The Los Angeles City Council members proposed a $30-an-hour minimum wage for hotel and airport workers to be implemented by 2028.
While a $30-an-hour minimum wage may be welcomed news by some in their effort to address income inequality, serious concerns exist about the impact of such a wage increase on the economy and on those who will have to pay for the additional costs.
A balance must include carefully considering the potential impact on workers, businesses, and the overall economy.
Let us remember that there are real costs associated with continually increasing the minimum wage. As the cost of labor increases, so does the cost of goods and services, and ultimately, everyone ends up paying for it.
While it is crucial to address income inequality and provide workers with fair wages, it is also critical to look at the cost to individuals and ensure that businesses are not priced out, which leads to layoffs and economic slowdown.
On the other side of the income inequality talking points, the Los Angeles Times pointed out that if the hotel is unionized, the business is exempt from paying the $30-an-hour minimum wage.
This is hypocrisy at its worst. This type of political game and hidden agenda has caused worker frustration and anger. The Los Angeles Times recently looked at this minimum wage shell game:
When Los Angeles City Council members voted two years ago to give hotel workers a raise, Bill Martinez was the type of worker they said they wanted to help.
Martinez, a 53-year-old bellhop, has hauled tourists’ luggage across the flagstone plaza of the Sheraton Universal in Studio City for two decades. He said he was excited after the council’s vote to raise the minimum hourly wage at large hotels to $15.37, which he expected to boost his paycheck by 71%.
He soon found out he wouldn’t be getting a raise after all. Under an obscure provision of the city’s wage hike, unionized hotels were granted an exemption allowing them to pay their employees less. The result is that Martinez, who pays $56.50 every month for membership in the hotel workers union Unite Here, now makes less than those doing the same job in non-union workplaces.
Counterintuitive at first glance — organized labor’s historic goal has been to obtain more for workers, not less — union exemptions are absent from state and federal pay standards. Yet they have been written into the fine print of wage ordinances in a dozen California cities at labor leaders’ urging.
San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Santa Monica have all adopted union waivers in their most recent minimum wage laws. L.A. city officials are expected to indicate whether they will include such an exemption in their own $15 minimum wage at a hearing next week.
(“Outrage After Big Labor Crafts Law Paying their Members Less than Non-Union Workers,” Los Angeles Times, 04/09/16)
So, is the Los Angeles City Council’s latest minimum wage proposal about income inequality or union membership?