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Crony Capitalism Watch
The Minimum Wage Con

If you thought that the union-backed #FightFor15 movement was really about making sure that all workers earned a living wage—rather than about using the government to enrich progressive interest groups—think again. The Guardian:

Los Angeles city council will hear a proposal on Tuesday to exempt union members from a $15 an hour minimum wage that the unions themselves have spent years fighting for.

The proposal for the exemption was first introduced last year, after the Los Angeles city council passed a bill that would see the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 by 2020. After drawing criticism last year, the proposed amendment was put on hold but is now up for consideration once again.

As it turns out, this practice is not uncommon. The WSJ reported last year that at least six municipalities have created special minimum wage carveouts for unions. The logic is straightforward: Kill non-unionized jobs, add more workers to the union rolls, and extract higher fees for union bosses. It’s not a minimum wage hike the labor movement is after, exactly: It’s a penalty on non-union employers, and a payout for modern-day Jimmy Hoffas. Expect unions in California and New York, which recently enacted statewide $15 minimums, to start lobbying legislators for their own sweetheart deals in the near future.

Of course, one can be charitable and note that these measures are backed, in many cases, by well-meaning people trying desperately to keep private sector unions viable in an age of globalization and rapid technological change. But that is no excuse for the kind of craven crony capitalism that’s now underway. If union leaders are going to ask for exemptions to their own laws, the least they can do is drop the pretense that a $15 minimum is a human right, and instead admit that they are in it—at least in part—to increase their own wealth and political power. But then, that would pour cold water on what they have managed to pitch to voters as a righteous moral crusade.

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