On Wednesday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders joined protesting hourly workers of the U.S. Senate to push for a hike in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The proposal would almost double the current minimum wage in just five years. The move by Sanders will put pressure on presumptive frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who is under increasing threat from the far-left base of the party.
Wednesday’s Capitol Hill protest was spearheaded by a number of striking contract workers for the Senate who currently earn far above the federal minimum but less than $15 an hour. In our politically charged news cycle, it is worth pointing out that these workers also earned less than $15 an hour when Sanders and his Democrat colleagues controlled the Senate.
The economics of their employment hasn’t changed since the beginning of the year, only the political leadership of the institution.
Also on Wednesday, New York’s city’s “fast food wage board” is considering a proposal to mandate a $15 an hour minimum wage in the city’s fast food restaurants. The buried lede in this story, however, may be that New York City has an entity called the “fast food wage board.” It is the living embodiment of the left’s hubris in the face of economics.
The minimum wage in New York City is already scheduled to rise to $9 an hour at the end of the year. The wage board proposal would jump-start that for fast food workers and join the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle with $15 an hour mandated wages.
The union-led movement to enact higher minimum wages has been picking up steam, despite the weak economy. It will certainly get a big boost ahead of the 2016 elections, because unions and Democrats view it has an important tool for voter turnout.
Unsurprisingly, the nation’s fast food restaurants have been testing using self-serve tablets for ordering in their stores. McDonalds has been aggressively testing a mobile app for ordering in its New York City stores.
Anyone who has experienced the increase in self-serve check-out lanes in grocery and drug stores can appreciate the ease with which a restaurant could shift its ordering process. Years ago, fast food restaurants began testing systems that would allow them to centralize a lot of even drive-thru ordering.
Each of these measures would allow a restaurant to trim a few workers from each location. These developments are not unrelated to the grandstanding by Sanders and other Democrats.
No doubt some workers would see an increase from a higher mandated federal wage. A large number, though, would find it harder to get one of these jobs.
Their plight, though, doesn’t fit well into a press release.