The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor buried the exemption on the eighth page of its 12-page proposal for the Santa Monica City Council to review Tuesday while deciding whether to follow Los Angeles and increase the minimum wage.
The loophole would allow employers with collective bargaining agreements to sidestep the wage hike and pay their union members below the proposed $15-per-hour minimum wage.
“This is hypocrisy at its worst,” the Los Angeles Times wrote in a blistering editorial. “It plays into the cynical view that the federation is more interested in unionizing companies and boosting its rolls of dues-paying members than in helping poor workers.”
Rusty Hicks, the head of the federation, released a statement in May saying that businesses and employees under collective bargaining agreements should have the ability to negotiate a wage below the law’s mandated minimum in exchange for other benefits.
“This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing,” Hicks said.