Yesterday, Colorado Families for a Fair Wage kicked off a ballot measure campaign to raise the minimum wage. CBS4 even talked a “one demonstrator” who pays his workers $15 per hour and his business has never been better. Right.
But let’s not forget what this minimum wage fight is about. It’s not about making families more prosperous, although, that’s a great talking point. It’s about the fact that some union wages and, thus, union membership fees, are indexed to the minimum wage.
In Colorado, the minimum wage is $8.31. This group is calling for a minimum wage of $12 per hour by 2020. That’s a 50 percent increase in three years. If union wages are indexed to the minimum wage, that means that union wages would increase and, thus, could give unions a much-needed infusion of cash on which to spend on political races.
A Wall Street Journal op-ed penned by Richard Berman from the Center for Union Facts also explained how this works.
The labor contracts that we examined used a variety of methods to trigger the increases. The two most popular formulas were setting baseline union wages as a percentage above the state or federal minimum wage or mandating a ﬂat wage premium above the minimum wage.
Other union contracts stipulate that, following a minimum-wage increase, the union and the employer reopen wage talks. The negotiations could pressure employers and unions to hammer out a new contract, regardless of how long their existing contracts last.
See how that works?
While everyone wants to be paid more and most employers would love to pay good employees more, there are financial realities that must be faced. Let’s not confuse union’s self-serving behavior with altruism. This is about unjust enrichment of unions at the expense of Colorado’s businesses.