Dear Santa Monican:

Many people have been curious about the barrage of confusing messages about our minimum wage law. Thanks for asking. You’re right to be puzzled by what’s really going on here.

The LA Times ad and the multiple mailers are being paid for with national anti-union money. The local “leader” of their movement is a political operative who’s been active in fighting the City of LA’s minimum wage law, and that’s what he’s really doing here.

Your City Council, along with our staff, community members, and local businesses, have been working for over a year on the most progressive minimum wage ordinance in the country. Early on, we committed to the same regional $15 wage as LA City and County. That wage level is not in question.

Further, we are guaranteeing workers sick days, and making sure that service workers don’t have their tips skimmed by employers or eliminated by mysterious “service charges” controlled by the employer. We have written a law that is fair and enforceable.

So why are anti-union dollars being lavishly spent to make it look as if the Council isn’t going to support workers?

We are adamant that workers should fully retain the right to organize in the workplace, form bargaining units, and negotiate their own contracts with employers. Because wages are a key issue in such negotiations, we feel the workers must have the choice whether a certain dollar figure is more important to them and their families than union-negotiated benefits like health care, predictable work schedules so they can be home with their children, etc.

Therefore our Santa Monica minimum wage law will allow willingly negotiated union contracts, in which the workers participate and decide their own terms.

Corporate employers don’t want this. They realize that the $15 dollar wage is fair and broadly supported in the community, and are trying to pervert that support into an attack on unions. They know that our law will pass.

They’re not trying to get Councilmembers to vote for it. They’re trying to get us to gut it by removing the workers’ right to organize.

We’re not going to do the bidding of corporate interests, of course, and can only hope that when community members hear the real story Tuesday night many of the 6,000 who were misled into sending supportive postcards for the anti-union “petition” will openly rescind their support and come down on the side of the workers, where we all should be united.

Corporations don’t need another tool to fight unions.

Kevin McKeown

Santa Monica City Councilmember