Who Are The Biggest Fans Of Minimum Wage Hikes?

a katz / Shutterstock.com  a katz / Shutterstock.com

Liberal politicians and media love to profile earnest minimum wage workers who benefit immediately from a minimum wage hike (even if they later lose their jobs because of it, after the media has moved on).

But we never see profiles of the biggest winners from minimum wage hikes: the salespeople whose job is to convince supermarkets, retail stores, and fast food restaurants to install self-service ordering and checkout kiosks.

Self-serve kiosks are no longer rare or remarkable; they are sweeping across America–and every time the minimum wage is increased, these technologies become more cost-competitive versus human workers.

In public documents, the companies selling these self-service machines tout their accuracy, ease of use, customer satisfaction, and various other features that are said to make them a wise investment.

But what these companies do not want to be seen promoting is how much labor they save – i.e., how many employees they make it possible to eliminate.

Consider an actual supermarket in Bethesda, Maryland. It has a sticker on its front door proudly proclaiming it has a unionized workforce.

The store has one employee bag groceries for every two traditional checkout lanes. So, for example, to check out six people at once, it used to employ six cashiers and three baggers, for a total of nine employees.

Then recently, over the course of a few days, it installed a group of self-service checkout machines. This cluster of six machines allows six customers to check out simultaneously, with…get this…just one employee monitoring them.

In the course of one week, this proud union shop had eliminated the need for eight workers per shift.

And the kiosk salesperson had scored another commission.

Think of all the self-service machines you saw in 2014. Now chew on the fact that 21 states have increased their minimum wage since New Year’s Eve, making those machines instantly more cost-competitive.

To be clear: there is nothing dishonorable about these salespeople or the stores that add these machines. Labor-saving devices – from the automobile to the dishwasher to the computer – are a basic feature of human progress and should be applauded.

The problem comes when government mandates like the minimum wage artificially hasten the adoption of labor-replacing devices, particularly in the midst of our ongoing underemployment crisis, with our nation experiencing the lowest labor force participation rates in three decades.

Rather than face this issue, many have their heads in the sand.

In the New York Times last summer, an article waxed eloquent about a burrito chain called Boloco. The Times noted how Boloco pays even its newest, least-efficient employee more than the minimum wage, in contrast to other fast food brands that were portrayed as stingy. The co-founder of Boloco was quoted as saying: “If we’re talking about building a business that’s successful, but our employees can’t go home and pay their bills, to me that success is a farce.” He even appeared at a photo op with Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and called for a minimum wage hike, saying that paying his workers more than minimum wage was “a no-brainer.”

But missing from the fawning media was one significant fact: Boloco uses self-ordering kiosks to reduce the need for paid employees.

Last year, for example, in its Bethesda location, not far from the supermarket mentioned above, Boloco typically had one cashier available to take orders–and four self-serve ordering kiosks. So to move five people through the line simultaneously, Boloco did not employ five workers; it employed one.

The kiosk vendor promotes its work for Boloco in materials that hint gently at the labor-replacement value of self-service machines: “Boloco wanted to keep its emphasis on guest service, without having to exponentially increase staff.” But don’t worry; it quotes a Boloco Vice President reassuring us that “Kiosks . . won’t ever 100 percent replace our cashiers. . . .”

By the way, Boloco just closed its Bethesda and Washington, DC outlets. It gave all of its now-unemployed former workers four weeks severance.

Now imagine Bethesda’s labor-replacing mechanization being replicated nationwide, and you have a sense of how our existing unemployment crisis is about to get a whole lot worse for low-skilled workers and the unemployed.

Gallup’s CEO recently posted an essay that called the official 5.6% unemployment rate “The Big Lie,” noting that “as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed.” With government-mandated wage hikes fueling the accelerating wave of self-service kiosks that will take over fast food restaurants, supermarkets, and dollar stores, many more Americans are about to be added to that figure. As union agitators promise fast food workers that they are soon going to make $15 per hour, many are actually headed to $0 per year.

Of course, mechanization is inevitable, over time. Machines get cheaper, and their quality improves. New jobs will emerge to replace many of the old ones lost.

At the same time, people must improve their skills to survive in this new economy. But instead of having a national conversation about the need for struggling Americans to get to work on improving their skills, we continue to debate endlessly the notion that politicians can wave a magic minimum wage wand and deliver pain-free higher salaries to these workers.

American workers desperately need leaders focused on policies to strengthen our economy, improve our schools, speed economic growth, and create new jobs. In the meantime, there are probably more than a few self-serve kiosk salespeople rooting instead for more minimum wage hikes.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Healthiest State Economies Are Right To Work States


This past week, Wisconsin became the 25th state in the union to pass and sign into law so-called “right to work” legislation. Despite the pejorative light oftentimes associated with right to work (RTW) laws, all they do in is proscribe the requirement that a worker join or pay dues to a union as a qualification for employment.

