Thursday, May 28, 2015

Both mean and stupid ...

By way of Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money, I learn that the Los Angeles County Labor Federation has decided to cannibalize itself by way of the city's groundbreaking new $15 minimum wage law. WTF indeed?

Here's the story from the LA 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 Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.

"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 in a statement. "This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing."

Great. Join a union, pay dues to support Rusty Hicks, and you can earn less than you would in a non-union shop. Gee, after this move, I'm sure you'll rally around to defend the rights of labor next time our Republican dinosaurs put an initiative on the ballot to cut the heart out of labor power. (This happened most recently in 2012 for those with short memories.)

If like me you are not an Angeleno and never heard of him, you may ask, who is this Hicks? Apparently he's a former union political operative, elected at the end of last year to replace long-serving Maria Elena Durrazo. The County Fed does run a terrific election operation; I had privilege of working with it against the death penalty.

You'll be glad to know that, after winning his new job, he explained his intentions to the LA Times:

Among his highest priorities, Hicks said, will be to push forward a citywide minimum wage in Los Angeles, preferably of $15 an hour. He called the proposal "a huge opportunity and a huge challenge at the same time."

You are flunking the challenge, Mr. Hicks!

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