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Labor Report

SPECIAL NOTE: Department of Labor and Industry Budget Hearing Has Moved to Monday, Feb. 29th at 3 PM

Minimum WageThe Senate Appropriations Committee’s budget hearing for the Department of Labor and Industry has been moved to 3 p.m., Monday, Feb. 29.

Budget hearings opened on Monday in Harrisburg and, as a member of the appropriations committee, I have been listening and asking questions of Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration.

You can watch the budget hearings live via this link:

Minimum Wage Shenanigans

From the West Coast to the East Coast, supporters and detractors of higher minimum wage rates can be found everywhere.

The only problem?

Minimum wage detractors continue to unabashedly use wrong and/or misleading statistics to fuel their “case.”

Henny PennyIn Seattle, where opponents sounded more like Henny Penny as that Washington city’s minimum wage jumped to $15 an hour, bogus numbers were thrown around like candy at a parade.

As Pulitzer Prize-winning LA Times reporter Michael Hiltzik wrote yesterday in a story headlined, “Why do conservatives keep saying Seattle's minimum wage hike has failed -- without data?” the proof is in a pudding that is still cooking on the stove.

“The problem with using Seattle as an early warning signal for minimum wage increases is that, as yet, there’s almost no good information,” Hiltzik said. “In fact, firm figures for city employment and wages in the post-April 1 period won’t become available until early this year.”

Hiltzik takes apart a columnist who has had nothing good to say about minimum wage despite the mountain of historical evidence against his drum beating. While I’ve not dissected that Forbes columnist, I have challenged others in my Labor Reports.

Tipped Minimum Wage

If you need proof that disingenuous employers don’t like paying their tipped staffs, check the court ruling this week in Las Vegas.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said an earlier legal decision allowing a casino (Winn Las Vegas) to pool its dealers tips and share them, Robin Hood-like, to other employees, was wrong.

Meanwhile, some restaurants in New York are telling customers not to tip wait staff. Instead, they’re slapping surcharges on meal checks.

Social Media & The Minimum Wage

Even if you’re not a minimum wage advocate or a labor rights supporter, I bet you read about that 25-year-old Yelp employee who publicly complained about her pay to the head of her company?

I believe her “issue” is driven more by the cost of living in San Francisco than it is by her $12.25/hour minimum wage pay. I also believe the spread of this little saga shows the power of social media.

Not many people like to be paid minimum wage, and never have. You can argue that a minimum wage-job is a foot in the door towards a larger, better career … but only for some people. The possibility of a more lucrative future existed for this 25-year-old (now former) Yelp employee but not for most modern day minimum wage earners. People work minimum wage positions today because they’re the only jobs they can find. And they work two or three of them to make ends meet and pray they don’t die from exhaustion.

The reality is this: Many multi-million dollar corporations are multi-million dollar because they build their frontline services on impoverished employees.

According to

  • Apple reportedly pays its San Francisco store Mac specialists (a customer service job) around $15 an hour.

  • Eyewear startup Warby Parker reportedly pays $15.32 an hour to its customer experience intern position.

  • Yahoo pays customer experience interns $12 to $13 an hour, per Glassdoor.

  • Bay Area operations and delivery employees for food delivery service Munchery make around $12.55 an hour (the minimum wage in Oakland) according to Glassdoor.

Higher minimum wage rates aren’t going to kill companies, and they never have.

Labor Corner

No commentary here, just some minimum wage and labor-related news from recent weeks that I wanted to share:

Congress Has Only Now Banned Slave Labor in US Imports

Unions and the Fight for Civil Rights

Oregon's Smart Approach to a Minimum Wage

Another Voice: Legislation Would Undermine the Right to Boycott