Unions often view laws removing compulsory union membership for work in the private sector as “anti-union,” while advocates of right to work laws maintain it’s a matter of personal liberty and economic freedom. They argue that workers in given trades or industries should have the option to choose whether to join a union or not. Arguably, if a union is doing a good job representing the interests of its members, it should not be threatened by the freedom to choose, as the benefits of union membership would be self-evident.

Even some union leadership supports such a sentiment. Gary Casteel, the Southern region director for the United Auto Workers, explains: “This is something I’ve never understood, that people think right to work hurts unions. To me, it helps them. You don’t have to belong if you don’t want to. So if I go to an organizing drive, I can tell these workers, ‘If you don’t like this arrangement, you don’t have to belong.’ Versus, ‘If we get 50 percent of you, then all of you have to belong, whether you like to or not.’ I don’t even like the way that sounds, because it’s a voluntary system, and if you don’t think the system’s earning its keep, then you don’t have to pay.”

One cannot be a student of history without recognizing the tremendous contributions unions made to the emergence of the middle class in early to mid 20th century America. They significantly improved working conditions, workweek hours, and compensation levels.

In today’s highly competitive economy, their focus seems to have changed, as they seem to be primarily political entities today, with compulsory union dues used mostly for amassing power in the political arena, and spent on candidates and causes that some members may object to. Even Bob Chanin, former top lawyer for the National Education Association, admitted such in his farewell speech a few years ago. “It’s not about the kids…it’s about power,” he said.

According to Department of Labor statistics, only about 7% of America’s private sector workforce is unionized. In the post-World War II era, it was nearly 40%. The trend is reversed for public employees, where the unionized segment of the public employees workforce 60 years ago was less than 10%, while it currently is nearly 37%. Logic leads one to surmise that maybe all those “evil corporations” have gotten it right, and are providing pay and benefits at a level that employees are satisfied with. While the same logic might lead us to believe that, following those trends, it is “evil government” that is taking advantage of employees and must be represented by collective bargaining.

Average wages do tend to be slightly lower in right to work states, as reported by The Wall Street Journal last year. But the differences may be attributable to other factors. As the Journal explained, “Many economists say when differences in cost of living are taken into account, wages are roughly the same—or even higher—in right-to-work states.” When looking at a map of non-right to work states, geographical and cost of living factors seem to affirm that distinction.

Last year, the National Institute for Labor Relations released a detailed study of right to work vs. non-right to work states. The research was based upon data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Census Bureau, United States Patent and Research Office, and Bureau of Economic Analysis. Five economic factors were analyzed in right to work and non-right to work states in the Midwest, with the following statistical conclusions:

Job growth is twice as strong in RTW states. The percentage growth of non-farm private sector jobs (1995-2005) 
in right to work states was 12.9%
, while non-right to work states came in at 6.0%.

Perhaps surprising to some, poverty is actually higher in non-right to work states. The average poverty rate, adjusted for cost of living, was 8.5% in RTW states, and 10.1% in non-right to work states. This may likewise have more to do with geography and cost of living factors, however.

New company and new product growth is significantly greater in RTW states. During that same period, annual percentage growth in patents granted was 33% in RTW states, and only 11% in non-right to work states.

Income growth rates are higher in RTW states as well. The percentage growth in real personal income was 26.0% 
in RTW states, while non-right to work states grew at 19.0%.

Even health insurance coverage in RTW states fared better. Note that this data was gathered before the implementation of Obamacare. The percentage growth in the number of people covered by employment-based private health insurance was 8.5% for RTW states, and 0.7%
for non-right to work states.

Consequently, based on National Institute for Labor Relations research, right to work states create more private sector jobs, enjoy lower poverty rates, experience more technology development, realize more personal income growth, and increase the number of people covered by employment-based private health insurance. Clearly, when looking at the big picture, the economy of a state is more likely to be more robust when the workforce has the freedom to choose.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

In Walker’s Wisconsin, This Banner Shows Just How Much These Union-Funded Militants Hate Cops

Image Credit: YouTube/Media trackers Wisconsin

Radical, anti-cop protests have now spread to the state of a right to work governor who may well be the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

A militant group calling itself Wisconsin Jobs Now (WJN) — which reportedly enjoys financial backing from the largest teachers union in the country, the National Education Association — is going after the jobs of police officers.

The Daily Caller reports on a recent rally and march organized by WJN at which a big banner declared, “All Cops Are Bastards.”

