Los Angeles, CA- As Los Angeles legislation mandating a $15/hr. minimum wage reaches finalization, the leader of one of the country’s largest union federations has abruptly called for a provision that would exempt unions from the mandate.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Rusty Hicks, the Executive Secretary Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, believes union workers should be allowed to negotiate wages that fall under $15 an hour.
“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them,” Hicks said.
“This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”
The Los Angeles Times noted that union activists have spent several months pushing back against consideration of special provisions for certain business owners, including restaurant owners. Some small business owners had argued earlier this year that the minimum wage hike would leave few options to absorb the additional cost of doing business.
A similar city ordinance that specifically regulates wages at large hotels in LA contains an exemption for hotels with a unionized workforce.
Los Angeles Daily News reported on Wednesday that Mayor Eric Garcetti stated he is “open” to the possibility of exempting unions from the mandate.
Garcetti said that the ordinance does not currently have a provision for exempting unions.
“For every local wage ordinance it has ever adopted, the Los Angeles City Council has respected agreements that businesses and employees have mutually reached,” Hicks reportedly said Wednesday. “Big business tries to use every trick in the book to undermine collective bargaining. This is a standard clause to protect basic worker rights.”