Three Takeaways from Unions Demanding $15 an Hour

First, while unions that are part of the AFL-CIO are advocating for $15 per hour, the AFL-CIO doesn’t pay its own workers that much. It was recently reported that an usher working the AFL-CIO’s annual summer meeting where union bosses boasted about their success in championing the $15 minimum wage made well below that “minimum” amount.

Second, Los Angeles-area unions funded a “Raise the Wage” campaign to raise the minimum wage in L.A. to $15.25 while simultaneously seeking an exemption from higher wages for their represented employees. Ironic that unions can tell fast food chains, hotels, and hospitals that if they agree to union representation, their wage bill should be substantially lower, thereby making a unionized workforce the least costly option.

Third, the L.A. unions’ proposed exemption became a reality in Seattle. According to the local newspaper, “After well-funded campaigns by labor unions, SeaTac and other jurisdictions have an exemption for unionized employers that allow them to pay a lower wage and not pay for sick leave. Thanks to the union escape clause supported by labor, unionized employers can legally pay their workers less than what their non-union counterparts earn.”

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at