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    Tuesday, September 17, 2019-7:21:36P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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OPINION | Big Labor’s minimum-wage remorse

BIG Labor has had big success getting politicians to raise the minimum wage, despite warnings that it could lead to more automation. Well, what do you know, now the Oregon AFL-CIO wants voters to limit self-checkout kiosks in grocery stores.

The union still needs the attorney general’s sign-off on the paperwork it submitted last week and 112,020 signatures to get this initiative on the 2020 ballot. But under the proposed Grocery Store Service and Community Protection Act, Oregon groceries could operate no more than two self-service checkout stations at a time. Violators would pay hefty fines.

The draft initiative claims “grocery stores provide many people with their primary place of social connection and sense of community,” but self-service checkouts add “to social isolation and related negative health consequences” for shoppers. It claims the kiosks “contribute to retail workers feeling devalued” and heighten the risk of everything from shoplifting to underage drinking. Oh, and self-checkout stations also intensify “efficiency pressures on workers.”

In 2016 Oregon passed one of the country’s most aggressive minimum-wage laws. The new rate varies by region, but by July 2022 it will rise to $14.75 an hour in Portland — one of the nation’s highest. This added to store costs in a low-margin business already facing competition from online retailers. Ergo, self-checkout.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, an AFL-CIO affiliate, is now piggy-backing off the minimum-wage hikes to demand even higher pay for some 22,000 workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. The threat of the ballot initiative will be political leverage during these negotiations. Big Labor wants higher mandated wages but ignores the job losses that are the inevitable result.