tv Washington Journal Ben Zipper Discusses Minimum Wage Laws CSPAN September 4, 2017 8:30am-9:01am EDT
and you name it. and unions won't be able to fight back. host: i got your point. mark mix, a chance to respond and explain how the national right to work legal defense foundation is funded and how it's operated. guest: mike makes the point about -- well, obviously made lots of points about me and my ability to speak here this morning. i think c-span for the opportunity to talk about this issue because the right to work foundation represents employees like mike and they come to us with concerns, obviously a different viewpoint than mike but the idea that somehow this is an attack, union officials raise and spend about $20 billion a year. that's a pretty big operation. in fact, their political operation according to studies from their own reports here in washington, they spend $1.7 billion on politics over the last two years in the presidential election. that's more than the democratic party, it's more than the republican party and more than donald trump and more than the coke brothers.
it's more than george soros. so somehow claiming poverty in the union movement is not a legitimate argument. maybe for a local union in ohio it might be but for the national unions they are political powerhouses with lots of funds. as far as the right to work legal defense foundation we rely on contributions given voluntarily to support the work we do. the average contribution is around $74 and we get reports from private foundations and individuals mostly, some small businesses but not large businesses by any stretch of the manual nation. host: james, line for independents, go ahead. caller: here in michigan, i know back in 2012 michigan went right to work but interestingly enough, you have police and fire lobby, those unions lobbies very hard and it was granted to them. michigan state police troopers had the constitutionally right to collectively bargain since the michigan constitution was ratified in 1963. my question is twofold.
one, what efforts is your organization making to ensure police and fire are provided the right to work opportunity that you think is so important and secondly, what is being done nationwide to ensure that winners and losers such as here in michigan, winners and losers aren't being picked because as i noted again, police and fire unions are carved out because they lobbied very, very hard to ensure that they still had compulsory eunice him in their trade. guest: james, we opposed that carve out in the michigan law and somehow you are actually -- allegedly benefiting police and firefighters by continuing to force them to pay union dues as a condition of keeping your job and don't understand that rationale. we've litigated on behalf of police and firefighters across the country in their hope they won't be forced to pay deuce and fees and had cases in st. louis and cases in the northeast representing police and firefighters individually
who have had their rights violated by these compulsory eunice him agreements. the police and firefighter labor policy is part of state law and not federal law so each state has a different policy in that regard and we continue to operate at the state level to try to fix that problem as well and will continue to do that in michigan. host: if you want to check out more work by mark mix and the national right to work legal defense foundation, nrtw.org. appreciate your time. come back again. guest: i will. thanks for the opportunity. host: up next on this labor day we continue our focus on issues impacting american workers and we'll be joined by ben zipper, an economist with the economic policy institute and be talking about the minimum wage debate in this country. we'll be right back.
>> today, labor day, on c-span at 6:45 eastern, former president obama accepts the annual j.f.k. profile and courage award. at 8:00, columnist and national review senior editor, jonah goldberg. >> conservative shoes not place all their hopes in any politician. go back and read the federalist papers. they say this over and over again. that you should have a healthy distrust of any political leader. sometimes particularly the ones that claim to be speaking for you. >> then at 9:00 p.m. eastern, the university of southern california annenberg professor diane winston. >> six corporations own much of the american news media and the digital revolution has meanwhile transformed the economy. networks and daily newspapers
no longer set our national agenda. instead, many of us find information niches that einforce our opinions. growing polarization seems to have split us in two nations. >> watch today on c-span and c-span.org and listen on the free c-span radio app. >> tonight on the communicators , the technology fair on capitol hill for members of congress, looking at the latest in drone technology and new security features for mobile phones. >> we want them to see innovation happening in the u.s., happening here, life changing innovation, whether it's health care or car navigation or help in so many other things. so they under the decisions they make have real life consequences. >> watch the commuptors tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span 2.
