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Hey DFL - The (L) Still Stands For Labor

Category: Labor
Posted: 05/05/14 14:48

by Dave Mindeman

The Democratic Party has always been associated with the working class. They defend the worker - they promote the middle class. At least that is what they are supposed to be doing.

Now I figure if guys like Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty can figure it out then for Pete's sake, this should be a no-brainer for Democrats.

Santorum has a book out that speaks to his party about working class people. He believes that they can never represent workers until they allow for at least an occasional increase in the minimum wage. He rightly states that the GOP has represented the "job creators" and ignored the "job holders" - at their peril.

For once Santorum makes some sense and Democrats should heed the message. The minimum wage is Democratic bread and butter and that is why it is so frustrating to see wage bills stall in Congress without a fight. And in Minnesota for Democrats to bottle up a minimum wage bill over semantics.

Too many Democrats are letting the Chamber of Commerce have a bigger place at the table than they deserve. They have been wrong about the economy, wrong on taxes, and incredibly wrong on minimum wage.

And as long as I'm on a blue collar rant - let me bring up NAFTA and other free trade agreements.

THESE ARE NOT FREE TRADE DEALS! They are trade deals bought at the expense of worker protection. Free trade that exploits labor is not "free" trade at all. It costs us middle class wages, it costs us jobs, it costs us economic growth. All of that so that business can make more profits that they can hold in offshore accounts to avoid taxes.

It is NUTS!

I have heard more than one political commentator say that John Kerry would have been President in 2004 if it weren't for NAFTA. There is a portion of western Ohio that has never forgiven Bill Clinton for signing NAFTA and those auto workers either stay home or hold their nose and vote Republican - because they feel betrayed. And they were!

As for Minnesota, this is the DFL - with a BIG L for labor. Get back to your roots Democrats. Defend labor. Promote labor. Win with labor.
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Minimum Wage Bill "Compromises" Creates Flaws

Category: Labor
Posted: 04/15/14 00:58

by Dave Mindeman

The compromises that occurred with the minimum wage legislation are very evident. The raw numbers are good and necessary, but the indexing portion has left enough ambiguity to throw a wrench to the works.

Some analysis done for MinnPost posted by David Brauer was especially disconcerting....

Had Monday's deal been in place since 1976 (the year lawmakers increased the state minimum to $1.80 an hour), the minimum wage would stand at just $3.91 today, not the current $6.15 (and all calculations assume a governor doesn't override annual increases, a power the deal grants).

Standard indexing was taken off the table and a lesser form of increases was established in law. This method will NOT keep up with inflation and periodic adjustments will, again, be necessary.

But Republican gubernatorial candidates seized on another provision that will almost certainly become a political football....

Under the DFL deal to raise the state's minimum wage to $9.50 per hour with an inflation index starting in 2018, Minnesota's Commissioner of the Department Labor and Industry can suspend indexing the wage for up to 12 months -- if leading economic indicators point to a "substantial downturn in the state's economy."

Since the Commissioner of DLI is appointed by the Governor, this will become an executive branch option on minimum wage.

This creates a scenario whereby Republican candidates (and the current ones have already stated this) will take the opportunity to halt wage increases for the low end of the wage scale - while Democratic governors will more than likely let the upward adjustment go through.

This will be another means of pitting business vs labor in our quadrennial race for chief executive of the state. Business will side with Republicans and Labor will side with the Democrats.

Now, if the GOP wants to establish a precedent that contends they will always be denying low wage earners any kind of raise, then that is the chance they will take in the electoral process. The election mailers will be out in full force - and there may be some difficulty for Republican candidates to persuade 350,000 workers affected that voting GOP will be to their benefit.

Yes, business will like it and it may help fundraising - but corporate "people" aren't voters....and votes is still the final arbiter.

This minimum wage law hasn't quite fulfilled the potential it could have. I am glad that it passed, but compromises here were unworthy of the effort.

Only time can tell us if we achieved full value for our workers.
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$9.50 Minimum - Indexed - Now!

Category: Labor
Posted: 03/25/14 19:48

by Dave Mindeman

I don't know why the minimum wage issue has become such a problem for Democrats. It has taken us so long to even bring up the issue that it seems mere foolishness to be arguing about side issues.

This only goes to show why indexing is so necessary. Low wage earners need to be protected. They need to keep up with the cost of living. They are the vulnerable ones.

So, I offer a possible compromise. Pass the $9.50 minimum and index it for the next 4 years. Four years and then it has to be reauthorized.

But word it so that the indexing ONLY goes away if the legislature takes it away. Indexing continues if the House and Senate cannot find the votes to repeal it.

Then we will know for certain. We will know if low wage earners can really have a voice in St. Paul. We will know if indexing really is going to hurt small business and will have the opportunity to change it if it has an obvious flaw.

But let's do something. Don't hold it up for office buildings, for cheap business stunts, for conservative rhetoric, or for the worries of rich corporations.

Do it for the hard working, paycheck to paycheck employees who need the dignity of a decent living wage.

Take it away if it becomes a problem. Take it away if you dare.

But first -- give it a chance.
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