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"Youse got a nice legislature here. Be a shame if anything should happen to it."

In Massachusetts, the legislature is considering raising the state-mandated minimum wage from $6.75 an hour. The measure's proponents want it hiked to $7.75.

Now, I'm not going to go into the pluses or minuses of the increase, or whether we even should have a minimum wage. (I don't believe so, but that's a topic for another time.) The real story here is how a certain organization reacted to the proposal.

The Massachusetts AFL-CIO (400,000 members) likes the idea of raising the minimum wage (big surprise there), but that buck an hour ain't enough for them. They want it raised to $8.25 (about 60% above the federal minimum wage), and they're putting their money where their mouth is: they won't endorse any candidates until after the vote.

This is a naked power play. The union is saying that it wants not only a higher minimum wage, but the highest in the nation -- and future increases automatically tied to the rate of inflation. And if they don't, woe to the lawmakers who didn't heed their demands.

Unions have a fine and noble history. They are responsible for many good things, and brought about many needed reforms. But they can't continue to exploit their past glories to excuse their current excesses. From hiring scabs to do their picketing for them to this flagrant shakedown of lawmakers, "from the people who brought you the two-day weekend" only goes so far.


Comments (29)

Jay$8.25/hr... (Below threshold)
mak44:

Jay

$8.25/hr is just about at the poverty line for a family of 3 on an annual basis.

In a society where CEO's earn as much as 850 times the annual income of the averge worker, a bottom threshold of $16500/annum is hardly absurd.

Good for the AFL-Cio for using their leverage to ensure that the lowest wage is at least at the poverty line for a family of 3.

It's amazing w/ you on the Right, how family values go right out the window when it comes to supporting the most minimal family income.

Too bad that Western society is at least a few centuries beyond Feudalism as an economic structure.

Hey mak, do you know the st... (Below threshold)
Jody:

Hey mak, do you know the statistics on who is actually paid minimum wage? (Hint: it's not heads of households.)

Well, "naked power play," s... (Below threshold)

Well, "naked power play," sure, but that describes any number of political ploys by any number of politically-active organizations. We conservatives also "threaten" our elected officials regularly, with not voting for them unless they do our bidding.

I don't like unions, and I detest the minimum wage--which actually doesn't even "help" the people it's purportedly intended to help, btw; unions like it because their contracts are typically based on mulitpliers of the minimum wage, so it's to their advantage for it to go up.

But I just don't see how this is much different from "politics as usual." The opponents of those endorsed by the union can use this to show that they're in the pockets of "big labor."

JodyDoesn't... (Below threshold)
mak44:

Jody

Doesn't much matter, because $16K is hardly a living wage for a single person, let alone a family of 3.

I suppose you're gonna try to use that "entry-level" BS as justification for what barely would exceed a slave-labor level of compensation giving the economic norms of this society.

Jay: You obviously have no ... (Below threshold)

Jay: You obviously have no understanding of economics whatsoever. About 3% of the workforce is paid the minimum wage; virtually none of them are "head of household." They're typically going to be part-time student workers.

And arbitrarily raising the "minimum wage" does nothing to address the root cause of poverty, which is indolence and indifference on the part of those "trapped" in the cycle of poverty. There is nowhere on earth where such are afforded more opportunities to better themselves than the U.S. You can lead a horse to water...

Also, artificially raising wages--or a related ploy, "freezing" wages and prices--takes care of nothing, because prices go up anyway, to fit economic reality. If you "drop out" of the economy by ensuring that you contribute little to it, you're not going to be helped by Big Brother.

Minimum wage issues are about currying votes. Even the strongest proponents of the minimum wage know it does nothing to help anyone. They do it so they can say "I did something; vote for me."

Why you think that stealing a dollar from an honest business owner, or from your fellow-citizens, to give to someone who cares nothing for himself is beyond me. It's theft, pure and simple, which all "welfare programs" invariably are.

Back before politicians discovered they could enhance their own chances for election by picking the pockets of their constituents, the poor were cared for adequately by faith and charitable organizations. The government has no business in any of this. They are constitutionally unable to do it.

It's just that the constitution means nothing to them any longer.

mak, here's a thought: if y... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

mak, here's a thought: if you are making minimum wage, you OUGHT TO be trying to improve yourself, not raising a family.

I've worked minimum wage. I make a bit more than that now. I do what I can to NOT take on more financial obligations than I can handle, and I am regularly looking for ways to earn more, to improve my skills and productivity at work to earn regular raises -- which I have done for years.

There is pretty much NO excuse for having a minimum-wage job for longer than, say, a year. (And that's probably generous -- my employer evaluates new hires after 90 days, and almost always includes a raise if you'd done your job.) Either you prove your worth to your employer to justify paying you more to keep you, or you take the skills and discipline you've developed to another employer who wants someone with a proven record of reliability.

