On Wednesday, the busiest day for Thanksgiving travel, Service Employees International Union has stalled travel at one of the busiest airports, Los Angeles International Airport with thousands of protestors. SEIU has accused Aviation Safeguards, a company that employs 450 sky caps, airplane cabin cleaners, and airport security workers, has violated Los Angeles’s living wage ordinance. The company denied the charge, according to Fox News:
“That company, Aviation Safeguards, claims that’s inaccurate, saying 52 percent of its workers voted to decertify the SEIU. It also says employee pay has increased by more than $2 million since workers kicked the union out to compensate for changes in their health care policies.”
The rationale behind this protest – a living wage – is an interesting concept. A living wage is not as simple as paying, say, the minimum wage. A living wage takes an area’s “cost of living” into consideration, and according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Project, is a wage rate required to meet minimum standards of living. When determining the living wage of an area, MIT considers the following costs: food, housing, childcare, transportation, and taxes, among other costs. When the cost of these components increases, the cost to live in an area also increases.
Much has been made about the increase in cost of gasoline, which has doubled since President Obama took office. But, it’s not just the straight cost of transportation for workers that negatively impacts the so-called living wage. When the price of gas rises, so, too, does the price of consumer goods, including food. President Obama’s poorly-developed policy positions regarding oil production have directly caused gas prices to double, which has caused costs of goods to creep up. And its no secret that Obamacare, once heralded as the solution to rising health care costs, has caused healthcare premiums to rise dramatically.
Further, California is one of the most onerous states in terms of taxation and regulation. Not only does this impact workers’ take home pay directly, but also indirectly in the form of lower wages and decreased opportunity as companies struggle to keep up with the cost and complexity of new requirements. Taxation is one of the components that drives “living wage” calculations.
To summarize, President Obama, a friend of unions, and his buddies in the California legislature have caused nearly every component driving the living wage to increase. Let us be crystal clear. The rising cost of living is almost entirely a result of the poor policies offered by the left. If SEIU genuinely hopes to improve the quality of life of California workers, it might reconsider its allegiance with big government bureaucrats, whose lavish spending requires regular tax increases, and the environmental lobby.
But, even worse than unions driving policy that directly harms those they’re supposed to protect, workers at Aviation Safeguards, who are allegedly so mistreated, rejected the union’s actions and issued this statement as part of a larger press release yesterday:
“A group representing the 450 workers of Aviation Safeguards – a contractor providing wheelchair, skycap, baggage handling and ticket verification for airlines at LAX – says that company employees have no intention of joining the SEIU’s planned protest at LAX on Wednesday afternoon, and called on the union leadership to back down from its threat to disrupt holiday travel on the busiest travel day of the year”
Do these employees have Stockholm Syndrome? Probably not. More likely – they’re tired of being used and abused as pawns in the left’s bullying as unions struggle to maintain their original raison d’etre. The real question is whether SEIU, courtesy of MoveOn.org, has scheduled this protest in defense of it workers or to assert its relevance in a world that increasingly finds unions antiquated, not useful, and sometimes, harmful.
We just hope that families were able to make flights and spend this holiday together.