below minimum is optimal, so may an individual. There is no reason why a union deserves more freedom than an individual.

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