Today's News and Commentary – October 6
A new survey released on Tuesday showed that 83% of restaurant patrons support raising the federal minimum wage and adjusting it annually for inflation. Twelve percent of survey participants said they were business owners, and of that group, 90% supported raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. Reuters reports that raising the minimum wage had “broad backing across age groups and political orientations, including 93 percent of self-described liberals, 87 percent of moderates and 70 percent of conservatives.”
A Wall Street Journal opinion column claims that President Obama’s proposed 40% minimum-wage increase would reduce employment opportunities for those who need them most. As the midterm elections approach, President Obama is calling on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25, but author-slash-restauranteur Andy Puzder believes that “some jobs don’t produce enough economic value to bear the increase.” Drawing upon his experience in the restaurant industry, Puzder thinks that American employers will be forced to cut jobs or raise prices to afford the hike in minimum wage. As an alternative, Puzder encourages creating more middle-income jobs or, if the legislation does pass, mitigate the effect of a minimum wage increase by exempting students or teenagers and considering regional differences in unemployment rates.
The New York Times reports that Facebook’s bus drivers are seeking to unionize, as many say their pay is so low that they can’t afford to live in Silicon Valley and frequently work 15-hour days without respite. The Teamsters have written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to pressure Facebook’s shuttle bus contractor to agree to bargain with the union on behalf of the 40 bus drivers. Among other things, the letter states that “It is reminiscent of a time when noblemen were driven around in their coaches by their servants. Frankly, little has changed; except the noblemen are your employees, and the servants are the bus drivers who carry them back and forth each day.” The Teamsters say a majority of the Facebook drivers have signed cards saying they want to be represented by the union.