State of the Unions: Media Spread False Claims About Minimum Wage Workers

Published February 1, 2007

In states considering an increase in the minimum wage, news outlets have been profiling the struggles of those they call the “typical minimum wage worker.”

“They usually portray a mother or a father with at least two children, who are unable to make ends meet on the $10,300 provided by the minimum wage (the poverty line for one person is $9,827, for a parent and child $13,200, and for a family of four $19,806),” writes the Commonwealth Foundation, a nonpartisan free-market policy organization in Pennsylvania.

The people profiled, however, are not the “typical minimum wage worker.”

Fewer than 1.9 million workers earn the minimum wage, the foundation reports. It notes “only 12.7 percent of the benefits from a federal minimum-wage increase would go to poor families. … [Sixty-three] percent would go to families earning more than twice the poverty line and 42 percent to those three times above the poverty line.”

The real beneficiaries of the increased minimum wage are not the working poor, but union bosses. In many states, union wages are tied directly to the minimum wage, so when the minimum wage increases, union worker wages increase, including the cut union bosses get.

AFL-CIO Bypasses Constitution

In “UN-American–The AFL-CIO Picks the U.N. Over the Constitution,” the Mackinac Center for Public Policy notes that in response to “widespread public revulsion” following the National Labor Relations Board’s 2006 decision in the Kentucky River cases, the AFL-CIO appealed the decision to the United Nations’ International Labor Organization. (The NLRB ruled that nurses who supervise other employees cannot be unionized.)

The AFL-CIO said the move was intended to gain “the ‘authoritative voice and moral weight'” of a U.N. labor committee. The committee includes representatives from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Venezuela, and Vietnam, among other dictatorships and socialist nations.

‘Dance of the Lemons’

Those who are familiar with public education know it can take years to fire a bad teacher. The Pacific Research Institute reports that, instead of trying to get rid of them, some administrators promise bad teachers good performance evaluations if they transfer to another school.

The resulting “Dance of the Lemons” circulates bad teachers throughout school districts without holding them accountable.

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has stopped the dance for some schools by signing Senate Bill 1655, which gives the principals of struggling schools the right to pass over bad teachers and hire good teachers who do not have as much seniority.

Ryan Bedford ([email protected]) is a labor analyst with the Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Olympia, Washington.

For more information …

“Fraudulent Compassion,”

“Scratch the surface of the minimum wage hike and you’ll find trouble underneath,”


“New Reform Will Help, but Dance of the Lemons Continues in California,”