'Fighting for Fifteen?' You Are Being Used.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Sean Higgins of the Washington Examiner raises a question nobody else seems to have asked regarding the push to raise the federal minimum wage: "Why $15?"

Yes, the round figure is easy for cynical politicians to turn into a slogan, but the answer is more interesting and sordid than you might think:

Image by Fibonacci Blue, via Wikimedia Commons, license.
Unions picked $15 a decade ago because it was a "firm round number" that would help with organizing. The goal was not necessarily for workers to make that much, however, and, at least initially, they even offered a way around it. It worked like this: The unions pushed friendly local government leaders to raise their minimum wages to $15. These local ordinances included a major exception: Employers could avoid paying the minimum wage if those workers were unionized. In other words, the high minimum wage was intended as an incentive to get employers to not only drop opposition to unions but to seek them out so the companies could negotiate deals to pay workers less. [bold added]
Reading further, one will see that there are even economists on the left who acknowledge what many conservatives mistakenly offer as their primary argument against such a steep hike (in many places) to the minimum wage: It will cause unemployment.

The fact that the left is treating this fact of economic reality as a feature and not a bug should disturb, if not anger, anyone who would like to work or hire on their own terms: To the extent this crusade succeeds, your freedom of contract will be violated more than it already is.

Labor unions hold themselves out as guardians of workers' interests and here they are endangering the jobs of workers by supporting steep increases in labor costs. These costs could be in the form of artificial, government-mandated labor price increases -- or in the form of union dues and interference by a third party that has already proved itself untrustworthy.

-- CAV

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