Rep. Todd Rokita, Indiana Republican and a member of the House Budget Committee, said Monday that legislation to change rules on union-negotiated wages could be a way to address issues involved in the debate over raising the minimum wage.
Mr. Rokita said his bill, called the RAISE Act, would fix federal law that doesn’t allow employers to pay union employees more than their union bosses negotiate.
“This bill … would simply allow employers — employers of union shops — to, regardless of the union contract or in addition to the union contract, give employees a raise based on merit,” he said.
Mr. Rokita, also a member of the Education and Workforce Committee, was speaking at the 2015 Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit, a two-day event hosted by the political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation.
He said the bill is not a direct answer to, but certainly a “pivot for this whole idea about minimum wage, which we know doesn’t work.”
Congressional Democrats made raising the federal minimum hourly wage to $10.10 a key part of their election-year agenda, saying the move would help lift struggling Americans out of poverty, but Republicans have argued that it would cost the economy jobs. The legislation stalled at the federal level, but ballot measures to increase wages were passed in a handful of states.
“What a great answer this could be to that discussion,” he said. “The answer to the minimum wage, yes — to put more money in people’s pocket is through something like the RAISE Act, where people can get rewarded for what they do … for the dignity of their work and not as necessarily a handout to a union-negotiated contract.”
The AFL-CIO has opposed such legislation, which GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has pushed in the Senate, saying it would undermine the collective bargaining process.