Let's take your example, though. A family of three living off one minimum-wage job? That's a husband, wife, and one child, typically. There's all sorts of social programs to support such families, and hardly ANY family at lower income strata depends on a stay-at-home parent these days. And considering that not even McDonald's or Dunkin Donuts is starting people at minimum wage, I find it hard to believe that there are a lot of couples out there where one of them can not command an above minimum wage job.

The hidden cost here is NOT in those making minimum wage, but in those who make above it. Every single worker making between 6.75 and 8.25 will INSTANTLY get a raise -- and those people will demand that they be paid more than Joe Schmoe who just walked in off the street.

Suppose Betty Bagel Baker at Dunkin Donuts has been a good employee for six months, and is now making $7.50 an hour after being hired at minimum wage. If the minimum wage goes to $8.25, she's gonna want $9.00 -- to keep her at the same rate above minimum wage. To pay her the same as Mike the Munchkin Maker, who just walked in the door, is an insult to her.

What IS it about the Left that they are so generous with everyone else's money, but if you look at the tax returns of their heroes (Clintons, Kennedys, Kerry) they are remarkably stingy with their own money? Hell, in Massachusetts, they even have an optional higher state income tax rate, for those people who believe they "owe" the Commonwealth more support. Every year, significantly less than 1% choose to pay the higher rate -- and Senators Kerry and Kennedy have NEVER paid it. But they're all for raising the involuntary taxes...

J.

Jay: "Too bad that Western ... (Below threshold)

Jay: "Too bad that Western society is at least a few centuries beyond Feudalism as an economic structure."

As opposed to whom? Communist China? How many immigrants from Communist China to the U.S.? How many from the U.S. to Communist China?

You need to give it up. You're embarrassing yourself here.

B.P., don't be so hard on y... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

B.P., don't be so hard on yourself. You say that I know nothing about economics, then pretty much sum up my position. If my opinion is based on sheer ignorance and idiocy, what does it say about you when I point out I largely agree with your position? Are you also ignorant and wrong?

Either you misread my bit about saying I'm not so sure we should HAVE minimum wage laws, or you put my name in when you meant to address mak. Could you clear that up, please?

J.

B.P.: OK, now it's clear. Y... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

B.P.: OK, now it's clear. You're attributing mak's comments to me. That is grossly insulting. KNOCK IT OFF.

J.

Mak,Raising a family... (Below threshold)
Eneils Bailey:

Mak,
Raising a family on the minimum wage is not an economic/business problem, it is a social problem. If we create an environment where it is acceptable to be untrained and/or uneducated and enter the workforce with the expectations of being able to raise a family, we are compounding the problem.
Minimum wage laws were set up to ensure entry level or very low unskilled positions are paid a certain amount. It is not intended to provide a kid at MacDonalds with the financial resources to go out and start a family.
If you are upset as to what a CEO is paid at a corporation, don't buy their products or use their services. I don't want politicians and socialists interfering anymore than they do now into the operation of corporations. It has failed or in the process of failing everywhere it has been tried.

It should also be noted tha... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

It should also be noted that Union support of raising the minimum wage is because their pay is based from the minimum so that when the minimum goes up, theirs does to.

JayNo matte... (Below threshold)
mak44:

Jay

No matter how you try to slice it, what your economic view comes down to is Economic Oligarchy.

When a society is so structured economically, Political Democracy is not possible.

What you favor amounts to Predatory Capitalism.

Mak44,Cuba is lookin... (Below threshold)
Eneils Bailey:

Mak44,
Cuba is looking for some good economic development managers. They pay the minimum wage.
They have a good structure down there, everyone is living on a minimum wage and nobody's complaining.

I'd be surprised to find ma... (Below threshold)
plum:

I'd be surprised to find many people making minimum in MA. The local (north shore) McD's and D&D's start at $8.25 - this from neighborhood teens who work there.

The minimum wage is economi... (Below threshold)
Jay:

The minimum wage is economically insane, and is one of the more absurd things government at any level presumes the right to gunpoint us into.

That said, even $8.25 almost completely sinks into the sea of reality, in a state where it's virtually impossible to get paid less than $8 an hour for anything.

It still boggles the wife to see help wanted signs everywhere for jobs that in Fresno would have multiple applicants per.

MAK44 is demonstrably more ... (Below threshold)

MAK44 is demonstrably more interested in making his (erroneous) points than in focusing on reality. If people are not making the kind of money they wish to make, they have a choice to improve their skills so that they CAN earn more. I've done it on numerous occasions over the years, including going back to school several times to obtain additional education and certifications.

It is nowhere written in our Constitution (nor should it be) that those who make the least effort should should be paid commensurate with that of people who make the MOST effort and that is what mak44 is advocating. In other words, we ain't Communists baby! Those who make the maximum effort usually do make the maximum reward.

I don't notice too many Americans fleeing America for Cuba - while the reverse traffic is sometimes difficult to absorb!

Good for the AFL-Cio for... (Below threshold)
MikeB:

Good for the AFL-Cio for using their leverage to ensure that the lowest wage is at least at the poverty line for a family of 3.

