President Trump rolled back the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” rule
May 4, 2017
Poor Californians migrating to other states, mainly Texas
May 4, 2017

As voters call out for a living wage, GOP lawmakers look the other way

By: Alexsis Beltran

 

In November, minimum wage advocates unleashed a fiery call at the polling stations. The resounding approval of raising the minimum wage is a direct attack on the status quo that sounds unpleasing to pandering politicians and businesses that have taken advantage of the middle-class workers for an unforgettable number of years. (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-05/voters-approved-wage-hikes-but-gop-lawmakers-have-other-ideas)

According to Bloomberg, it was in four states — Washington State, Colorado, Maine, and Arizona – where voters approved initiatives of minimum wage hikes. (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-05/voters-approved-wage-hikes-but-gop-lawmakers-have-other-ideas) Just because a minimum wage hike is resonating to the overwhelming majority of voters, it does not mean that there is no opposing force in the legislature. (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-05/voters-approved-wage-hikes-but-gop-lawmakers-have-other-ideas)

“Just because the voters have an opinion doesn’t make it constitutional,” said Patrick Connor, director of the Washington branch of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/03/11/minimum-wage-advocates-won-big-in-november-but-now-theyre-at-risk-of-losing-all-over-again/?utm_term=.4b0034d6a527) The NFIB has recently partook a coalition of Washington farmers, restaurants and the state food industry to challenge the $13.50/hour minimum wage by 2020 that nearly 60 percent of Washington voters approved, arguing that the ballot initiative can mount undesired consequences to businesses. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/03/11/minimum-wage-advocates-won-big-in-november-but-now-theyre-at-risk-of-losing-all-over-again/?utm_term=.4b0034d6a527)

An argument no different from their expressed dissatisfaction when the Illinois House committee advanced a bill that would gradually raise the minimum wage in the state to $15/hour by 2022. (http://www.sj-r.com/news/20170405/illinois-house-committee-advances-15-minimum-wage-proposal) “You can only raise prices so much,” said Mark Grant, state director for the NFIB. “Your customers will stop buying your stuff. If you can’t raise your prices anymore, you cut other things. You either cut the number of employees that you have or cut their hours.” (http://www.sj-r.com/news/20170405/illinois-house-committee-advances-15-minimum-wage-proposal)

It should be noted that the NFIB is one of the numerous organizations with a record of endorsing candidates in both federal and state elections who stand up for small business, regardless of party affiliation as mentioned on their website. (http://www.nfib.com/advocacy/elections/endorsed-candidates/) And thus, exemplifying “money in politics,” which is the norm and very unfavorable because what is desired for the corporations may be considered before the American people.

In Washington, where voters called for a $13.50 an hour minimum wage by 2020, and Maine, where it was set to rise to $12 that year, state legislators have proposed bills to water down the increases. (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-05/voters-approved-wage-hikes-but-gop-lawmakers-have-other-ideas)

Likewise, the city council in Flagstaff, Arizona has done the same to a local initiative. (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-05/voters-approved-wage-hikes-but-gop-lawmakers-have-other-ideas)

“It just makes it that much better for the public,” says Maine Republican State Senator Scott Cyrway, the sponsor of one of the nine bills proposing a change to the $12 minimum wage law that is already considered by a joint House-Senate labor committee at hearings. (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-05/voters-approved-wage-hikes-but-gop-lawmakers-have-other-ideas)

Last month, Gov. Terry Branstad from Iowa signed into law House file 295 to roll back minimum wage increases already approved in five Iowa counties: Polk County where the new wage of $8.75/hour was set to take effect April 1 and Johnson, Linn, Wapello and Lee counties also have raised their minimum wages. (http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/30/branstad-signs-bills-limiting-workers-compensation-blocking-minimum-wage-hikes/99819450/) And thus, fulfilling a goal that the aforementioned states are pursuing.

Amidst the rising conflict the contemporary civil rights organization NAACP has responded to what is argued as wage discrimination with lawsuits, including one condemning the mostly-white Alabama legislature’s override of mostly-black Birmingham’s minimum wage law. (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-05/voters-approved-wage-hikes-but-gop-lawmakers-have-other-ideas) To a large degree, the organization targets the violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-05/voters-approved-wage-hikes-but-gop-lawmakers-have-other-ideas)

Early this year President Trump signed into law the HJ Resolution 37 that put an end to his predecessor’s “blacklisting rule,” also known as Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces, which required employers to disclose labor law violations, including wage theft, unsafe working conditions, and hiring discrimination they had in the past three years. (http://dailyreporter.com/2017/03/27/trump-signs-resolution-blocking-blacklisting-rule/ and http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/27/politics/donald-trump-sign-regulation-obama-roll-backs/) Such an act solidifies business groups’ bold opposition towards the hikes.

According to The Colorado Independent, workers in the titular state are waiting for their governor’s upcoming response to the Wage Theft Transparency Act, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge. If it is signed, it would allow Coloradoans find out if an employer cheated his or her workers on wages. (http://www.coloradoindependent.com/164762/wage-theft-transparency)

It should be noted that recent studies done in California conclude that wage hikes do not lower worker retention. (http://www.hrdive.com/news/gop-lawmakers-seek-to-rein-in-minimum-wage-hikes-that-voters-approved/439976/) However, potential changes to the federal overtime rule could increase salaries, and thus build up the financial burden of the employers – in states like the Golden State, with their own overtime rule and minimum wage increases already considered. (http://www.hrdive.com/news/gop-lawmakers-seek-to-rein-in-minimum-wage-hikes-that-voters-approved/439976/)

With the federal minimum wage sitting at $7.25 since 2009, there has been a solid sense of hopelessness from the progressive movement as the GOP now controls not only both chambers of Congress but also the White House. Would the low-class continue to bear the brunt of the corrupt system?

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