15 Now Tacoma has qualified for the ballot. Unique among all the 15 Now campaigns, in Tacoma they really mean now, n-o-w, as in: As soon as it is passed by the voters. And not just for a small portion of the workers, but for over 95% of them (mainly excluding the kid you hire to mow your lawn or baby sit for you). That majority of the work force won’t have to wait two years, or seven, to get up to $15/hr, when it will be worth less; they’d get it now. (And bear in mind, $15/hour is little enough to live off of.) The initiative would also make wage theft a felony equal to if a worker steals from his or her boss.
Unfortunately, some of the union leadership is not supporting this initiative. Here is an article from the Tacoma News Tribune that explains that, and a quote from one union leader explains why: “We would prefer to try to work together with the business community and nonprofits and other stakeholders to find a path to a wage increase that we can all support and do together,” says that leader. They prefer to work with the employers and their representatives – the Democrats. The excuse is that they can’t match the money big business will pour into Tacoma to defeat this measure. That’s true, as far as money goes, but they could overcome the cash disadvantage by really mobilizing their members, their members’ families, etc. The problem is that, once set into motion, such a movement might not be just stopped like turning off a light switch. But that’s exactly the whole point: To use the minimum wage issue to try to build a wider movement.
And how about the rest of 15 Now, nationally? Unlike in Tacoma, they are controlled by Socialist Alternative, the group that put Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant into office.
It is a complete disgrace that Socialist Alternative is following around behind this union leadership like a little puppy dog, and likewise refuses to support the Tacoma campaign.* What they’re doing is allowing these conservative and timid union bureaucrats to set their program for them. Some socialists.
* Note: Members of Socialist Alternative and their supporters elsewhere in the world are urged to ask their group why they are not the supporting 15 Now Tacoma.