Image Credit: YouTube/Media Trackers Wisconsin

Image Credit: YouTube/Media Trackers Wisconsin

A video from Media Trackers Wisconsin shows hundreds of marchers shouting, “Hey-hey, ho-ho, these racist cops have got to go,” and, “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail; the whole damn system is guilty as hell.” Several Wisconsin locales have been rocked recently by police shootings of suspects under circumstances that have raised questions, especially in minority communities.

In addition to operating with tens-of-thousands of dollars contributed by the teachers union, the radical Wisconsin group promoting the inflammatory anti-cop rhetoric also gets funding from the Service Employees International Union, according to The Daily Caller article.

In Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker has long fought to break the tight grip of union power, so it stands to reason that big labor would direct dollars collected from their members via dues toward groups such as Wisconsin Jobs Now.

So successful has been Walker’s campaign to limit union power that a recent article in The Atlantic labeled the governor “Anti-Union Man” after he signed into law “new restrictions on labor organizing that made Wisconsin the nation’s 25th ‘right-to-work’ state.”

But when it comes to police officers’ right to work without being called “bastards” or being smeared with incendiary charges from radical groups supported by big labor, protestors such as those with WJN seem to have little regard for how their words might further enflame an already tense and volatile situation.

By clicking on the video above, you can watch how the hundreds of protestors organized by Wisconsin Jobs Now recently took to the streets with their noisy, anti-cop messages. Watch until the end to see which Wisconsin lawmaker raised his clenched fist as he joined the WJN rally.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Well-Compensated Teachers Union President Condemns Hedge Fund Managers For Paying Governor Cuomo To Advocate For Charter Schools

Idea Stream

The head of America’s second largest teachers union, who made a considerable six-figure salary in 2014, tweeted an article Wednesday contending hedge fund executives stand to benefit significantly from charter schools.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), tweeted an article from the New York Daily News Wednesday which said, “Since 2000, 570 hedge fund managers have shelled out nearly $40 million in political contributions in New York State, according to a recent report by Hedge Clippers, a union-backed research group.”

The article was highlighting New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push for charter schools. At $4.8 million, Cuomo has been “[t]he single biggest beneficiary” of 570 hedge fund managers, according to the Daily News article. This was Weingarten’s tweet: 

03132015_Randi Tweet_Twitter

Last October, Watchdog reported AFT spent nearly $25 million in political contributions. They also noted Weingarten was to be paid $557,875 in fiscal year 2014.

Reporter Jason Hart made the latter fact known on Twitter to the AFT boss, citing Department of Labor records:

03132015_Hart Tweet Records_Twitter

At least one person came to her defense:

03132015_Randi Evan Tweet_Twitter


Weingarten responded to Hart and another detractor, rejecting the assertion that her salary was in excess of $500,000. However, she admitted she was paid close to $370,000.

03132015_Randi Tweet 2_Twitter

03132015_Randi Tweet 3_Twitter

In a poll conducted in January by the Public Interest and the Center for Popular Democracy, 44 percent of Americans said they favor charter schools, while only 18 percent oppose them. Still, over a third of respondents said they did not know about the issue or refused to answer. One thousand registered voters participated in the survey.

h/t: Watchdog

Share this if you believe parents should decide how to educate their children instead of unions.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Breaking: Senate Overturns NLRB ‘Ambush Election’ Regulation


On Tuesday, the Senate passed legislation nullifying a regulation passed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which would have given companies less time to prepare for a union vote by its workers.

03042015_My NLRB Tweet

The Senate voted 53 to 46 approving S.J. 8 Wednesday. If signed into law, the bill would nullify the so-called ‘ambush election’ regulation passed by the NLRB in December. The regulation, slated to go into effect on April 14, would reduce the time employers have to get ready for a union vote from 38 days to 11 days.



The Hill pointed out the GOP utilized the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to nullify regulations with a simple majority in both chambers. It cannot be filibustered or amended.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. One of the bill’s cosponsors, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., praised the bill ahead of the vote in a press release Tuesday.

“My business experience has shown me that both transparency and trust are essential elements of a strong workplace, and the NLRB’s encouragement of ambush union elections undermines both,” Perdue said.

“A majority of Senators have joined to condemn this ruling, and I will work with all of them to make sure that employers and employees alike have the opportunity to work and contribute to our economy without fear of their personal information being exposed, and with a fair shake under the law.”

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., condemned the bill in a floor speech Tuesday. “Instead of talking about how to create jobs and help working families who are struggling, Republicans would rather roll back workers’ rights to gain a voice at the bargaining table,” Murray said.

The White House has signaled that if the bill overturning the ‘ambush election’ comes to President Obama’s desk, he will issue a veto.

 Share this if you’re sick of the Obama administration imposing regulations without oversight.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom