UNIONS LEAD CONSPIRACY TO KEEP WAGES DEPRESSED and fill their pockets for doing so!
By Marc Wells
After spearheading the “Raise the Wage” and “Fight for $15” campaigns in Los Angeles, unions are now calling for exemptions from the new minimum wage draft law for employers that agree to unionize their workplaces and deduct dues money from workers’ paychecks.
1 June 2015
The Los Angeles City Council on May 19 voted for the drafting of a proposal to raise the minimum wage. A new law is expected to be finalized later this month.
Before the ink on the draft was dry, Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) made a direct appeal for a waiver that would allow companies to hire unionized workers at a lower wage than the mandated one.
“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 a week after the City Council vote. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”
The fact that Hicks cynically presents the imposition of sub-minimum wages as some sort of democratic freedom only underscores what the trade union apparatus means by “collective bargaining rights.” Far from speaking for the “employees,” the unions bargain to protect the business interests of the executives who run them—at the direct expense of the workers they falsely claim to represent.
In the aftermath of the council vote, Hicks declared, “We are one step closer to making history in Los Angeles by adopting a comprehensive minimum wage policy that will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of hard-working Angelenos. The City Council’s action today creates a path for workers to succeed and gives our economy the boost it needs to grow.”
In fact, the proposed ordinance will not bring wages up to $15 an hour until 2020 and includes many loopholes for small businesses, tipped employees and others. Even with the increase, moreover, a worker would earn an annual wage that is barely above the official poverty threshold for a family of four, and this in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
The “path to success” is reserved for the trade union bureaucrats like Hicks who see the possibility of an influx of tens of thousands of new dues-paying members. The benefits of being a “union member,” however, will be to earn less than the minimum wage!
This is a damning exposure of the trade unions, which have functioned for more than three decades as direct instruments of the corporations and the government, overseeing a relentless erosion of living standards and working conditions in the name of making American big business more profitable and competitive.
Facing an increasing number of states that have adopted Republican “Right-to-Work” laws, which make union membership and dues payment optional in unionized workplaces, the “growth strategy” of the AFL-CIO is to demonstrate their value to employers as the enforcer of speedups, labor discipline and poverty wages.
In this they have received the support of a significant section of the Democratic Party establishment, which sees the utility of the unions in suppressing opposition to further wage cutting and austerity. The International Socialist Organization, Socialist Alternative and other pseudo-left groups have also championed the Fight for $15 campaign in an effort to revive the credibility of the trade unions.
In city after city, minimum wage laws have included union exemptions. The pro-business US Chamber of Commerce published an extraordinary report last year, “Labor’s Minimum Wage Exemptions: Unions as the ‘Low-Cost’ Options” which provided details about many of these ordinances.
The so-called “escape clause,” the document says, “is often designed to encourage unionization by making a labor union the potential ‘low-cost’ alternative to new wage mandates, and it raises serious questions about whom these minimum wage laws are actually intended to benefit.”
Adopting a cautionary tone, the Chamber of Commerce complains that these campaigns are essentially Trojan Horses for unions to gain a foothold among employers, and warns “the business community, the media, and the public to more closely examine the content of proposed minimum wage laws and the true impetus behind their passage,” as “it would be wise to read the fine prints.”
There are numerous examples of such waivers.
In Los Angeles, the hotel union, UNITE HERE Local 11, was able to increase its membership more than 50 percent between 2007 and 2013, thanks to a waiver the city included in a minimum wage increase for hotel workers. Proportionally, Local 11’s revenue jumped almost 70 percent. Last year’s hotels contract also included a similar waiver clause, in fact a confirmation of it from previous agreements and ordinances.
San Francisco—the most expensive city in California—provides a similar case. In 2003, collective bargaining waiver language was approved by the city. Consequently, UNITE HERE Local 2 saw membership grow from 8,000 to 14,000 in the following 10 years.
Last November, the Minimum Wage Act of 2014, a ballot initiative sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, raised the rate to $15 for all employers by 2018. The waiver language was left in place, giving businesses a way to opt out, provided they unionize their workplaces.
The list in California is long: in Long Beach, Measure N, a living wage ballot measure was passed in November 2012 pertaining to hotel workers. The measure contained not only a waiver on minimum wage, but also on other living cost increases and paid sick leave.
In Oakland a minimum wage ballot initiative passed in 2014, which includes a waiver on any and all terms of the measure. Likewise, San Jose also approved its own minimum wage ballot measure in 2012, which contains a union escape clause. In Richmond similar ordinances were passed, including last year, all of which contained union-sponsored exemptions.
California is not an exception. In 2014, Milwaukee County adopted a minimum wage ordinance after a county board overrode County Executive Chris Abele’s veto. Abele’s statement correctly pointed to the collusion and partnership between unions and employers, saying, “This means that an employer would not have to actually pay this higher wage to its employees, if that employer collects union member fees from its employees.”
Last December, Chicago also passed a measure increasing the minimum wage to $13 by 2019. The ordinance clearly states, “[A] union may waive its members’ rights to collect the minimum wage as part of a collective bargaining agreement.”
