This week, fast food workers are striking in 100 cities. They are striking for a federal minimum wage law. . It will be a one-day strike. It’s really a protest, not a strike.
The strike will demonstrate clearly that the trade union movement has no power. There will be very few workers involved. It will not hurt the restaurants. People will cross the picket lines without giving it a thought.
Congress will see once again that there is no support for the minimum wage among voters.
In preparation for this strike, the CBS news show “Sunday Morning” did its lead segment on December 1 on the need for a minimum wage. You can see it below. The only economist interviewed was Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under Clinton. Reich is a big proponent of the minimum wage law, unlike the vast majority of academic economists, who understand the economic effect of price floors: a labor glut and greater unemployment.
Reich reported that the labor union movement has only 7% of the private sector wage force today (3:20 in the video). That is to say, it is finished. Total union membership, including government unions, was never higher than one-third, and that was in the mid-1950s. He did not mention this.
The show featured a divorced woman with two children who has not had a raise in years. She works for McDonald’s. She is a protester.
This is another case of the error called “the fallacy of the things not seen. The CBS news show did not seek out people who are willing to work for less than the minimum wage, and who are not allowed to because of the law. They are unemployed as a result. With an unemployment rate of 7.3%, there are millions of these victims of the minimum wage law. But liberal media never interview them.
The show tried to get interviews with Costco, McDonald’s, Walmart, and other firms. Only Walmart consented.
Each of these huge firms should hire at least one media-savvy spokesman with a Ph.D. in economics. They should pay to have PR firms train these people. Then the spokesmen should come on screen and hammer at this: a minimum wage law discriminates against poor workers who want jobs. The economist should say this: “Are you in favor of the government keeping non-union members from getting jobs at wages they are willing to work for?” Of course the interviewer is in favor of this. This has been the basis for the union movement ever since the early days of Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1933. But business owners are so terrified of economically ignorant and insecure reporters whose careers are in jeopardy that they refuse to send spokesmen to be interviewed.
It is so easy to make the case against the minimum wage, but the hapless businessmen who run America’s largest employers are conceptually challenged. They do not understand the free market economics case against price floors. They do not understand the basics of public relations on economic issues.
The Walmart man did point out that when Walmart asked for applicants in Washington, D.C., 6,000 people showed up (7:40).
What saves them is Congress, which is gridlocked. The House will not vote to raise the minimum wage.
What also saves them is an unemployment rate of 7.3%. Karl Marx called this “the reserve army of the unemployed.” The union movement is dead. There are millions of people ready to work.
The union movement has been shrinking for 60 years. Liberals like Robert Reich still cannot come to grips with this.
The steady erosion of the unions’ government-created monopoly power is one of the great victories of the free market in our lifetimes.