15 TECHNOLOGY & MANUFACTURING ASSOCIATION OP-ED: WHAT DO POLITICIANS REALLY DEMAND WITH THE $15 MINIMUM WAGE? BY JEFF POPE Politicians, including Governor Pritzker, love to be in the news posturing for their support of a $15 minimum wage. While trying to appear full of compassion and being defenders of a living wage for the lowest paid workers, what they really are doing is denying opportunities to some of the very people that need the work the most. At its heart, a significantly increased minimum wage is based on the assertion that every job supports no less than $15 per hour. That is a naïve fantasy. The value of any job, and thus the wage rate it pays, is related to the value of the work being done. Period. Not all work is equal in value. And that is the rub. The choice is not between $8 per hour versus $15, it is $8 per hour versus NO job. My first job was to wash cake pans and scrape floors at a small local bakery. It was my first job and it paid less than $1.00 per hour. In 1966, at the age of 14, I was elated to have it. If the work done does not provide the value needed to justify even a minimum wage, it, and the businesses that need this type of work, will simply not exist - my first job included. The key point is that these jobs are important, even critical, to those who need them. Whether it is the person who has never acquired a skill or accumulated experience, or the person who seeks part time or temporary income, these jobs often fill an important need like nothing else can. They also provide a pathway to a person just starting out and who will shortly acquire the skills, experience and reputation needed to earn a much higher wage. Make the work too expensive for the needed function, and that job goes to a robot and the worker sits at home. Rather than preen and wave so-called “compassion” for the lowly worker, our leaders need to protect the opportunity that minimum wage work provides to those who desire and seek out the work. For many people there are no alternative positions available because they lack the needed qualifications. Eliminating the opportunity to earn even a minimum wage leaves them no other choice but poverty or dependence. Where is the benefit in that? Or maybe, is that what these politicians are really after? Jeff Pope is president of WS Hampshire Inc in Hampshire, IL, and chairman of TMA’s Government Relations Committee. Call Jessica Pierce at: 847.993.2130 or [email protected] LIKE YOUR BUSINESS, YOUR EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE NEEDS ARE UNIQUE. LET US FIND THE BENEFITS PACKAGE THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU HEALTH SOLUTIONS