The case of SeaTac, a suburb of Seattle, Washington, is most instructive. Proposition 1 was passed in 2013 to increase wages for hospitality and transportation workers. The measure at the time established the highest minimum wage—$15 per hour—in the US. Despite a judge striking down parts of the law, the union escape clause provided bosses an opt-out, which negates the wage increase and various benefits, from paid sick leave to hiring preferences.
A group called “Working Washington,” a front for the SEIU, worked hard toward the implementation of Prop 1. They were also behind the recent minimum wage hike voted by Seattle’s City Council. This is the same union that supports, and is supported by, councilmember Kshama Sawant of Socialist Alternative.
Last November, during a protest in support of Proposition 1 against the legal hurdles it has encountered, Sawant openly expressed her support for the SeaTac waiver contract and singled it out as the basis for future similar agreements, “It was the courage of SeaTac workers and their victory at the ballot that made $15/hour possible in Seattle.”
After decades of betrayals, the unions are incapable of boosting membership through appeal to workers. Instead, with the backing of a host of pseudo-left supporters, the minimum wage ploy is being used to entice employers to install unions in their workplaces and funnel money from workers’ already meager paychecks into the bank accounts of the union executives.
Jobless rate is a national scandal, and nobody in Washington cares
DURING OBAMA’S FIRST TERM, TWO-THIRDS OF ALL JOBS WENT TO IMMIGRANTS, BOTH LEGAL AND ILLEGAL. OBAMA SABOTAGED E-VERIFY TO EASE MORE LA RAZA MEXICANS INTO OUR JOBS and VOTING BOOTHS!
US Congress to vote on union-backed plan to cut workers’ pensions
Workers have functioned as junior partners in the
impoverishment and exploitation of the working class,
suppressing any opposition to the attack on living standards.
both big business parties, which have slashed food stamps and long-term unemployment
benefits. The White House, which orchestrated the slashing of wages in the auto industry
restructuring of 2009, has made the lowering of living standards for US workers the
centerpiece of its so-called revival of American manufacturing.
percent, with mid-wage male workers seeing a 16 percent
drop, the study found. Workers without a high school
diploma suffered a 46.3 percent fall in wages, while workers
with only a high school diploma lost 32.1 percent, and those
holding a bachelor’s degree lost 4 percent.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce to assault the AMERICAN
WORKER…. Amnesty, it’s all about keeping wages depressed
and passing along the real cost of all that “cheap” mex labor to
the American middle class.
PARTY BASE OF ILLEGALS!
L.A. at large
L.A. unions accused of hypocrisy in
minimum wage push
Los Angeles' plan for a citywide $15 minimum wage hit a last-minute snag when the organized labor groups that had been pushing for it demanded an exception for unionized businesses. That is, they want unionized workers to be able to be paid less than the new minimum.
The call has provoked anger from other supporters of the higher wage and charges of hypocrisy from business groups and their allies who have opposed the increase.
Rusty Hicks, executive secretary of the Los Angeles County AFL-CIO, nevertheless said Wednesday that unionized companies need to be excepted from paying the new minimum wage. He argued that mandating that all workers get paid $15 an hour would hurt the collective bargaining process.
"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. This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing," Hicks told the Los Angeles Times.
Hicks is also a leader of L.A. Raise The Wage, a coalition group that has pushed for the increase over the past eight months. On its website, the coalition calls for "$15.25/hr for every full time worker," as well as "strong enforcement that holds all employers accountable to the law." The language on the web page does not include an exception for unionized businesses. It had previously opposed loopholes in the new ordinance for small businesses.
Unions argue they need to have the flexibility during collective bargaining. In theory, the workers are trading it away for something else, such as better benefits. Neither the L.A. AFL-CIO nor L.A. Raise the Wage responded to a request for comment.
The calls came at the eleventh hour. The City Council voted last week to raise the wage and Mayor Eric Garcetti has said he supports it. But it might not be too late. On Thursday, he told reporters he was open to revisiting the proposal.
"I think a lot of people have opinions, whether it's business or labor, or stakeholders. We'll always listen to that," the mayor told reporters.
Business leaders said the call for the exception exposed the hypocrisy behind the whole effort. "What we are seeing is that the whole Fight for $15 movement is not about raising wages. It is about pressuring businesses to unionize," said Glenn Spencer, vice president of the Workforce Freedom Initiative, a Chamber of Commerce-backed group.
The exception, he notes, gives businesses a huge incentive to unionize their workers, since if they strike a deal with union leaders they can avoid paying the new minimum and thus avoid higher labor costs. The workers could find themselves not only not getting paid the new minimum but also having to pay the union representation fees.
Spencer notes that last year, the L.A. council boosted the minimum wage for large hotels to $15.37 an hour, but included an exception for unionized ones. That exception was championed by Unite Here, which represents workers in the hospitality industry.
"This $15 citywide [rule] completely undercuts that. The hotels would have no incentive to unionize anymore if everybody has to pay $15 an hour regardless," Spencer said, adding it was "odd" that the unions let the city proposal get this far without including the exception.
San Francisco and SeaTac., Washington — two other cities that recently raised their minimum wages to $15 — also included carve-outs for unionized businesses. Similar waivers were included in recent minimum wage increases in Long Beach, San Jose, Richmond and Oakland, Calif., as well as Milwaukee County, Wis. In each case, the minimum wage push was largely backed by organized labor acting through grassroots groups and liberal coalitions.