>> washington journal continues. host: the discussion over minimum wage and we welcome ben zipperer, economist with the economic policy institute here in d.c., remind folks of what e.p.i. does and what its mission is. guest: e.p.i., economic policy institute is an independent nonprofit. our goal is basically to research economic trends, important to low income, middle class workers and families and the united states. been here in washington about 30 or so years and we essentially are trying to provide a roadmap to help income, low income workers and middle class individuals actually have a secure and healthy life. host: epi.org is the website if you want to check them out as
we're talking into ben zipperer. as it comes to the discussion on minimum wage in this country, how many americans are working for minimum wage and what's the percentage of americans. guest: it depends on the location because there's a variety of minimum wages across the united states. there's a federal minimum wage of about $7.25 and applies in roughly 20 or so states. and then other states and local areas have higher minimum wages. on average it's somewhere between 5% and 10% of the american work force earns roughly close to the minimum wage. host: is there a typical minimum wage earner in rural areas. guest: a variety of minimum wage earners. it used to be the case minimum wage earners were mostly younger people but that's changed with the fact that wages haven't grown that much and minimum wages haven't grown that much and now minimum wage workers are more likely to be older workers, they're more
educated than they were in the past but their wages haven't risen in concert with that. host: should note special lines as well, a line for minimum wage earners, want to hear from you and your stories, 202-748-800, a line for business owners, 202-748-8001 and then all others, 202-748-8002 is the number. ben zipperer is our guest with the economic policy institute. as of today 40 localities adopted minimum wages above the state minimum wage laws and st. louis was one of them for a little while until last week. what happened in st. louis? guest: st. louis, so, a variety of states, including missouri, where st. louis is, have passed what sometimes are called preemption laws that prevent local areas within the state from enacting a higher minimum wage in the state and st. louis
passed a minimum wage to increase its wages for its workers to a little above $10 an hour. but the state basically shut that down with a preemption law. host: what happens now, is this thing challenged in court? guest: i think it's challenged in court but largely it means workers in st. louis don't get the minimum wage increase that those voters actually passed. host: how often are these preemption laws being used to block minimum wage increases? guest: they're becoming more common, not just minimum wage increases being blocked but other types of labor relation lations. -- labor regulations. there's about two dozen or so states with preemption laws that prevent local areas from passing minimum wage increases. host: then there's also the veto power of a governor, illinois governor last month vetoing a $15 minimum wage law citing in part a pretty controversial or at least one
that's being talked about a lot, university of washington study on this. explain what happened in illinois and what the study is. guest: right. so the governor vetoed minimum wage increase that was passed and like you said, one of the items that he raised in support of doing that was a study out of the university of washington, studying the seattle minimum wage increase, seattle increased its mine mudge wage in a variety of steps to $15 an hour for most of its work force and there was a study commissioned by the city from the university of washington to examine its effects and they studied the minimum wage increase to $11 to $13 and was the data they had available. and it's very unfortunate because i feel that this study really provides no important guidance on the effects of the minimum wage and is fundamentally flawed in a series of ways. host: the veto message mainstream economic theory and evidence strongly suggests an
increase in the mine mudge wage of this mag my any tude hurts the very individuals it seeks to help the most, through the most thoroughly research to date published earlier this year by researchers at the university of washington found that for every 10% increase in the hourly earnings of low wage workers there was a 30% reduction in employers providing those jobs. you disagree with the data there or how it was used in the university of washington study? guest: i disagree with the study and the interpretation of the governor, unfortunately. most economic research on the minimum wage, at least the research published the last 10-20 years finds minimum wage increases tend to do their job and tend to raise wages and incomes for low wage workers with very little negative effect in terms of job loss. the seattle study definitely was an outlier compared to that research base. and unfortunately the seattle study is fundamentally flawed,
in particular this study actually finds, according to the officers of the study, the minimum wage somehow increased the amount of higher wage jobs which is basically implausible. and the issue here is that this study coming from the university of washington was really unable to distinguish between the minimum wage increase which is what they were trying to study and seattle's white hot labor market where workers are actually getting raises and in that kind of labor market you typically see a disappearance of low wage jobs as people get raises and move into higher wage jobs. host: how long would it take to measure the increase and the right way to measure that? guest: so the study that we were talking about, the university of washington study was commissioned by the city of seattle and i really think that that is a appropriate thing to do for local areas or states that are increasing their
minimum wage and i do think they should try to study their effects. and unfortunate study coming from seattle, the issue is that seattle actually has, you know, a booming labor market. unemployment, though, there is much -- is very low compared to the rest of the state and so it's very difficult to find an appropriate comparison group for seattle and washington state. and that's the trouble the author experienced. host: ben zipperer an economist from the policy institute and here toor your comments about the minimum wage debate. -8000 and 202-748 r others, 202-748-8002 and we'll start with the line for all others from james port, tennessee. good morning. caller: good morning. i just want to make a statement, back in the 1970's,
