Raising the Minimum Wage: at the Heart of the Differences Between Faulconer and Alvarez

by on January 17, 2014 · 7 comments

in Economy, Election, Labor, San Diego

By Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press

San Diego iMayor Todd Gloria’s call for increasing the minimum wage during the State of the City address on Wednesday is drawing sharp reaction from the local wannabe plutocracy. What Gloria proposed was putting any such proposal before the voters next November. The very idea scares the crap out of them.

You take it to the bank that these “checkbook” democracy types who see it as their duty to pay signature gatherers to spread misinformation getting their corporate vetoes of city council actions blessed at the ballot box will now act to make sure that a proposal via our elected representatives never makes it before the voters.

The same folks that have spun community planning, environmental stewardship and housing for low income people into a conspiracy to drive JOBS out of the city are busy figuring out a way to drive a stake into the heart of any minimum wage increase, even if it’s to be decided at the ballot box.

As the Los Angeles Times points out, it took UT-San Diego exactly 16 minutes after Todd Gloria finished his speech to post an editorial challenging his call for an increase in the minimum wage.

From the LA Times account:

The editorial sought to cast doubt on Gloria’s assertion about the benefits of raising the minimum wage. Gloria “insisted [the increase] would be good for business in San Diego.”

A news story posted later quoted former Mayor Jerry Sanders, now the chief executive of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and possibly the most popular political figure in the city. Raising the minimum wage “could stunt job growth,” Sanders told the reporter.

Here’s the conclusion of the UT editorial:

At least some of what he said and proposed will be eclipsed early next month when voters elect a new mayor, who will lay out his own vision, his own proposals and his own goals for San Diego.

In other words, they’re hoping that Kevin Faulconer will win the mayoral election and find a way to deep six this ‘radical idea.’

Economic Inequality Should Be the Central Issue

San Diego's Tourism Marketing Under Kevin Faulconer?

San Diego’s Tourism Marketing Under Kevin Faulconer?

I’m glad they’ve chosen to make that call. Let’s make raising the minimum wage the defining issue of this campaign. A vote for Kevin Faulconer should be construed as a vote against raising the minimum wage.

Activist Linda Perine has great take on this issue and its implications for social justice in an article posted at LGBTWeekly:

A slow, but powerful awakening is transforming our country. When McDonalds and Wal-Mart instruct their employees to apply for government assistance because their billionaire owners refuse to pay a living wage; when Warren Buffet and Bill Gates tell us the system is rigged against the middle class; when someone attempting to register people to vote on a public square is arrested and abused by our city police – as Dylan said, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

Rev. King told us that the arc of history bends toward justice. If this is so it is because the joined hands of a coalition of the willing – LGBT folk, neighbors, women and workers – push back against the forces of greed and intolerance.

San Diego is at the center of these historic political currents. Feb. 11 we can build on this national wave of progress and inclusion by electing David Alvarez as our next mayor. Or we can take a giant step backward and become the only one of the twelve largest cities in the U.S. to choose the party of exclusion and homophobia.

What we can expect over the next few week is an unrelenting wave of ‘experts’ warning the San Diegans of dire consequences should any increase in minimum wages occur.

What you need to know is the ‘science’ behind these claims is as suspect as that bandied about by the climate change deniers. The minimum wage has been raised repeatedly since Franklin D. Roosevelt led the charge for its enactment back in the waning days of the Great Depression and we have all somehow survived without capitalism collapsing.

(Getting into an argument here with the corporate apologists who will inevitablely write in to challenge this assertion is a fools errand. Here’s my backup. And this. And this. And I’m standing by it.)

Here’s my favorite part (because it’s true) of the conservative argument for raising the minimum wage by Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who’s bankrolling a statewide initiative on the subject. (Unz has his own issues with immigrants, which I strongly disagree with.)

From Salon:

Our federal and local governments currently spend vast sums of money subsidizing the social benefits and living standards of our working-poor, including mailing them checks via the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). These expenditures constitute an enormous corporate welfare program in which businesses obtain the full value of their low-paid workforce while shifting much of the cost onto the general taxpayer, a classic example of economic special interests privatizing their profits and socializing their costs. Private sector employers should cover the expenses of their own workers rather than force middle-class taxpayers to pay the tab.

Gosh. Shrinking government assistance programs, lower taxes and a better life for hard working Americans: how can any red blooded patriot be against that?

