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Old 03-02-2013, 08:28 AM   #1
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Obama's Minimum Wage Plan Caught Organized Labor By Surprise

WASHINGTON -- As the White House developed its new proposal to raise the federal minimum wage, there was at least one core constituency of President Obama's that was largely left out of the loop on the plan: organized labor.

Labor unions by tradition are one of the loudest voices advocating for a higher minimum wage, believing it will help spur wage growth not just for the working poor but for all workers. The White House's proposal last week to raise the wage floor from $7.25 to $9 by 2015 and peg it to inflation caught many labor officials by surprise -- in most cases, pleasant surprise, given the president's relative silence on the issue during his first term.

But others have voiced concern off-the-record that the White House's proposal comes with too low a number. Despite the general applause by progressives, labor activists who follow the issue closely recall that on the campaign trail in 2008 Obama stumped for having a minimum wage of $9.50 by the end of 2011.

His proposal now, in effect, is 50 cents and four years behind his earlier proposal, leaving some advocates with a mixture of enthusiasm and worry.

"We're encouraged, but we think the wage is too low," said one D.C. labor official, requesting anonymity to speak freely. "We would have enjoyed a deeper discussion."

A spokesman for the AFL-CIO, the largest labor federation in the country, declined to comment when asked if officials there had talked with the White House about its minimum wage plan ahead of the announcement, though labor sources say AFL-CIO officials did not have the opportunity to give their feedback. Similarly, a spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), many of whose members work in low-wage service jobs, said the union wasn't privy to the minimum wage plan, either.

Both the AFL-CIO and SEIU have publicly praised the White House proposal. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said it would alleviate "wage stagnation and growing inequality," and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said it would "lift up millions of families."

But even among those who are thrilled to see the minimum wage become part of the national dialogue, there are some who believe the White House may be lowballing itself with $9, and at least two of them will be spearheading legislative talks in Congress.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) have already said the $9 plan isn't enough, and they'll be advocating for a baseline of $10.10, also to be pegged to inflation. Harkin is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Miller is senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Both legislators have noted that the minimum wage would now be above $10 if it had kept pace with inflation since its historic high in the late 1960's.

The White House is probably hoping its more modest proposal of $9 will be palatable to House Republicans who are ideologically opposed to minimum wage increases, particularly during a weak economic climate. (The White House declined to comment on how it chose its number or whether organized labor was involved in the discussions.) The minimum wage hasn't been raised since 2009, after the last in a series of increases signed into law under President George W. Bush bumped it to $7.25 per hour.

Indexing the minimum wage to inflation is a long-term goal for many low-wage worker advocates, since it would tweak the wage floor each year to keep up with the cost of living, as well as take the politics out of legislative increases made by Congress. Ten states have already taken the initiative to index their minimum wages, usually to the consumer price index. (Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently have minimum wages that trump the lower federal minimum.)

In his State of the Union address, Obama joked that indexing the minimum wage to inflation was one idea he had in common last year with failed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

For those who feel the minimum wage has eroded far too much, the downside to indexing is that raising the wage through large lump sums (as Bush did) becomes very difficult politically, given that it's already being raised each year in smaller measures. That makes the dollar value you start at -- in Obama's proposal, $9 -- all the more important, their reasoning goes.

"We wanted to get it above $10 before we index it -- we didn't want it to be artificially low," said one Democratic source, who didn't want to openly criticize the White House plan. The source added, "We were thrilled to see indexing" for inflation in the president's proposal.

A consultant to labor unions was less charitable, saying Obama should have pressed a more ambitious proposal. "Why didn't he go for $10, or even $11?" the consultant asked. "He's negotiating with himself again."

Whatever the number ends up being, Democratic aides expect the increase will be passed, despite claims from Republican leadership that it will hurt businesses and job growth. Minimum wage hikes typically get passed every few years, with Republicans and the business community finding something to like in the larger legislative package. The 2007 measure signed by Bush, for instance, was rolled into a supplemental aid package for the Iraq War that also included a small-business tax cut.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/0...p_ref=politics
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:37 AM   #2
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Public unions should be banned. Private sector unions I have no issues with, they helped create the middle class. Public unions on the other hand are just pure evil. Give money to democrats, democrats give back unrealistic wages and benefits that they don't have any hope of fully funding and that eventually bankrupt the system, unions give back with more campaign donations and support and throw tantrums when any real reform is attempted. Meanwhile the taxpayers (employers) have very little power to be part of the negotiation. Even Thomas Jefferson thought public unions were a bad idea. Time has proven him correct, just look at the mess every single state that has had a long history of democratic control. Illinois, California, etc etc. The circus that happened in Wisconsin over modest reforms was all the evidence you need of how corrupt this system is.

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Old 03-02-2013, 08:48 AM   #3
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Why $10 or $11? Why not $30 or $50? Just think of the incredible boost of purchasing power among those making the least in our society! Then our federal overlords can start passing legislation setting prices for goods. $3 jeans, .99 milk...utopia has arrived!

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Old 03-02-2013, 09:04 AM   #4
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Big government types don't understand inflation, and that if everyone made 100k a gallon of milk would cost $100
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Old 03-04-2013, 07:21 AM   #5
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The dark side of unions is subtly beginning to show its ugly head again.
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Old 03-05-2013, 11:53 AM   #6
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The dark side of unions is subtly beginning to show its ugly head again.
How is this new though?

They want, want, want, because they are owed, owed, owed. They believe that since their uncle benny got them in, that they never have to make an effort again and deserve raises, high pay, and Cadillac benefits. This all comes at the hands of J.Q. Taxpayer at times of prosperity and not.

