Opinion Piece by Samuel Strait – April 13, 2016 – Well it didn’t take long for the cat to come out of the proverbial bag regarding the State government’s current love affair with low wage earners and the epic rise of the minimum wage. After a heavy dose of lobbying by labor unions to correct the burden placed upon those that work for $10.50 per hour ( the minimum wage for all workers in California as of January 2016) the Democratically controlled state house and assembly couldn’t wait to meddle in the economic welfare of the State by voting to once again raise the minimum wage. Of course they and “Moonbeam” Jerry Brown see it as a way to increase tax revenues and decrease an expensive entitlement outlay to the very same people that they insist that they are helping. Give a small amount with one hand, all the while planning on taking an even larger amount back with the other hand. After all, that’s what “good government” is supposed to be all about, isn’t it?
So when the dust settles and the State legislators are all racing to figure out how they are going to spend the extra money, what is in it for the labor unions which made such a heavy handed effort to see it happen. At first it would seem that it was an effort by them to raise starting union wages, most commendable. But wait a second. Hold on! It would seem that before the ink was even dry, labor unions are busily inserting new rules in various minimum wage increase regulations so that they should be exempt from the wage increases because they provide collective bargaining. At this point I think everyone with a brain should smell a large stinky rat.
The minimum wage increase wasn’t really about improving the lot of the low wage earners at all, and it pretty clearly isn’t going to benefit them at all. It may actually place them in even worse conditions than they face currently. This was about propping up labor unions whose membership numbers and union due income were in steep decline. The labor unions ( a process already begun in Los Angeles and Santa Monica) would be able to exempt themselves from paying minimum wage and increases to union members already above minimum wage in order to be able to begin unionizing businesses by offering lower wage employees. Kind of defeats the purpose of a minimum wage hike. Of course once the businesses went union, then the labor unions could step in and insist that the newly unionized businesses pay the increased minimum wage. The employee, now unionized, would be asked to contribute money to the union for collective bargaining, and sundry other union activities. With the increase in revenue the unions could now continue to be that political slush fund that Democrats in the State government have come to rely on. Double dipping at the legislative level, how could it get any better.
In the end, low wage earners, at least those that continue to work, would be faced with loss of previously taken entitlements, increased income tax, inflation on just about everything, if unionized, union dues and fund raisers, all at below minimum wage initially, sounds like a “real” bargain for the newly minted $15.00 per hour worker. Of course our smug elected officials in Sacramento and the unions are counting on the public to continue thinking that this is a really good idea. $15.00 an hour right?