Milly Silva, “an executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest union of health care workers in the United States,” posted a guest editorial in the 11/5/15 New Jersey Star-Ledger titled Why health care workers fight for $15. The op-ed focusses on the “often heart-wrenching” plight of low-wage healthcare workers, who face “a daily challenge . . . to pay the rent, eat and survive,” even as they “work all day caring for others but every day struggle to give that same level of care to” their own families.
Not to trivialize the fact that many people and families struggle to make ends meet—although it’s easier in our modern industrial economy than ever before: Many do truly struggle and face tough choices. But Silva’s sob stories are window dressing for a statist political agenda. Her purpose is to plug the upcoming nationwide marches by workers organized by the so-called Fight for $15, and scheduled to “take to the streets in cities nationwide” on Tuesday, November 10. Silva opens her piece as follows:
The Fight for $15, the campaign to win a living wage and union rights for all low-wage workers, has captured the attention of millions across the country and spurred a renewed focus on growing income inequality. What began as a series of small protests by fast food workers in New York City three years ago has grown into a major national (and international) movement.
What Milly Silva evades is the nature of the “fight.”
So let me fill in the blanks.
The campaign is not for “union rights.” Willing workers have always had the right, under the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of association, to form unions. The alleged “right” that Silva demands is the power to force unwilling workers into unions, and force unwilling employers to recognize and “negotiate” with the union, by getting politicians to pass laws giving them that power.
The campaign is not about earning raises by persuading employers. It is a fight to force employers to pay wages higher than they would otherwise voluntarily agree to pay, by getting politicians to pass laws giving them that power.
The Fight for $15 is about trampling the rights of others to live by their own judgement. When you demand that government pass minimum wage and compulsory unionization laws, you are not “winning”—i.e., earning—a “living wage” fair and square, nor are you gaining union rights, which you already have. You are taking special privileges by engaging in gangster economics through government (legalized armed) aggression against people who have harmed no one. There is another name for this activity; political cronyism.
“The campaign to win a living wage and union rights” is literally a physical fight, with the government as the hired gun. Minimum wage and compulsory unionization laws are no different from the political cronyism that big business is routinely—and often rightly—accused of. And it is equally corrupt and immoral. That Silva would exploit human hardship to justify such a corrupt campaign disqualifies her and her ilk from any moral right to claim credit for caring about the plight of nursing home and home care workers, especially since success in this campaign will throw many of these people out of work by outlawing jobs that don’t warrant $15 bucks.
The Fight for $15 campaign also highlights the fact that reducing income inequality requires, in large part, waging aggression against success. The only way to artificially raise the lower end of the income scale—that is, to raise low incomes by methods other than merit and voluntary contract—is to tear down the upper end.
The proper purpose of the government is to protect the rights of all individuals to voluntarily associate and contract to mutual advantage, or go their separate ways. A government that uses its law-making powers—the power of the gun—to do the bidding of economic interests seeking to force their terms on other economic interests is more akin to a mob “godfather” than a legitimate government. This is what Tuesday's upcoming marches to Fight for $15 is all about.
Minimum Wage Issue is Not "about what it’s like to live on $7.25 an hour"