When people say that corporate America is the problem, they are sadly mistaken.
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Old 03-05-2013, 11:57 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by mtgswede View Post
Public unions should be banned. Private sector unions I have no issues with, they helped create the middle class. Public unions on the other hand are just pure evil. Give money to democrats, democrats give back unrealistic wages and benefits that they don't have any hope of fully funding and that eventually bankrupt the system, unions give back with more campaign donations and support and throw tantrums when any real reform is attempted. Meanwhile the taxpayers (employers) have very little power to be part of the negotiation. Even Thomas Jefferson thought public unions were a bad idea. Time has proven him correct, just look at the mess every single state that has had a long history of democratic control. Illinois, California, etc etc. The circus that happened in Wisconsin over modest reforms was all the evidence you need of how corrupt this system is.
Wow, I agree with you. I'd even go so far as to say ALL unions though, but at a minimum, the Public ones.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:14 PM   #8
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I always kind of laugh when I hear about people who are pro-free market calling for the banning of unions. I'm not a pro-union person by any stretch of the word, but calling for them to be banned is humorous coming from people who claim to be champions of the free market.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:19 PM   #9
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I always kind of laugh when I hear about people who are pro-free market calling for the banning of unions. I'm not a pro-union person by any stretch of the word, but calling for them to be banned is humorous coming from people who claim to be champions of the free market.
Being against private sector unions, I agree with you. Being against public sector unions does not interfere with free market principles, though.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:22 PM   #10
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I always kind of laugh when I hear about people who are pro-free market calling for the banning of unions. I'm not a pro-union person by any stretch of the word, but calling for them to be banned is humorous coming from people who claim to be champions of the free market.
Why? Just disorganize them not ban them.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:24 PM   #11
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being against private sector unions, i agree with you. Being against public sector unions does not interfere with free market principles, though.
+1
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:25 PM   #12
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Being against private sector unions, I agree with you. Being against public sector unions does not interfere with free market principles, though.
Yeah, ok, I can agree to that.

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Why? Just disorganize them not ban them.
Wouldn't that effectively do the same thing?
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:27 PM   #13
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I always kind of laugh when I hear about people who are pro-free market calling for the banning of unions. I'm not a pro-union person by any stretch of the word, but calling for them to be banned is humorous coming from people who claim to be champions of the free market.
I don't agree that unions (in their current form) are free market. Public unions are not no matter which way you slice it. Private sector unions under my rule as they currently stand would be illegal. Firstly, there would not be a "group contract." Every single employee is on their own. Second, there would be no union rep, no dues, none of that crap. Employees would be legally allowed to unionize, which again, under my rule, would mean they can band together and tell the CEO their displeasures. They can do it in the break room, they can protest, and they would be allowed to strike. However, the emploYER would have the freedom to tell them all to kick rocks, fire every single one of them, claim a loss at the end of the year on his taxes for work not done/time it takes to re-tool, and hire an all new staff. No one would have ANY form of protection, guaranteed anything, ie raises, benefits, retirement, nothing. The good employees will get what they deserve, and the sh!tty ones get canned.
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:39 PM   #14
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I don't agree that unions (in their current form) are free market. Public unions are not no matter which way you slice it. Private sector unions under my rule as they currently stand would be illegal. Firstly, there would not be a "group contract." Every single employee is on their own. Second, there would be no union rep, no dues, none of that crap. Employees would be legally allowed to unionize, which again, under my rule, would mean they can band together and tell the CEO their displeasures. They can do it in the break room, they can protest, and they would be allowed to strike. However, the emploYER would have the freedom to tell them all to kick rocks, fire every single one of them, claim a loss at the end of the year on his taxes for work not done/time it takes to re-tool, and hire an all new staff. No one would have ANY form of protection, guaranteed anything, ie raises, benefits, retirement, nothing. The good employees will get what they deserve, and the sh!tty ones get canned.

You would basically be regulating the labor market. AKA, not very free market of you. When it comes down to brass tacks, unions were a market solution to a problem.
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:50 PM   #15
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You would basically be regulating the labor market. AKA, not very free market of you. When it comes down to brass tacks, unions were a market solution to a problem.
How is that regulating? The workers have a right to strike, assemble, etc etc etc, and the employers have the right to fire. The way it is now, the unions blackmail and racketeer the employer.
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:51 PM   #16
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How is that regulating? The workers have a right to strike, assemble, etc etc etc, and the employers have the right to fire. The way it is now, the unions blackmail and racketeer the employer.
The employers didn't have to agree to the terms the unions put forward, did they?

Again, don't get me wrong, I don't like unions at all....they brought down the company that my parents worked for 20ish years ago (Eastern Airlines).....but making them illegal/banning them/regulating them isn't the answer.
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:17 PM   #17
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The employers didn't have to agree to the terms the unions put forward, did they?

Again, don't get me wrong, I don't like unions at all....they brought down the company that my parents worked for 20ish years ago (Eastern Airlines).....but making them illegal/banning them/regulating them isn't the answer.
I would make two things about them illegal. They cannot collect ANY dues of any kind, AND, they cannot have ANY form of representation. The employees themselves are the representatives. Actually, three things. The above, AND, there cannot be ANY member of a union that does not work for said company. Meaning, you cannot have someone that works for the union as an entity, be it lobbying, administration, etc.

As for your first comment, I would agree with you if the companies had a choice. A lot of times, the companies have no choice but to hire union labor that rips them a new one (ie NYC construction.)
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