Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, July 13, 2006


You would think that between sex scandals involving public officials and collapsing walls at the Riverfront Park Square parking garage, the Spokane City Council would be too busy to mess around with wage and price controls. Apparently not.

The council just unanimously allowed the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (Are Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman socialists now? Heaven forbid!) to gather signatures to place an initiative on this fall's ballot that would require stores with 95,000 or more square feet to pay a minimum wage of $10.30 an hour with health benefits and $12.58 an hour without health benefits.

Make no mistake. Even though this will affect Home Depot, Fred Meyer, and JC Penney among others, this is aimed squarely at Wal-Mart. The filthy fingers of the UFCW and SEIU unions are all over this. In fact, at the SEIU's Wal-Mart Watch web site, the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter on the South Hill of Spokane is listed as a "Battle-Mart Targeted Site Fight."

For that matter, Moscow and Pullman are also listed as "Targeted Site Fights." Not there's anything wrong with that, right Rerun?

Wal-Mart opponents in Moscow and Pullman have floated the "Living Wage" idea as a strategy to keep Wal-Mart out.

Will there be repercussions if this crazy initiative passes in Spokane? You bet there will be.
Councilman Al French voted to allow signature gathering for the proposed ordinance, but said he thinks proponents eventually want to extend a higher minimum wage law to all employers in the city.

French said the measure may not be constitutional because it singles out one type of employer.
Wendle Motors is threatening to leave Spokane if the higher minimum wage is applied to all employers. So, you'll have a situation where new businesses will stay away, existing businesses will either not expand or relocate, retail employment will decline or be stagnant, workers under 21 and other low skilled workers will be frozen out of the labor market completely, and the higher labor costs will be passed on to the customer, often the working poor this ordinance is supposed to be helping. Don't people realize that this has been tried already in France and other European countries and has failed miserably?

And as far as being constituional goes, it isn't. Article I, Section 9; Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution states:
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
Every state Constitution has the same provision. A bill of attainder is a law aimed specifically at a certain individual or group.

But that won't stop the socialists. They may even succeed with a sympathetic judge. Spokane is in the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, which upheld a similar living wage ordinance in Berkeley (of course), and the Supreme Court of the U.S. refused to hear the case. Berkeley's ordinance, however, is like the proposed Moscow ordinance. It only applies to businesses that have contracts with the city. Some 110 cities across the nation already have a such an ordinance. A few others have ordinances that affect all workers within city limits. However, an ordinance that targets certain types of businesses has never been tested in the higher courts.

Political commentator Randy Stapilus says:
Our offhand guess is that the initiative stands a pretty good chance of passage. If it does, it could touch off a wild political scramble that could reshape some important economic dynamics in the Northwest and beyond.
If that's the case, Spokane taxpayers will get to foot the legal bill.

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Scotty said...

I think that Spokane could push businesses to the city of Spokane Valley, I suppose.

The simple fact of the size of the building of the business should equal the amount of money people get paid is as stupid as not keeping score at little league baseball games to make sure no ones feelings gets hurt.

uiprof said...

I'm tired of these sick groups fighting with the poor Wal-Mart basically anywhere where leftist union-activists are living. These folks don't have anything better to do than make the life of the majority miserable? I hope both Moscow and Pullman will succeed in terms of growth (especially retail), as I would be glad to spend my money in the Palouse, rather than take it to Spokane. I also hope that in a couple of years, these cities will catch up a bit, because the rest of the World won't wait for us...