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Minimum wage hypocrisy: A union busts itself

May 30. 2015 5:59PM

Minimum wages are and always have been tools used by labor unions to benefit themselves at the expense of people willing to start working at a lower wage. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor helpfully illustrated this truth last week.

The union was a leader in the Raise the Wage movement that pressured Los Angeles to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour, which the city council approved the week before last. Immediately, Rusty Hicks, head of the county Federation of Labor, asked for a labor union exemption.

"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," the Los Angeles Times reported Hicks saying in a statement. "This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing."

There you have it. The freedom to choose other benefits over a higher wage "is a good thing" - but only for union members. Everyone else must be forced to accept a higher wage over, say, a flexible work schedule, better health benefits, more autonomy, etc.

A vice president with the L.A. Chamber of Commerce nailed it when he told the Times, "Once again, the soaring rhetoric of helping the working poor is just a cover for city government acting as a tool of organized labor."

Manhattan Institue economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth points out that labor unions have pressed for higher minimum wages followed by union exemptions in cities all across America. They often have won both. The result is predictable.

Businesses unionize so they can pay lower wages. Unions gain members who never otherwise would have joined, and unemployment rises as non-union businesses hire fewer people so they can afford to pay the higher mandated wages.

A better option would be to allow everyone the freedom "to negotiate an agreement that works for them," as Hicks put it. There is no reason this freedom should be limited to union members.


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