Is there a limit to your naivety ?

The AFL-CIO isn't doing this out of care for people earning min. wage. The AFL-CIO cares about minimum wage because union contracts specify wage rates as a multiple of minimum wage.

It's amazing w/ you on the Right, how family values go right out the window when it comes to supporting the most minimal family income.

Since when was us considered "family values" to use the police power of government as part of the process of negotiating personal contracts ?

Only an idiot expects to su... (Below threshold)

Only an idiot expects to support a family on a wage called "minimum." Even the slackjaws at McDonald's make more than minimum wage.

"Since when was us*"... (Below threshold)
MikeB:

"Since when was us*"
should read
"Since when was it*"

Gmac has it right. Either g... (Below threshold)

Gmac has it right. Either government labor contracts are calculated from minimum wage levels, or individual union contracts are, or both. Either an amount above, or a multiple of minimum wage are the ways that the unions get their wages determined. Are union dues a percentage? Then a part of the dues are spent on the politico's campaigns? OK then. We know why it is good for the unions and good for the politicos.
What's in it for us?
We can feel good!
About what?
About the fact we care!
Do you care about the unskilled worker that isn't worth the higher wage and loses his job?
Do you care about the teenager that can't get a job because the entry level job market will contract?
Do you care that the union and politicos share will drive prices of goods and services up? Which is say it with me, inflationary pressure. Which will lead to increasing minimum wage.
Wheeee! A not-so-merry-go-round.

From the Center for Ec. Pol... (Below threshold)
happy talk:

From the Center for Ec. Pol. Research:

• The overwhelming number of minimum wage workers are adults. Fewer than one in five are under 20, and more than half are between 20 and 54. Let's repeat: over 50 percent are between 20 years old and 54 years old. 87 percent are over 20.

• The average minimum wage worker brings home 68 percent of their household's income. Many of them are supporting a family on nothing but the minimum wage, which is to say $10,500 a year -- well below the federal poverty line.

Now that I've quoted this, you probably think I'm in favor of raising the minimum wage.

I'm not.
Just wanted to correct some misconceptions.

Because CEPR isn't an agend... (Below threshold)
scsiwuzzy:

Because CEPR isn't an agenda driven organization.
No
Not at all

As a resident of Virginia I... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

As a resident of Virginia I applaud Mass. continuing to raise the cost of doing business in their state. Just has more and more companies and work forces move down here and boosts our economy.

Because CEPR isn't an ag... (Below threshold)
happy talk:

Because CEPR isn't an agenda driven organization.

Is there such a thing as an agenda-free organization?

scsiwuzzyYo... (Below threshold)
mak44:

scsiwuzzy

You posted: "Because CEPR isn't an agenda driven organization.
No
Not at all"

So you think that sort of assinine implication is an answer to the stats from the CEPR?

Your method is to impugn the org. as if that invalidates the data. That's the typical Wizbang poster response when you have no counterpoint to a citation.

Most of the above posters who have been trashing the minimum wage concept above have been repeating the non-fact that only entry level teens are getting the minimum wage. The CEPR data give a true demographic breakdown of the minimum wage earner in this country & when it conflicts w. your oversimplified conservative analysis, you think a slur hurled in the direction of the CEPR is sufficient.

If the CEPR data is way off base, prove it or STFU.

Jay: You obviously have ... (Below threshold)
KC:

Jay: You obviously have no understanding of economics whatsoever. About 3% of the workforce is paid the minimum wage; virtually none of them are "head of household." They're typically going to be part-time student workers.

If there's one thing I'm sick of re: the "Great Minumum Wage Debate", it's the previous statement.

Tell me, stats geniuses, what percentage of the population make 1 or 2 bucks more than the minimum wage?

Jay: mak, here's a thoug... (Below threshold)
KC:

Jay: mak, here's a thought: if you are making minimum wage, you OUGHT TO be trying to improve yourself, not raising a family

If that's not the stupidest thing I've ever read, I'm not quite sure what is.

Are you for real, Jay?

Fucking pathetic.

If that's not the ... (Below threshold)
DavidB:
If that's not the stupidest thing I've ever read, I'm not quite sure what is.

I know, I know! You making that comment.

Anyone imagining starting a family while they are making minimum wage should have their head examined. It's that simple. Instead they should be looking to further educate themselves to improve there marketability in the workplace in order to earn a higher wage.

Assuming otherwise is assinine and as you so eloquently put it, fucking pathetic.

My 17 y/o daughter started ... (Below threshold)

My 17 y/o daughter started her summer job, bussing tables at a local restaurant (south of Boston). She's being paid $9.00. McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy's are paying the same and more. Where are these min wage jobs?!?

The point was correctly made. The labor unions want this only because their major public contracts are tied to a multiple of the min wage -- and it is the highest wage rate paid on public construction in the US. It's called the "prevailing wage," and it's paid ordinary tradesmen over $100k a year since the beginning of the Big Dig (1992).




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