Right Hooks

Los Angeles Labor Leaders Want Minimum Wage Exemption

Jordan Candler · May 28, 2015

Oh the irony. Fourteen Los Angeles council members recently voted to incrementally raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Considering a whopping 50% of the city’s workforce makes minimum wage, the new law is bound to have significant ramifications — which may explain this oddity from the Los Angeles Times: “Labor leaders, who were among the strongest supporters of the citywide minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are advocating last-minute changes to the law that could create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces.” Rusty Hocks with the Federation of Labor defended the proposed exemption by opining, “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.” Yet, as the Times notes, “For much of the past eight months, labor activists have argued against special considerations for business owners, such as restaurateurs, who said they would have trouble complying with the mandated pay increase.” In other words, labor leaders want the flexibility to negotiate a mutually fair hourly wage — one that may very well fall below $15 — while forcing non-unionized businesses to comply with an admittedly harmful law. The Left, it seems, doesn’t want to raise the minimum wage so much as coerce businesses into joining a union, which would then translate into political capital.

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