If he becomes President, Socialist Bernie Sanders wants to establish ‘wage boards’ to ‘set wages, benefits and hours across entire industries’ in order to put private-sector workplaces under government dominance.
On Wednesday, the Bernie Sanders campaign unveiled a 15-point plan to vastly increase the role of the federal government in the private sector.
While much of Sanders’ plan is aimed at unionizing more Americans through eliminating secret-ballot elections, having the federal government to force union contracts on newly unionized companies and their employees, as well as eliminating Right-to-Work laws nationwide, one section of Sanders’ proposal goes far beyond unionizing non-union employers.
Sanders, according to his plan, wants the federal government to establish industry-wide “wage boards” to remove competitiveness among employers–both union and, presumably, non-union as well.
Create a sectoral collective bargaining system with wage boards to set minimum standards across industries. When Bernie is president he will work with the trade union movement to establish a sectoral collective bargaining system that will work to set wages, benefits and hours across entire industries, not just employer-by-employer. In addition, under this plan all cities, counties, and other local jurisdictions would have the freedom to establish their own minimum wage laws and guarantee other minimum standards for workers.
Even his proposal were only to apply to unionized employers, if a Sanders Administration were to succeed in establishing such government control over entire industries, as he proposes, it would be a radical change to the United States economic system.
Sanders’ proposal, however radical it may be, is not original.
The Center for American Progress—a Marxist think-tank—proposed wage boards in a lengthy policy article earlier this year, stating:
The United States needs a different kind of collective bargaining that responds to the changes in the economy over recent decades. In this modernized bargaining system, virtually all workers would be able to collectively bargain; bargaining would occur primarily at the industry level; and workers would have sufficient power to negotiate with employers. This new kind of bargaining can be created through a national policy of bargaining through wage boards, where employers, workers, and the public negotiate collectively. Wage boards would represent a significant change from the current bargaining process, but they have a proven track record in several U.S. states as well as in other countries.
As the Center for American Progress notes, the idea of wage boards has been put into practice at the state level—most notably New York, where a wage board recommended raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Indeed, California, Colorado and New Jersey are currently considering wage boards.
However, by nationalizing the concept and expanding it to include the government dictating wages, as well as benefits and hours of work is something that is an extreme departure from the market-based economic model that the United States economy has been built.