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article imageOp-Ed: L.A. union that advocated for wage increases now opposes it

By Q Fulton     Jun 1, 2015 in Politics
Los Angeles - Sorry Rusty Hicks of Federation of Labor, but unions are not about the individual bargaining, but rather the collective. That's why it's called a union.
Joe Solvo said, “Sometimes, if you wear suits for too long, it changes your ideology."
Los Angeles labor unions have been the most vocal and adamant supporters of raising the state minimum wage to $15.50 by 2020. In fact, the state of California has been the leader of the pack by supporting not only a state wage increase of the minimum wage, but a federal one too. That is until now.
As the City Council was set to vote on the issue, suddenly CEO of Federation of Labor Rusty Hicks had a change of heart, or rather ideology. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Hicks said, “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,” and “His provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.” Talk about a switch in ideology. Not to mention being inherently wrong about the mission of unions.
So excuse me as I choke on such nonsense. In what world does Hicks permeate in? The whole purpose of a union is to represent the workers in a collective bargain, not as an individual. A union is a group coalition fighting for the rights, fair wages, and safety of the workers, which pay them monthly dues to protect them against the free market expedience of crony capitalism and tickle down economics.
Even the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce must have been taken aback by the Federation of Labor new position. Suddenly, the Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Labor are on the same side of the coin, in opposition to better pay for hard-working Americans. What?
One has to wonder, has Hicks always had this position of individual bargain over collective bargaining, but kept it hidden from view until the right opportunity came along? Seems there’s no better time to betray principles than right before a vote on the wage increase by the Los Angeles City Council.
Haven’t the unions been insulted enough by politics? After all, membership in unions is on the decline in the United States, aligned with stagnant wages. Though companies have seen an increase in labor production, workers have not reaped the benefits. But somehow unions have become the enemy and are faulted for this. In several states the Right to Work measure has eroded the power of unions, allowing workers that do not participate in unions to reap the benefits of a unions’ win. A party whose ideology is against regulation has no issue regulating unions into evisceration.
The right to work policy of course is the love child of American Legislative Exchange Council that supports and writes legislation on behalf of Republicans. On its website it states it “maximizes individual freedom of choice in the pursuit of employment and to encourage an employment climate conducive to economic growth, that the right to work shall not be subject to undue restraint or coercion. The right to work shall not be infringed or restricted any way based on membership in, affiliation with, or financial support of a labor organization.” The irony, ALEC a private business, is permitted to exist to incorporate itself in labor and law, but prohibits unions from the same. I guess we should omit that unions are private businesses too, except they represent labor and law for workers. But in the world of the GOP, it seems reasonable to choose which businesses benefits from the free market of ideas.
The political right philosophy is maximum corporatism in disguise of maximum individual freedom. Of course, they dismiss that power is in the numbers. The political right worships at the altar of “let the free market work,” and unabated, but for a leader of a union to do is not only odd but detrimental to the principles of liberalism — and consequentially goes against the capitalists principle of chance to "climb up the ladder" in reward for hard work.
Even Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican must be salivating over the news of Rusty Hicks. After all, he has been the one true crusader of eroding the power of unions (ahem workers). Remember, what Walker said of the protesters against right to work, “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the globe." Never mind the fact that unions are not terrorists with guns, but facts are irrelevant when speaking in a divisive tone.
Maybe Scott Walker is Rusty Hicks political idol; I mean how else can this be explained.
Contradictions aside, the LA Raise the Wage was victorious in the end. Sorry Rusty Hicks, but better luck next time with your anti-union fix, while representing a union.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about federal of labor, Unions, raise the wage, Los angeles, los angels chamber of commerce
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