On Wednesday, activists across the state took to the streets to demand a $15 minimum wage. The “Fight for $15” rallies were organized by Working Washington, which is funded by the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) and relies on paid protesters for its demonstrations.
Indeed, many of the activists who participated in the rallies are union members—a rather ironic fact. The Washington Policy Center,
“Interestingly, one of the demonstrators featured in a Seattle Times story is a home health-care worker who is also a member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Peggy Myers of Lakewood complains that she is still earning less than $15 after 20 years as a home health-care worker. Isn’t this supposed to be why workers like Peggy Myers belong to a union—to ensure better pay and benefits?
“Myers is not the only forcibly unionized home health-care worker who is not reaping the benefits of union membership. After eight years of forced SEIU unionization, all the 41,000 home health-care workers in Michigan had to show for the $35 million in dues money they paid was a small pay raise to $8 per hour—workers didn’t gain health benefits, vacation time or sick leave. Little wonder than once Michigan became a right-to-work state, 80% of the home health-care workers paying dues to SEIU voted with their feet and left the union.
“Myers may not know it yet, because SEIU is fighting tooth and nail to prevent its members from learning about their new rights, but a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision means she, and other home health-care workers, can no longer be forced to pay union dues. So if Myers doesn’t feel as though SEIU is doing a good job representing her and negotiating fair pay and benefits, she can now decide to quit paying the union (as her union brothers and sisters have done in Michigan). That would save Myers between $600 to $1,000 per year. Of course, SEIU does not believe it should have to prove its worth to union members, rather that members should be forced to pay for representation they may not want or value.”
SEIU is spending a staggering amount of money to fund the “Fight for $15.” Last year, SEIU spent a whopping $23 million to fund the national campaign—that’s money spent to fight for a $15 minimum wage rather than to “represent their current members and negotiate higher pay and improved benefits.” Here’s why,
“One reason labor unions are pushing for a higher minimum wage is because many have negotiated collective bargaining agreements indexed to minimum wage hikes. For example, many union contracts set union wages as a percentage above the minimum wage, or they mandate a flat wage premium above the minimum wage. So a higher minimum wage means new contracts with even higher wages. Higher wages translate into higher union dues.
“Another reason organized labor has made a $15 minimum wage such a priority is because they want to increase their membership rosters. More members translate into more dues dollars…
“Just look at the new $15 wage law in the City of SeaTac. As pointed out by the Washington Post, the battle for a $15 minimum wage in SeaTac, the first city to adopt a $15 minimum wage, had nothing to do with a higher minimum wage, rather it started as an effort to intimidate SeaTac employers into unionizing…
“This is why SeaTac, and now other jurisdictions, have an exemption for unionized employers that allow them to pay a lower wage. Unions created a model where employers are faced with the prospect of paying a higher wage, or allowing a union to organize their employees. Labor unions’ willingness to undercut their own members demonstrates the real motive behind the legislation—encouraging employers to become union shops in order to take advantage of the exemptions. Unionizing becomes a low cost option for employers to avoid paying the otherwise mandated benefits.”
Union members marching to demand a $15 minimum wage would be, ironically, exempted out of the right to said wage if it is adopted… due to the very union that they belong to and march for. And, adding insult to injury, they would still be paying union dues.