Cleveland Democratic Mayor, City Council President, come out against $15 minimum wage

We’ve heard plenty of complaints over the “Fight for 15” in the minimum wage battle and they’ve come from the federal, state and municipal levels. But what you don’t normally see is the angst rising up from Democrats. Yet that’s precisely what’s going on in Cleveland, Ohio these days, where the Mayor and the President of the City Council (both Democrats) have blasted a recent push to bring the 15 dollar minimum to the Rock and Roll Capital of the World. As a result, they’ve been sending some pointed letters out to everyone up to and including their party’s presumptive nominee for the presidency. (

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Council President Kevin Kelley are calling out state and national leaders – demanding that they publicly denounce a proposal to set the city’s minimum wage at $15 an hour, while the rest of the state remains at $8.10.

Nineteen letters dated June 3 were sent to members of Congress, state legislators and others, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who is now running for the U.S. Senate…

So far, most have been silent or have refused to commit to a position on the minimum wage proposal, which would affect only Cleveland, putting the city at an economic disadvantage and resulting in disinvestment and job loss, the letters argue.

The letters go on to point out that both Jackson and Kelley are clearly on the record opposing the proposal, and they’re calling on others to join them.

Before we get too carried away in cheering for Mayor Jackson and Council President Kelley, we should point out that they are not citing the many examples of how disastrous a sudden increase in labor costs is for both business owners and workers. In fact, they’ve gone out of their way to remind everyone that they’re in favor of such a boost, but only if it’s done across the nation or at least across all of Ohio. They just don’t want it to be specific to the City of Cleveland.

So where did this sudden push for a 15 dollar minimum wage come from? An uprising from the voters? A sudden populist spirit among the City Council members? Nope. It was cooked up by our old friends in the SEIU.

Cleveland’s minimum wage proposal, which is pending before City Council, was the result of a petition drive headed up by Raise Up Cleveland, a newly formed organization backed by the Service Employees International Union. The group had collected enough signatures to compel council to introduce legislation on the topic last month.

If council rejects the proposed ordinance or adopts an amended version, the petitioners have the option of taking the original language to voters.

Being in charge of a sizable metropolitan area, the Mayor has likely been paying attention to what happened when this particular experiment was tried elsewhere. As we saw earlier this year, Seattle made the same move without the rest of Washington going along with it and their employment in several lower wage employment categories plummeted and businesses closed while employers and workers outside the city border saw an increase in their fortunes. Mayor Jackson would probably like to avoid a similar fate, or at least spread the misery around equally.

A statewide increase would probably spare Cleveland a lot of the pain because they’re a fair distance from the Pennsylvania border (at least beyond reasonable commuting distance anyway) so the jobs and businesses couldn’t easily relocate and serve the same customer base. In that case, they’d only need to worry about the impending effects of automation as robots took over a lot of the suddenly more expensive labor positions. But even if they haven’t fully learned the lessons of basic economics and the laws of the free market, this is a sign that even some Democrats are paying attention to the news and growing wary of the populist tide.

So what did Hillary Clinton say in response to her letter? Thus far… crickets.