You see, it’s not so much that our modern day Ebenezer Scrooges don’t want to pay people; it’s that raising the minimum wage is a fundamental attack on corporate welfare. If the world doesn’t collapse with a minimum wage additional things like making companies pay their fair share of infrastructure costs might be next. Or ending subsidies. Who knows? (FYI-The vast majority of small businesses already pay their employees more than minimum wage)

Let’s make raising the minimum wage The Issue in the mayoral campaign over the next few weeks. Fighting it out at the ballot box makes a whole lot more sense than (figuratively) building guillotines out in front of the Chamber of Commerce.

 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Cape Maynard January 17, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Alvarez is owned by the Big Labor ( bankrolling 80% of his campaign). That’s the difference. And why would Big Labor want an increase in the minimum wage when their members earn much more per hour? Like the rest of the media Doug fails to tell us that in many if not most unions their labor contracts are tied to the minimum wage. So if it gets increased their wage does too. How cool is that! So now you know why Big Labor and Democrat politicians are all in on this wedge issue. It’s all about the Benjamins. big labor gets mo’ money that they can in turn reward their Democrat politician supporters with phat campaign cash and robot supporters while feeling super for fighting inequality.

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avatar Frank Gormlie January 17, 2014 at 1:10 pm

So you admit that Faulconer is in the pocket of Big Business? And Big Biz doesn’t want to pay its workers any more than it has to. So is that your version: Big Biz vs Big Labor?

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avatar Cape Maynard January 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Did you not watch the debate the other day? Faulconer said he’d be an “independent voice” for San Diego whenever he had a chance to speak. Joking aside, he’s pro business. When was the last time you saw a labor union creating jobs unless their in right to work states? And was my last post accurate? I noticed you didn’t refute any of it. One last thing. Businesses pay based on the value of the job to their bottom line. That’s why no skill jobs like at Mickey dees pay minimum wage to start instead of $15 per hour. Raising it beyond the value to the biz will just result in less jobs/hours, automation and or higher prices for the rest of us.

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avatar Dana Levy January 19, 2014 at 8:03 am

CM is completely wrong. All we have to sell is our labor (whether a person is college educated, fresh into the labor market, or somewhere in between) and whether it is with our minds or backs or both, it is all we are worth to any employer. Nobody pays us money or provides medical and pension benefits. etc., out of the goodness of their hearts. These “treasures” must be earned by determination, sweat, and sometimes tears. Unions know that the minimum wage issue is a social issue not a monetary one and if the least of us don’t prosper we all pay for it one way or the other through government assistance or medical trips to the ER as the last place for care with no insurance coverage, etc. Labor unions do create jobs with a trained ready labor force and better jobs through training and the constant demanding of fairness and dignity. If it weren’t for organized labor we’d all still be working long days for less, have no weekends, child forced labor would abound, and have no security at all (like the good old days!). The phrase that “a rising tide raises all boats” fits here perfectly. We are all better off when everyone gets and expects to get decent raises in wages, benefits, and working conditions to at least keep up with the inevitable inflationary movements and having more discretionary money at the end of the day benefits the economy as a whole, to which we all depend.

I hear a bit of jealousy and resentment in the CM remarks and the casting of unions as the bad guys is patently false. I know for a fact that when an employer can do with out “us” as an employee it will happen no matter what we think or how long we have been there or how loyal or dedicated we might be. Working at Mc Donalds does require skills for that workforce (just not those required for brain surgery) and those workers should be appreciated just as well as the “elite” among us who can garner higher wages. Regardless of what CM thinks we are all in this together and we all need to succeed at all levels to keep the economy and society as a whole chugging along to the benefit of all. I am glad that unions keep the conversation moving to help protect and serve us all whether directly or indirectly by association and community. The minimum wage needs to reflect the base cost of fair and equitable livable standards that our society will not allow to be lower than the minimum acceptable poverty levels and it should be raised the same as the cost of living through cost analysis and observance to decency. Raising minimum wages has never caused jobs to disappear and it is impossible to automate those positions that are subject to “minimum wage” pricing. Yes, it may cost fractionally more for us all to buy these services but then does one ever consider to not shop when the prices go up when we don’t know about it? Cars would still cost 100 dollars and where would we be then? I don’t want to return to the depression era or anything like it where no one has a chance. Minimums are just that and we should all aspire to do better than minimum when what it takes to rise up is education, perseverance, time, and dedication. The starting bar is the minimum wage level and it should reflect where we are and want to be as a society. Raise it now to a livable wage category!

