Tue, May

Who Will Explain To the Workers Why They're Being Downsized?


MINIMUM WAGE, MAXIMUM PAIN-Part of the problem about being an adult is that it's not very fun.  Part of the problem about telling people what they need to hear, instead of what they want to hear, is that it's not very fun.  But do you really want to know what's not fun?  Getting downsized, getting your work hours reduced, and watching your cost of living go way up while your quality of life goes way down. 

Councilmember Mitch Englander did a great job, if anyone had the time or willingness to read from his column and learn why he voted "no" on the $15-an-hour minimum wage proposal. 

But how to explain to workers who are frustrated with the minimum wage as it currently stands?  Or that rents are going up, and food costs are going up, and utility costs are going up, while their futures appear to be going down? 

Of COURSE workers should be paid more, and of COURSE their wages should have more buying power! 

Of COURSE the Walmart's and big employers need to get off their arses and pay their workers and appropriate wage, and of COURSE employers who hire illegally and pay under the table should be fined or imprisoned! 

But let's remember that this City Council--with the exception, in this case, of Councilmember Englander--is the same one who allows the DWP to jack up utility costs and have their workers get obscenely overpaid, and who make it so expensive to do business in Los Angeles, that costs will continue to go up in everything from rent to food to just about anything you can think about. 

But will smacking around mom and pop businesses, landlords and other folks who are NOT part of the 1% help anyone?  Will having small business owners leave the City of Los Angeles to relocate outside of its borders help anyone? 

And most importantly:  will a year-by-year approach to raising the minimum wage, while reducing costs to employers to justify that raising of the minimum wage, help anyone? 

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Where is the outrage about workers who've fought for a $15/hour wage under the current system?  Where is the outrage about LAUSD and LA Community College having free and/or online courses to help workers find ways to budget their money better, where to buy their groceries for less, and learn the skill sets needed to get a better job and move ahead. 

If the City Council is allergic to preserving and growing the middle class, then they're doing everything right by this "ignore the studies and the businessmen" approach.   

And if this City Council is willing to distract the public by this "tell 'em what they want to hear" form of "experiment" at the expense of the City's economy, and I suppose they're doing everything right as well. 

Provided that we're all willing to acquiesce to this lunacy that has failed in Europe, the old Soviet Union and everywhere else it's been tried. 

So who will explain to the workers in the years to come why they're being downsized?


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the  nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at  [email protected]   He also does regular commentary on the Mark Isler Radio Show on AM 870, and co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) 



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