i rode a bicycle when i was 14 10 miles there and 10 miles back in order to make a $1.30 an hour. and all through my years i went through various jobs and finally got the minimum wage when i was 18 to $3 an hour and i was always given raises. he reason being is i was good. i worked hard and did all this and got into sales. i'm a high school graduate and became a systems analyst making $150,000 a year. but because i worked so hard, period. minimum wage is a starting point. it's not meant to be a living
wage. you get that? host: ben zipperer. guest: i think that's a really important point the caller raised. there are a couple of important issues there. one is that 50 years ago we actually paid minimum waged workers more than we do today which is a really astounding fact. we paid workers about 50 years ago, the lowest paid workers, minimum wage workers, 25% more than we do pay them today, even though the economy has grown over that time, productivity has nearly doubled over that time. secondly, i think i agree with the author that the minimum wage shouldn't be the wage for everybody in this economy and then people should get raises according to their effort and their experience. unfortunately, economic mobility is relatively low in this country and so that's why we need a variety of policies including minimum wages to
boost the bargaining power of workers. host: if you want a good chart to compare minimum wage across the country, e.p.i. has their minimum wage tracker. the federal minimum wage, $7.25 but you see the states that have raised that in their own laws, florida, for example, it's $8.10. you can click around and how many states don't have individual state policies that have minimum wage above the federal level? guest: about 29 states have minimum wages above the federal level but the district of columbia. it's around 20, 21 states actually keep the federal minimum wage which is about $7.25 an hour. host: steve is in orman beach, florida. go ahead, steve. caller: hello. thank you. if we were in a completely free market society, then somebody might be able to make an argument against maintaining
minimum wage. however, large corporations and large employers do so many things to artificially suppress wages. they make deals between, let's say, to corporations own 60% of a certain industry. they'll make deals saying that hey won't recruit each other's employees, they will make ceilings on salaries for certain levels of education, experience and that and going long with just the fact that nobody really enforces price fixing regulations. we need to have that minimum wage. we need to have it artificially stoked in order to fight all the oppressive actions done by employers.
and in florida, the gentleman said that, you know, minimum wage is just for a place for some people just starting out to learn the trade. let me tell you in florida, it's the rule. unless you have semiprofessional job, unless you're a nurse, a registered nurse or an auto cad design engineer or something with a skill, you'll be making minimum wage here. just to set that straight. ut mr. zipperer, thanks. i feel like you operate on a much higher intellectual scale than the person sitting there before you. host: did you want to pick up on anything? guest: yeah, i think there are a variety of important points the caller raised. one gets back a little bit to what the governor of illinois suggested is that mainstream economic theory predicts i'm
sort of putting -- paraphrasing here, mainstream economic theory predicts we'll see negative consequences for low wage workers when we raise the minimum wage and that's just not the case when as this caller alluded to when there's actually power is an important part of the labor market that employers have some power to set wages and once you allow for that as we have in our real world labor market, raising the minimum wage does not necessarily mean that you're going to hurt low wage workers and in fact that's what the empirical evidence shows is that when you raise the minimum wage the employment affects the minimum wage in terms of reduced employment are small or nonexistent and at the same time low wage workers receive significant wage increases. host: to rancho cucamonga, california, michael, the line for all others. michael, how are you? caller: how are you doing? i'm doing fine. one of the things i really wanted to focus a lot of attention on is that the spirit
that allows americans are going through with this wage increase, my state of california, realready approved the $15 hour wage increase that will take effect by 2020. currently work at a foraging company here and make well over minimum wage and one of the things in my industry and a lot of other industries, they're actually gearing up to make an adjustment. the thing about the cost of living and minimum wage being stagnant in our country far too long and it's about time that these people at the top start paying people at the bottom of their fair share for the work being done. productivity is high in our country. that's another thing that's not been spoke about but the people that are putting forth this work to make productivity what it is today aren't getting compensated for it and i really believe if we are to go about increasing the minimum wage that the industry will go ahead and make the adjustment. yeah, more things will become
automated but think about it, don't all of us have smart phones and doing things utomated already anyhow? guest: i agree with a lot of what the caller suggested. thanks for your call. i do think that you're right, that businesses do actually adjust to minimum wage increases. often we hear when minimum wage increases are passed or being talked about we'll often hear complaints it will make it harder for businesses to hire workers and it is true that when you raise the minimum wage that businesses do reduce their amount of hiring but at the same time there are fewer workers that leave their jobs. so that businesses see a reduction in turnover which is a big deal for a business especially at the low end of the labor market. turnovers, significant cost. so raising the minimum wage does entail adjustments for
