Despite what’s already happened in Seattle and other, more confined locations, the word on the street out on the left coast is that California has cut a deal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 per hour incrementally over a few years time. This is being viewed as a huge win for labor unions (who will collect more of those meager wages through mandatory dues payments) and the Social Justice Warriors who continue to insist that a “living wage” for anyone receiving a W-2 will cure the world’s ills. It’s not quite a done deal yet, though. (Yahoo Finance News)
California legislators and labor unions have reached a tentative agreement that will take the state’s minimum wage from $10 to $15 an hour, a state senator said, a move that would make for the largest statewide minimum in the nation by far.
“This is not a done deal,” Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, told The Associated Press on Saturday. “Everyone’s been operating in good faith and we hope to get it through the Legislature.”
Leno said if an agreement is finalized, it would go before the Legislature as part of his minimum-wage bill that stalled last year.
One of the complicating factors here is the fact that there are already two union backed ballot initiatives waiting to go before the public, both of which would jack up the minimum wage on different schedules. Passing the law would be rather pointless if the ballot schemes work out, but the unions won’t pull those initiatives unless and until the legislative route is actually set in stone.
So how will the employers in the Golden State be doing when this goes into effect? The state government didn’t even have time for the ink to dry on the press release before the panic started to set in. (LA Times)
“First, you have to raise prices, otherwise you’ll be out of business,” said [Selwyn] Yosslowitz, president of the Marmalade Café, which operates seven Southland restaurants and an outlet at LAX. Restaurant owners also have to think about “re-engineering the menu” to require fewer kitchen workers.
“We will try to re-engineer the labor force,” he said. “Maybe try to reduce the number of bus boys and ask servers to bus tables.”
That’s only one of many stories out there, with plenty (though not nearly all) of them coming from the food service industry. One can only imagine how thrilled the waiters and waitresses will be when they’re asked to bus tables in addition to their regular duties after the bus boys are cut loose. And the customers will simply need to adjust to having fewer menu options. If you’re going to cut back on the kitchen staff, you’ll need to slim down the production line so they can focus on a smaller number of dishes they can make in larger numbers. But I suppose if all the eateries have to do it the customers will have no other choice. At least they’ll get to pay more for the meals that are still available!
The article highlights another issue which cuts across all industries.
The other big worry: that employees already making $15 an hour, before the hike, will demand a raise as well, Yosslowitz said.
“It’s a chain reaction,” he said.
How do you suppose the more skilled or experienced workers already making $15 per hour are going to feel when they hear that the bus boys are getting the same thing. No problem, you can hear the liberals answering. Just give everyone a raise! But it goes further than rivalries inside a single business. We’ve discussed this here before, but what of the guys working construction or in other fields where some initial schooling and/or apprenticeship is required to get to that $15 mark? Now the person handing them their Big Mac at the drive through window is making the same thing. Will the state simply mandate that everyone at every level must be paid more? You may as well, since the cost of everything is going to be going up as soon as these changes kick in.
But don’t pay any attention to what happened in Seattle, you California dreamers. I’m sure it will work out just swimmingly for you.