Feb 13, 201411:06 AMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
Are government-mandated living wages coming to an end?
(page 1 of 2)
The Wisconsin Legislature is about to pre-empt all municipal “living wage” ordinances (currently requiring a minimum wage of $11.33/hour in Dane and Milwaukee counties) wherever state or federal money is used. Given that most social services are financed by federal and state governments as pass-through spending, that is significant. Turns out Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is a prime backer of Sub 1 to Assembly Bill 750, having just been slammed by a living wage ordinance enacted Feb. 6 by a veto-proof vote of his county board.
Abele, btw, is a Democrat, but apparently he’s also part of ALEC’s vast right-wing conspiracy. The bill is supported by the National Federation of Independent Business and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
Wisconsin Jobs Now! Executive Director Jennifer Epps-Addison calls it an “underhanded attack the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Act 10.” (Wednesday, Feb. 12, was the third anniversary of the unions’ failed intifada against the repeal of public sector collective bargaining privileges. How time flies when you’re …!) (Jobs Now!’s graphic detailing the “unholy alliance” between Glenn Grothman and Chris Abele can be found here.)
Abele contends that Milwaukee County’s living wage ordinance could bankrupt its Family Care program and cost taxpayers an additional $8.8 million five years from now. Those figures were cited for a once-proposed $12.45/hour living wage, not the $11.33 ultimately adopted. Social service jobs providing personal care to the disabled and elderly now pay $9 an hour in Milwaukee.
Let us quote former Madison alder Brenda Konkel, director of the taxpayer-subsidized Tenant Resource Center and a prime player in the continuing Occupy Madison drama. The white lab coats here at the Policy Research Werkes, who have been paid an almost-living wage since the Nixon regime, have playfully inserted their commentary, in italics. Madame Brenda, you have the floor:
Honestly, as executive director of a non-profit required to pay living wages, it’s sometimes maddening. The living wage has gone up about $3/hr since passed (city, county and UW all have different living wages, also confusing), but I’ve never been compensated by the funding sources that require it for that increased cost. [Welcome to the private sector.] … I support the law 100% despite my major issue with the funders — it’s a problem with the funders not the law. [Live by the government, die by the government.]
Additionally, I’m sick and tired of the state government telling the local government what they can and can’t do. [But you’re not tired of the city telling the private sector what they can and cannot do.]
Blaska’s Bottom Line — Nothing prevents any municipal contractor from paying good wages. The plethora of social service agencies contracted by Dane County — there are 152 (!) — is a jobs bill for well-paid, pencil-pushing executive directors and a ceiling on employee wages. As Ms. Konkel implies, if you want contractors to pay their workers more, increase the funding.
Fiscal restraint … in blue-state California?
A Republican was elected mayor of San Diego, the nation’s eighth-largest city, on Tuesday. The National Review reports that unions poured in $4.2 million to promote the Democrat, compared to only $1.7 million from business interests backing the winner. Despite being outspent by $1 million from all sources, Kevin Faulconer “defeated fellow City Council member David Alvarez by nine points in a city that Barack Obama carried by 63% to 37% only 15 months ago,” the magazine noted.