Minimum Wage — Joe Manchin’s Super-Secret Conflict of Interest

    Sen. Joe Manchin in Washington, D.C., January 19, 2021 (Greg Nash/Reuters)

    Turns out the Senate’s most-powerful member was motivated all along by the irresistible profits oozing out of the La Quinta in Elkview, W.Va.

    From The Young Turks website:

    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the most prominent Democratic opponent of a $15 federal minimum wage, has a financial stake in at least one company that apparently would have to increase pay if such a measure passed, TYT has learned. . . .

    Thanks to legal filings in a bankruptcy dispute, however, we do know some of the holdings of one company Manchin lists in his disclosure form. That company, AA Property, is reportedly 50 percent controlled by Manchin, and is an investor in Emerald Coast Realty, which owns a La Quinta hotel in Elkview, West Virginia.

    According to the careers website, the national average salary for several La Quinta positions is well below $15 an hour. If Manchin’s $11 proposal were to win out, La Quinta hotel housekeepers, for instance, would get an average raise of eight cents an hour nationwide.

    Manchin has said that an $11 minimum wage is reasonable for West Virginia. The state currently has a mandatory minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. At the Elkview La Quinta, Indeed reports that housekeepers make an average of $8.81 an hour.

    Hats off to anyone taking the time to dive through documents in the aggregation age, but the implied supposition here is quite the stretch.

    The headline, “Legal Documents Show Manchin Has Stakes in Companies That Pay Less Than $15 an Hour,” could just as accurately have been, “Manchin Has Financial Stake in Employment of Any Kind.”

    How dare he.

    To follow this to its logical conclusion, the implication is: Manchin resists a $15 minimum wage (which is likely stalled for now after the Senate parliamentarian ruled a broader COVID-relief package can’t pass on a simple majority if the provision remains) because a company he partly controls invests in another firm that owns a single hotel that would have to raise wages under the bill. The cost to Manchin would be so great that he’d rather be a party pariah (though pariah-ship has its benefits).

    Or, just spit-balling here, the hotel would do what $15-wage opponents warn and slash staff/hours in order to offset the expense of the higher wage, and Manchin wouldn’t feel a thing.

    Per the report, the senator hasn’t been fully transparent about his broader business interests, and there’s also the possibility Manchin has an “indirect stake” in a family-tied carpet company that pays an hourly wage under $15.

    But I’m just not sure this is the smoking rug.

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