Meyerson, H. (2014). Seattle’s $15 minimum wage agreement: collective bargaining reborn? The American Prospect. Retrieved from < http://prospect.org/article/seattles-15-minimum-wage-agreement-collective-bargaining-reborn>
Nature of Collective Bargain Dispute
The collective bargaining in this case involved a struggle to increase workers minimum wages to $15 per hour without including tips and other benefits that workers enjoy in that position. The collective bargain was between the Seattle town mayor, business owner and the city workers in Seattle. The nature of collective bargain involved workers demonstrations and the negotiation between the workers spokespersons and the Mayor’s team. This is something that has been happening for quite a long time but at the end of it, the bargain was so strong that the workers had to take part in peaceful demonstration to push their employers to heed to their demands. Although workers have been fighting to have their hourly rates increased, no one has ever bothered to listen to them. In this regard, taking to the streets serves as the best possible option to resolve this issue (Neil, 1944).
Underlying Causes of Dispute
Both unionized and non-unionized workers in Seattle city want their hourly minimum wages to be increased from $ 9.47 to $ 15. This include works working for the state government in the town, restaurant and bar workers, store chain workers among other businesses centered in the Seattle city. However, based on the employers, this would be too high for them to be able to handle the bills. The increase in wages according to them will affect their businesses since they will need to transfer the cost to their customers. Moreover, the city is already the best paying in the entire state of America which together with Washington has managed to give an hourly wages of $9.4. Based on the employees’ views, the town works are receiving the best and thus they do not have any reason to complain. However, workers believe that their wages should be increased regularly and being the best paid does not means that their wages should remain static until all other states get to their level. Moreover, the cost of living is increasing on daily basis and thus, they should be given enough to be able to survive in the city. These contrasting perspectives created a dispute with both sides refusing to compromise.
Economic or Ethical Pressures
According to workers, the cost of living in the town is going up on daily basis. This implies that without increase in their wages, workers in the town will have to lover their standards of living to survive in the current demanding economy. To them, increase in the salary will increase their morale to work for they will not have stress on how to settle some of their escalating bills which include rent, transportation, food, and education among others. On the contrary, the employers claim that they are also affected by the bad economy. To handle the wages, they will have to transfer the extra cost to the customers, an act that may affect their business negatively. Alternatively, they may be required to layoff some workers to be able to meet the new bills. This will also affect their businesses since the remaining workers will have to handle bigger workload than before. Therefore, to them the demand is not viable.
Was the Dispute Resolved?
The dispute was resolved by the law makers of the city. The mayor made a proposition for the salary increment, which involved increasing the salary in bits from the then wages to $15 per hour in a span of 3 years for businesses with more than 500 employees and a longer term for smaller businesses. This included food chains, fast food joints, and restaurants, among others. After a lengthy negotiation with the employers the mayor proposition was adopted and passed to the council. The council reviewed the proposition and set a law where the workers minimum wages in Seattle city was set to 15. This was to be realized within three years in big businesses with over 500 employees and at a lengthy period of about 7 years for smaller businesses.
The Third Party Role in Resolving the Dispute
Although the struggle was initially between the workers and their employers, there has been the involvement of third parties who strengthens the workers bargain by endorsing their demands and supporting them with funds and protection. The third party in this case included Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the city mayor Murray who backed the workers by offering them protection during their demonstration as well as funding. He also took the initiative of drafting the salary proposition to employers which was later adopted by the city council.
Alternative Constructive Fashion of Resolving the Dispute Demonstrations cannot be depicted as the best technique to resolve disputes. However they are commonly adopted when one party feels to be more inferior to the other in a bargain. The more constructive alternative in this case could have been selecting works committee or representatives who would draft the workers’ wages increment proposition and present it to the labor office. The labor office would then communicate the workers request to the employers who would then select its own committee to discuss this with workers committee under the supervision of the labor office. A consensus should be made where the two parties will have to compromise into a certain agreement that is fair to all. Their agreement should then be communicated to the council office by the labor office (Silva, 1996).
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