This could have been a story right out of the 'ol Onion.
The City of Janesville will be offering a pro-rated tax credit per employee to businesses that pay a "living wage" as a formal carrot in TIF District agreements for new job creation. The credits however will be provided only when the TIF District is financially able to support the incentive and will last two years. In other words, the TIF District fund must have surplus cash in order to pay out the credit.
JVL City Policy Excerpt:
Currently, the Living Wage Index for 2 adults and 2 children is an annual salary of $38,700. This annual salary equals roughly $18.50 an hour. Therefore, if a company provides an hourly wage of $18.50 an hour, they would receive a Job Creation Incentive of $3,870 per job at that wage (or 10% of the LWE annual salary). If a company pays less than $18.50 an hour, their LWE would be lower, and thus receive less of an overall incentive; and vice versa if they wages were higher than $18.50.
Who would be against that? Right?
But here's the thing. For more than a decade and particularly when the GM Plant was up and running, the Janesville Gazette repeatedly posted anonymous rants in their newspaper clawing down the wages and benefits of the unionized local workers. Remember first that these workers, often referred to as union "thugs," were private law-abiding citizens, paying taxes, raising families and contributing both sweat equity and money to the community.
But for years, these vicious posters said workers with merely a high school diploma, a GED or less had no business earning $25+/hr wages plus benefits. The newspaper not only fueled and distributed this hateful mentality, but also participated in the constant barrage of wage envy attacks by way of their editorials. These were not opinions. They were a campaign.
In some of their editorials regarding the GM Plant in the final year of 2008, the newspaper said the high wages helped create a culture of entitlement and stagnancy and at one point referred to the local union as the "catalyst" for the bitterness and hard feelings that separated the people. Imagine that. They blamed the victim for the hate and animosity. To this day I'll never understand why some people have to harm somebody else by clawing them down or advance themselves only by way of other's losses, all because of their own shortcomings.
Members of the local business cartels of Forward Janesville and the notorious Rock County 5.0 also showed their hand when they were recorded cackling over the thought that the loss of middle-class paying unionized GM factory jobs will compel the remaining local workforce to accept lower pay. They suggested this "new normal" will work in the "plus column" for the business organization's purposes.
Sure, $18.50 an hour in 2014 is not the same as a $25 an hour union job w/bennies in 2008, but I still have to wonder from where and by whom did the Janesville city administration get the idea that they want to incentivize and encourage higher paying jobs in this disturbing wage envy atmosphere?
Of course since it is a government lobbied concept, and not the private sector, that will be subsidizing the employer, not the employee, for the higher wage standard while targeting specific businesses in surplus TIF Districts - I think I've answered my own question.
It's a special club.
RNR (June - 2008) The Animosity Behind Poor Wages