The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 28, 2019

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Federal minimum wage gets rusty 

Michigan ($9.45 per hour minimum wage) and a number of other states require employers to pay more than the federal $7.25 per hour minimum wage.

If that federal rate seems a bit low, it might be because it hasn't been raised for the past decade. According to the Economic Policy Institute, "the last time Congress passed an increase was more than 12 years ago–in May 2007. That’s when legislation was passed to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. (This took effect two years later, in July 2009).

Lawmakers in all 50 states are free to set minimum wages higher than the federal standards, but 18 states still have the wage set at $7.25 per hour.

"Since the minimum wage was first established in 1938," the EPI said, "Congress has never let it remain unchanged for so long. By allowing the minimum wage to languish, Congress is essentially decreasing take-home wages for working families across the country. When the minimum wage remains unchanged for any length of time, inflation erodes its buying power."

The EPI said with the lack of an upward inflation adjustment, the purchasing power for the minimum wage has declined by 17 percent, translating into a loss of more than $3,000 in annual earnings for a full-time worker.

When the minimum wage was last raised to $7.25 in the summer of 2009, it had a purchasing power equivalent to $8.70 in today’s dollars. Since its historical peak in February 1968, the federal minimum wage has lost 31 percent in purchasing power—meaning full-time, year-round minimum wage workers today earn $6,800 less a year than what their counterparts earned five decades ago.

Massachusetts and Washington are the states with the highest minimum wage, $12 per hour.

NLRB adds new ban on union reps

The National Labor Relations Board on June 14 issued a decision that makes it more difficult for union organizers to organize.

The NLRB clarified "whether and when an employer may lawfully exclude union organizers from its privately owned public spaces," according to the National Law Review. Under existing case law, where an employer had invited the public to enter or use space on its private property, the employer could not lawfully exclude union organizers from entering and using that same public space.

The Board’s latest decision, guided by its Republican-appointed majority, "rejects this generalized 'public area' doctrine, redefines what is and isn’t unlawful discrimination for the purposes of determining a union’s right of access to an employer’s public spaces and, broadens employer’s legal options under the NLRA," says the Law Review. In the case in question, union organizers met employees in a hospital cafeteria, which the NLRB has now outlawed, and the new rule applies to banning union organizers from similar public-private spaces.