The path toward passage of Los Angeles’ landmark minimum wage increase took a rocky detour Wednesday, as business and elected officials reacted harshly to a last-minute push by labor leaders to create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces.
Union officials have been among the most ardent backers of the plan approved by the L.A. City Council last week to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But some labor leaders who opposed loopholes for small businesses and restaurants now argue that unionized companies should have leeway to negotiate lower pay rates with their employees.
This is akin to the climate doomsayers flying all over the planet screaming about the dangers of fossil fuels. And it is most reminiscent of the great fight Big Labor fought for the passage of Obamacare, from which they immediately sought exemptions.
Why are they so eager to avoid having to participate in all the laws they champion?
A prominent labor fan on the L.A. City Council isn’t on board with the request:
Even some who fought side-by-side with union activists for the wage increase said they were uncomfortable adopting the proposed exemption without further study.
“For me, the point of the minimum wage in Los Angeles was to raise wages and lift people out of poverty,” said Councilman Mike Bonin, a champion of the ordinance and frequent labor ally on the council. The pay hike should apply for “everyone,” he said, including “employees of big businesses and small businesses, of nonprofits and for-profits, people who are members of unions and people who are not.”
As a resident of Los Angeles, I can wholehearted assure you that the only way $15 an hour will lift anyone out of poverty is if one of those dollars happens to buy a winning Powerball ticket. However, sticking with that line of reasoning, Labor leaders must be asked why they think it’s all right to doom their people to poverty.