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Why Unions Exempt Themselves from Hard-Fought Minimum Wage Hikes by Diana Furchtgott-Roth.

Unions have been at the forefront of drives to raise the minimum wage to $10, $12, or $15 an hour. Take Fight for $15, funded by the Service Employees International Union, demonstrations that occur regularly outside fast food outlets. Or, take Black Friday demonstrations outside Walmart, organized annually the day after Thanksgiving by OUR Walmart, funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers. But now that unions have achieved their goal in Los Angeles, their leaders want to exempt unionized workplaces from the minimum wage hike. . .

. . .In California, San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Long Beach, and San Jose all have minimum wage laws with exemptions for unionized workplaces. One example: The San Jose Minimum Wage Ordinance contains Section 4.100.050, entitled Waiver Through Collective Bargaining, that states, “…all or any portion of the applicable requirements of this Chapter may be waived in a bona fide collective bargaining agreement, provided that such waiver is explicitly set forth in such agreement in clear and unambiguous terms.”

Further north, Seattle-Tacoma Airport had the first $15 minimum wage in the United States, voted into law in 2013. Yet employers that have collective-bargaining agreements are not subject to the higher wage. Section 7.45.080 of the SeaTac Municipal Code reads, “All of the provisions of this chapter, or any part hereof, including the employee work environment reporting requirement set forth herein, may be waived in a bona fide collective bargaining agreement…”

Union exemptions to minimum wage laws are not limited to the West Coast. They can also be found in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Chicago, Illinois.


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