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avatar Cape Maynard January 19, 2014 at 8:56 pm

“CM is completely wrong.”
Oh come on Dana. If I was completely wrong Frank Gormlie would have been all over me. Instead he deflected it into Big Labor vs Big Biz thang. Even Frank knows what I said is the truf. He is a lawyer after all and is no dummy. Doug (the author) didn’t even chime in but I think he’s kinda like Al Gore on Climate Change or Global Warming or whatever it’s called where I’m just a denier and the science is settled because he links to some lefty sites that agree with his viewpoint. BTW did you know the Gore family’s wealth is tied to Occidental Petroleum? When Al Gore’s Senator father wasn’t voting for the 1964 Civil Rights Act he was known as the “Senator from Occidental.” Al and Tipper used to fly on Occidental’s private jets. For real. True story. A very inconvenient truth.

“Unions know that the minimum wage issue is a social issue not a monetary one and if the least of us don’t prosper we all pay for it one way or the other through government assistance or medical trips to the ER as the last place for care with no insurance coverage, etc. ”
Did you read my original post? Union contracts are usually tied to the minimum wage. If it gets increased they make more dinero (that’s money in espanol). How many union peeps do you know that make minimum wage? Probably none. Also, increasing the minimum wage will mean less work for those with no skills or work history. Why pay for that when they can get someone with more experience and skill for the same hourly cost? Maybe the Unions will pay them a living wage holding those “Shame on Company X” banners outside businesses that don’t conform to Big Labor. And will adding $2 to the minimum wage miraculously solve the scourge of income inequality? Nope. It’s strange that you mention ER’s and lack of healthcare. I thought Obamacare solved all that? Sadly one of the (un)intended consequences of the law is the end of the 40 hour work week for many jobs. Many businesses with over 50 full time employees can’t afford it. So they turn many of those full time jobs into part time jobs to get around the law. And the unions… well many are exempt from Obamacare. They get a pass because they spent hundreds of millions of dollars to elect those that supported the law – all democrats. So much for equal justice under law right?

” Labor unions do create jobs with a trained ready labor force and better jobs through training and the constant demanding of fairness and dignity.”
Huh?

” If it weren’t for organized labor we’d all still be working long days for less, have no weekends, child forced labor would abound, and have no security at all (like the good old days!).”
Yeah, I’ll give you that but it’s a bit heavy on the hyperbole. Read about Henry Ford and the 8 hour day.

“The phrase that “a rising tide raises all boats” fits here perfectly.”
Do you feel the same way about tax relief? You do know the top 10% pay 70% of all income taxes right? That’s tax payer inequality, straight up. Fair share? Skin in the game?

“We are all better off when everyone gets and expects to get decent raises in wages, benefits, and working conditions to at least keep up with the inevitable inflationary movements and having more discretionary money at the end of the day benefits the economy as a whole, to which we all depend. ”
I suppose but you do realize you’re really not supposed to sustain yourself or a family on the minimum wage – unless you’re an illegal. As for more discretionary money did you happen to read Brenda Mc Farlane’s post about her Rx issues? Check it and the comments… http://obrag.org/?p=79651
She’s paying an affordable $454 a month for Obamacare insurance that won’t cover her Rx. She might get a subsidy (redistribution of taxpayer $) but probably not. That’s $454 that’s going to Obama’s health insurance pals instead of local businesses and the people that work in them.

“Working at Mc Donalds does require skills for that workforce”
Dude, have you been to a McDonalds lately? They mess up my orders constantly. Like giving me a cheeseburger without cheese. But they deserve a living wage. How about $20 an hour? Better yet let’s make it $30. That’s the average UAW hourly rate. If some schlub in Detroit can get that by putting bolts on a car then the skys the limit.

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avatar Dana Levy January 20, 2014 at 7:54 am

My response is that you still appear bitter and quite contrary with no facts supporting your position except to quote etherial misquotes and statements that are not on target. Union contracts are not and don’t get tied in or related to minimum wages. Where did you get that? We seem to have differing viewpoints on both the value of unions (where would we be without them) and low tier workers (whether just starting out or unable to get better jobs now). If you look introspective and tried to walk a mile in their shoes you’d sing a different tune. Empathy seems to not be in your internal makeup or self-righteousness selfishness rules supreme in your thought processes.

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avatar Cape Maynard January 20, 2014 at 8:12 am

You like apples?

How about this apple…

On its website, the UFCW notes that “oftentimes, union contracts are triggered to implement wage hikes in the case of minimum wage increases.” Such increases, the UFCW says, are “one of the many advantages of being a union member.”
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324048904578318541000422454

BTW I’ve worked minimum wage jobs – when I was a teenager. Maybe it’s different in Obama’s economy. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just bitter because I don’t have any facts or something.

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