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.