Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Living wage ordinance may be illegal

My column at Right Wisconsin questioning the legality of Milwaukee County's "living wage" ordinance - or as someone recently called it the the "Living While Unemployed wage" can be found here, albeit behind a pay wall.

The shorter version is this. The new ordinance, which is a bad idea in many ways, requires that no one working for a county supplier or contractor should be paid less than the specified wage. It's indecent, they say, and, of course, by ipse dixit, the majordomos on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors have decreed that each and everyone of those contractors and suppliers can afford it.

But, if one of those vendors and suppliers wants to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with a union - you know, they kind that provides political support to the supervisors who comprise the board majority - then this absolutely essential and minimally decent living wage can be "waived."

This may be illegal for a number of reasons - one of them being that it is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act. Courts have held that it does not permit local ordinances that interfere with decisions - like whether to unionize - that the Act leaves to market forces. While the county can impose certain requirements as a market participant to ensure the quality of goods and services or to obtain the best price, that's not what's happening here. This is a gift to the organizing efforts of SEIU and other friendly unions.

There, as far as I know, no cases which definitively resolve the issue, but if the County Executive's announced veto is overrriden, we may find out.

Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin

1 comment:

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