When you think about bastions of liberal activism, the deep red state of North Carolina is certainly not the first place that comes to mind. The Tar Heel state has given us NRA-graded “A+” Senator Thom Tillis and Representative Mark Meadows, who chairs the House “Freedom Caucus,” which is the fancy new name for the Tea Party. They’ve decimated tax revenue in their own state, driven away a major sports conference with an anti-equality bathroom bill they were forced to repeal, and they have been unrepentant in defending illegally gerrymandered districts that blatantly disenfranchise voters based on race.
And the Republicans there just raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Not for everyone, mind you. The law is aimed at state employees, much like President Obama did for federal contract employees back in 2014 through an executive order. But the fact that the North Carolina state GOP could be possessed to do such a thing when it is contrary to the Republican mantra that raising the minimum wage somehow hurts a company’s bottom line — not to mention the Republican voter mantra that “it’s not fair that unskilled workers should make more” — is absolutely unheard of.
So why did they do it? In a word: Recruiting. No matter what political party you belong to, you understand that the operation of any system of government requires employees, and North Carolina was having a really hard time attracting and keeping employees while offering the low federally-mandated minimum wage of $7.25 an hour — a number that hasn’t gone up in nearly a decade.
According to this morning’s report from the Associated Press, state lawmakers may not have been entirely pure of heart:
The lawmakers’ motives appear to be both economic and political. One top budget writer at the legislature says it helps state agencies retain veteran workers doing often-thankless jobs. But it also wins favor with North Carolina’s chief state employees’ union in an election year for Republicans trying to hold onto their control of the General Assembly.”
Regardless, the move is at odds with the national effort by Republicans to resist increases in the minimum wage, and Donald Trump himself is likely to weigh in on it as soon as he gets done with this round of golf, caddied by kids making minimum wage.
Featured image via screen capture