WSJ Letter to the Editor Oct 6, 2018
The Progressive Politics of $15 an Hour Pay
Regarding your editorial “Amazon’s $15 Political Insurance”(Oct. 3): I own a manufacturing business in the Seattle area. Three months ago, we abruptly gave all our full-time employees a $6,000 a year raise, with none of the publicity and political pressure Amazon has faced. I am positive we did so for the same reason as Amazon: We couldn’t find properly qualified employees at our previous rate (which already averaged over $15 an hour), and we wanted to get the jump on our competitors for the best employees. So far, it’s working.
This is what a sustainable, completely entitlement-free and coercion-free way to raise wages looks like. Nine years ago our company was growing against the current of the 2007-09 recession. Despite high unemployment rates, we still struggled to find well-qualified employees. We were competing against the federal government’s repeatedly extended subsidy for unemployment programs. We interviewed dozens of people who flatly told us they were only interviewing to obtain another log entry to remain qualified for unemployment benefits, and that they didn’t need to work for us when they could get paid almost the same to not work at all—for 52 weeks or more.
Carl Spencer, Monroe, Wash.
Unions in general, and public-employee unions in particular, are leveraging their power in the investment industry and advancing their agenda.
You point out that Sen. Bernie Sanders already teed up the Stop Bezos Act to financially punish Amazon for paying low wages. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act that would give workers 40% of the seats on corporate boards. Meanwhile, the biggest U.S. companies are limiting spending on elections and other political activity, leaving the playing field wide open for union spending.
Intimidation of the private sector—through the collective voting power of trillions of dollars of taxpayer-funded retirement plans invested in U.S. companies—is a way to exert pressure while Democrats are out of power. Keeping corporate money out of politics makes it more likely that Democrats can regain power and do more of the unions’ heavy lifting.
Frank Allen, Charlotte, N.C.■