Posts Tagged ‘minimum wage’

Seattle’s “Fight for 15″ — in 1907

In 1907, unions helped convince Seattle to enact a 15-cent minimum price for restaurant meals, part of a backlash against inexpensive Japanese-run eateries that were providing unwelcome competition for existing restaurants and unions representing their employees. In San Francisco the same year, a mob attacked and destroyed the 10-cent Horseshoe Restaurant on Folsom Street, causing a diplomatic incident between the United States and Japan [H.D. Miller, Eccentric Culinary History; part 1 of his story]

Labor and employment roundup

  • Really, I never want to hear one word ever again about Gov. Andrew Cuomo being “at least good on economic issues” [Peter Suderman and Nick Gillespie, Reason (New York will mandate $15/hour for most fast-food workers, which in many upstate cities could amount to 75 percent of average wage); Heather Briccetti/New York Post (activists bused from one hearing to next to jeer opponents); Nicole Gelinas/City Journal (Cuomo picks online guy to represent business on brick-and-mortar-endangering wage board), Joanna Fantozzi/The Daily Meal (possible legal challenge); Coyote on Card and Krueger study]
  • Labor markets don’t behave the way sentimental reformers wish they behaved, part 53,791 [Seattle minimum wage hike: Mark Perry (largest half-year decline in foodservice jobs in region since Great Recession; but see, Brian Doherty on problems with that number series) and Rick Moran (“Employees are begging their bosses to cut their hours so they can keep their food stamps, housing assistance, and other welfare benefits.”); David Brooks via Coyote]
  • Employers scramble to monitor, control time worked in response to Obama overtime decree [WSJ] “No one wants to go back to filling out time sheets…. managers fear (rightly) that I will have to set arbitrary maximum numbers of work hours for them.” [Coyote] Business resistance aims for the moment at (deliberately abbreviated) public comment period [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner] “Can Obama Really Raise Wages for Millions of People So Easily? Quick answer: no” [David Henderson; WSJ/@scottlincicome on seasonal pool-supply company]
  • Hillary Clinton and the Market Basket Stores myth [James Taranto]
  • Labor Department proposes tightening regulation of retirement financial advisers [Kenneth Bentsen, The Hill]
  • Proposed: “well-orchestrated” state ballot initiatives aimed at overturning employment at will [Rand Wilson, Workplace Fairness] My view: “Everybody wins with at-will employment” [Ethan Blevins, Pacific Legal amicus briefs in Supreme Court of Washington, followup on oral argument, and thanks to PLF for citing my work in its amicus brief in Rose v. Anderson Hay and Grain; much more on employment at will in my book The Excuse Factory, also some here]
  • The SEIU’s home caregiver membership motel: you can check in, but just try checking out [Watchdog Minnesota Bureau]

Wage and hour roundup

If they choose our dues, low pay’s OK

“Labor leaders, who were among the strongest supporters of the citywide [$15 and indexing] 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.” [Los Angeles Times] What’s more, these union “escape” clauses keep coming up in minimum wage statutes, as the U.S. Chamber has documented in a lengthy report. It’s almost as if these campaigns are run for unions’ benefit rather than that of their ostensible beneficiaries!

Related: Tim Sandefur, 2011, on a Los Angeles ordinance

that forces businesses that buy grocery stores to retain certain employees on their payroll for three months, even though they don’t want to. There’s an exception in the law for companies that have a collective bargaining agreement with a union. Thus the ordinance is little more than a tax on non-union employers — a restriction that exists for no other reason than to make it more expensive to operate a non-union grocery store.

Minimum wage roundup

Study: minimum wage hurt employment, earnings, mobility for low-skill workers

“We find that this period’s binding minimum wage increases reduced low-skilled individuals’ average monthly incomes. Relative to low-skilled workers in unbound states, targeted workers’ average incomes fell by $100 over the first year and by an additional $50 over the following 2 years.” Workers with college education were pushed in part toward work without pay, such as internships, while workers with lower educational attainments simply experienced more joblessness. [Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy, March]

Related: “Raise the Wage Act Is More Rhetoric than Reality” [James Dorn, Cato] “Promises Made, Promises Broken: The Failure of Washington State’s Minimum Wage Law” [Maxford Nelsen, Freedom Foundation of Washington]

Labor roundup

A minimum wage non-paradox

Obama wage-hour chief David Weil told the Wall Street Journal that leaders of the National Retail Federation approached him urging a hike in the federal minimum wage. Apparently readers are meant to infer that this policy is so obviously fair, or overdue, or beneficial to the national economy, that even big business leaders who will be paying the higher wages favor it. The anecdote is not even the tiniest bit paradoxical, however, once you realize that major national retail operators already tend to pay over the minimum and wouldn’t mind kneecapping their smaller, less-established, or lower-margin competitors who don’t [WSJ and blog, Donald Boudreaux, Tim Worstall]

Meanwhile: “More Seattle restaurants close doors as $15 minimum wage approaches” If only anyone could have predicted! [Shift WA via J.A. Cohen] But note this Seattle Times piece in which the owners of the four closing restaurants say the wage hike wasn’t the reason.

“Rises In The Minimum Wage Really Do Destroy Jobs”

A new study indicates that “a 30% rise in the minimum wage means that 1 million people lose either their jobs or even the opportunity to work.” [Tim Worstall, James Pethokoukis] This and all other studies should be taken with caution, of course: “[We’ve] been talking about [it] confidently, as if we know for sure what will happen when these laws take effect. In fact, it’s very hard to study what happens when we raise the minimum wage.” [Megan McArdle] David Henderson on sneakily pro-union Los Angeles hotel minimum wage enactment [EconLib] Donald Boudreaux corrects The Guardian [Cafe Hayek] And Borderlands Books in San Francisco, threatened with closure after the city’s electorate voted in a minimum wage increase, may survive if it can get enough fans and customers to cover some of its costs in a sponsorship plan.