businesses but they tend to complete those adjustments fine. host: how long should the adjustment make, the caller mentioned $15 minimum wage in california and right now it's $10.50 and will go to $11 an hour on january 1 of 2018 and up a dollar each year after that. guest: right. i think it does make a lot of sense to actually have some kind of staggered or gradual increase in the minimum wage to give businesses and individuals time to adjust to the new standard. and that's why you see, for example, in california or as you saw in washington, states can take several years to fully implement a minimum wage. i do so think it's important once you hit that target, whether it's $15 in california or washington or some other target, it's important to enact regular increases in the minimum wage and why many states and cities when they pass minimum wage increases
they index those minimum wages to, say, inflation or average wages to guarantee there will always be consistent minimum wage increases. host: in newark, new jersey. james is on that line, a special line we have set up for minimum wage easterners, 202-748-8000 is that number. 202-784-8001 s, nd all others, 202-748-8000. caller: how are you doing? much better than the other guy that was on the air. much better. now, most of my life i earned minimum wage. back in the days when i did i got promotions and raises. back in the days. when they gave promotions and raises, that is it. nowadays, that's gone. greed has set in. t also, i have three small
businesses. almost had a small business recently. my fees just got in the way so i couldn't do it. but if i would have succeeded with my small business i would pay $10.10 an hour easily, like obama said. $7.25 an hour id with costs. i would pay $10.10 an hour. host: you're saying you would have paid that. ben zipperer, what is the reaction from business owners to minimum wage laws? what do they think is fair? have there been surveys done on that? guest: there have been. but it's more important to actually investigate what employers actually do in response to a minimum wage increase. employers and individuals, we y one thing but then we have behavior that we can observe after the fact, after minimum wage increase has passed. and sometimes the employers are very supportive of minimum wage
increases and sometimes they're not supportive of minimum wage increases but after minimum wage increase is passed employers tend to adjust to the minimum wage increase and we don't see large negative effects that you might expect if you're very critical of minimum wage. host: tom is in claim payne, illinois. good morning. host: tom is in claim payne, illinois. good morning. caller: why isn't there a maximum wage? these people, like the governor maid $188 million while being governor. so, you know, like $188 million? i mean, $10 million should be c.e.o., the average i think. they are not -- most of these people do not actually work,
they collect derivatives and stock buybacks, they're like conning everybody. and you know, i just think there should be a maximum wage. host: ben zipperer, should there be a maximum wage? guest: the way we can accomplish something like the caller suggested is actually raising income tax rates at the top and that's an issue that would do a lot to address income inequality coming from the top to actually raise top tax rates. because when you have a low marginal tax rate for very high earners as we do in this country, that provides them with a lot of incentive to extract income from where they work and not provide raises to other people whereas when you have a much higher top tax rate, then people at the top are going to have less bargaining power and less
incentive to actually earn those very high salaries that the caller was talking about. host: the caller talked about the governor of illinois, u.s. news and world report, looking at various candidates's finances where they made their money, this report from a little over a year ago, the fonchor talked about how he earned rather than inherited his fortune and moat of his money came as a career of a private equity investor where he helped turn around troubled companies and he never explicitly disclosed his net worth said he's a multimillionaire with assets close to a billion dollars according to tax returns, he released his gross adjusted income, $187.6 million in 2015, most of that from investments. nathan in brookings, oregon, line for business owners. go ahead, nathan. caller: so i just want to thank
you guys for opening up the dialogue on minimum wage. and first off, i'm know expert on the subject. i have a very small business and i think that my philosophy would be more along the lines of, you know, as far as growing my own business. i don't have to be dictated by minimum wage but i'm grow agriculture where employees are going to feel appreciated and rewarded and if i do well, they're going to do well. and i think it's that model that, you know, successful businesses maybe can grab ahold of and you know, i think it's harder for smaller businesses when you're first starting out in mom and pop shops that are scraping to get by and i get that and, you know, there definitely needs to be some sort of floor because you can't take advantage of workers, everybody needs, you know,
enough to get by to survive. certainly money doesn't buy happiness. it's not where people are going to find the most fulfillment in life. but we need tangible things. we need food, water, clothing shelter, all the things that everybody needs and you have to have those in order to, i guess, really be able to think about broader things. and i believe in a society that encourages creativity and encourages innovative thoughts and i think society rewards that kind of activity and that kind of behavior. and you know, if society rewards that financially, really. but i think the people that are rewarded financially in that manner have been kind of an obligation, if you will, to give back to society and try to make the world a better place. host: may i ask how many employees you have in your
business? caller: right now i have one full-time employee. host: what's the right now i only have one full-time employee. minimum wage the out in oregon right now, nathan? $10ler: i think right around or $9.75, i think. business owner, do you think you can do more than that? aller: with the type of individual that i'm hiring, i'm going to have to do more than i'm hiring just somebody to answer the phones nly, then maybe start them at $9.75 and but i wouldn't want to long.omebody there very you know, ultimately, my goal is to get my business stronger and, you know, i want people who are there on the with me to be able to benefit from that, as well.