Why, It's The Least We Can Do!
Theodore Roosevelt, 1904
Years ago, when there was a minimum wage hike, Porcupine was managing a payroll. An older lady, who worked part time, came in all excited over the hike. Porcupine was puzzled as she was already earning more than the new minimum. She asked, "Doesn't this mean that now I will get an automatic raise too?" Porcupine told her was not so, and in fact, having to pay more to other empoyees, mostly teenagers who were getting minimum wage, probaly precluded her getting any raise in the near future. Crestfallen, she replied that it wasn't fair. The AFL-CIO has at last heard her plea, and is working to make sure that the Elizabeths of this world will be disappointed no more.
Do not be deceived. The two minimum wage votes this week (well, one vote and one threat) are mere precursors to the main attraction.
At the Federal level, Sen. Ted Kennedy was in fine form, roaring that Congress had not raised the minimum wage in 9 years. The nationwide minimum wage is $5.25 but his bill to raise it to $7.25 was quashed again.
As it happens, the Senator was merely trying to drag the rest of the nation up closer to the level of his home state. Here is Massachusetts, the minimum wage is already $6.75, the highest in the nation. A vote was scheduled in the Massachusetts House to raise our minimum wage yet again to $7.75. But, the vote was cancelled when every member received a letter from the AFL-CIO threatening to withhold endorsements if the matter came to a vote. Aside from creating a bad impression that when unions say ‘Jump’, the Legislature asks ‘How High?’, the threat was silly upon its face. Hint - There were going to endorse all the Democrats again. It is a ritual which has become meaningless, but it’s nice to see a public demonstration of just how craven our 87% Democrat legislature is from time to time.
Why this demonstration of power? Ah, the version that the Unions REALLY want has already been passed by the Senate with a goal of $8.25, and stands an excellent chance of being slipped into the Final Budget as an outside section. Here is the relevant language:
There is a reason why this is tucked away in the Outside Sections of the Senate budget, and may well make it to the Conference Budget. You see, the final version of the budget is a straight up or down vote - no amendments allowed. It's the perfect way of doing something when you don't want to go on record. It's too bad the House didn't take its vote - then, in a reverse John Kerry moment, the Democrats could claim that they had voted AGAINST the increase before voting FOR it, and could point to the vote they wished to showcase when asked by constituents how they voted. Sometimes, they could have pointed to both in a single day in front of different audiences.
(d) Effective September 1 of the same calendar year, the minimum wage shall be the minimum wage in effect on May 31 increased by the percentage change in the consumer price index calculated in subsection (c). In no instance shall the increase be less than zero.
It would seem that the Legislature is intent on entirely depopulating Massachusetts. Not content with passing the Universal Health Care plan surcharge upon business, it is now opting for the highest minimum wage in the country as well, and by linking it to the Consumer Price Index they ensure that it will remain so, beginning with a floor of $8.25. In fact, another clause calls for the Mass. minimum wage to ALWAYS be at least 10 cents more than the Federal minimum no matter what that is. A link to all the budget langage is HERE. Another juicy tidbit therein is language which calls for future minimm wage increases to be overseen by a council on which will sit...why...the AFL-CIO of Mass.!
What the Legislature cannot seem to understand is that this cycle of increases feeds upon itself like a firestorm. By requiring wages to be raised annually, profitability be damned, they are forcing businesses to raise prices to pay workers, who will then have to spend more in other establishments, which will drive up the cost of living and hence the Comsumer Price Index, which will require wages to be raised...you get the idea. Unlike Porcupine, it appears that the members of the Legislature have never had to cope with meeting a payroll.
So, Elizabeth, the AFL-CIO has heard your cries of unfair treatment at last. We cannot afford you at all any more, so you can pick up your pink slip on the way out.