Democrats support a hike in the minimum wage and mandatory paid sick leave—they are policies designed to appeal to public opinion that carry significant consequences. However, Democrats do not support these policies for all work sectors, particularly those sectors that contribute heavily to their campaigns.
As Shift reported, the minimum wage/paid sick leave bill currently before the Legislature contains an exemption provision for labor unions. These bills are championed by big labor under the guise of “workers’ rights.” Labor unions’ real motivation is, in fact, much more self-promoting.
Labor unions’ willingness to cut their members out of these workers’ rights reveals the true motivation behind the legislation—that’s to encourage “employers to become union shops in order to take advantage of the exemptions.” The bill would make unionization a “low cost option for employers to avoid paying the otherwise mandated benefits.” Of course, more unionized employers means more union members which means more union dues, which more campaign money for Democrat politicians.
Labor-backed Democrats in the state Senate revealed the true propose of the minimum wage/mandatory paid sick leave bill when they rejected a second bill that sought to level the playing field and offer workers’ rights to all by eliminating the exemptions. As the Freedom Foundation reports, Sens. Bob Hasegawa (a Teamster for 32 years and head of Local 174 for nine), Steve Conway (UFCW Local 81 secretary-treasurer for 21 years) and Karen Keiser (communications director of the Washington State Labor Council for 25 years) all voted against passing SB 5332, the amending bill, out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.
Sen. Hasegawa offered a rather lame excuse for his opposition. According to the Freedom Foundation, he “explained that he opposed the bill because being required to offer paid sick leave and higher minimum wages would place “hardships” on currently exempt firms.” Hasegawa said,
“I think this (bill) does just the opposite of local control, actually, by exempting—well, what it does is preempt collective bargaining agreements. The building trades, for instance, don’t have a sick leave clause (in their collective bargaining agreements). This would require many of those employers to start providing sick leave if a locality has a sick leave provision, for instance. So while it—I think the attempt is to try and put a level playing field across the board for all competitors within the marketplace, I think it actually gives preference to, or not preference, creates some hardships against some of the employers that otherwise they wouldn’t have to face. So I’d recommend a no vote.
Apparently, Hasegawa has not considered how the bill creates “some hardships” for businesses that are not unionized. The reality is that Democrats are not really concerned with “workers’ rights,” its just a buzz word meant to drum up public support. Considering the fact that the “workers’ rights” bill creates clear winners—the unions and Democrats—and losers—non-unionized businesses and small businesses—it’s quite obvious why Hasegawa and other Democrats want to keep the labor exemptions. It’s privileged treatment that, in turn, helps them.
Republicans in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee passed the bill eliminating union special privileges. GOP Sen. John Braun said,
“(SB 5332) is simply an attempt to ensure that as local communities pass rules such as the minimum wage in Seattle that it’s implemented across the board without exceptions… If we start making laws but yet exempting whole groups from those laws, that’s no longer effective local control. That’s simply choosing winners and losers. And it doesn’t matter whether that’s at the local level or the state level. We shouldn’t be using laws or legislation to choose winners and losers.”