At a mid-morning press conference in front of Anaheim City Hall this Tuesday, the Coalition of Resort Labor Unions (CRLU) submitted eight boxes of petitions in hopes of qualifying an initiative to impose an $18 minimum wage on a number of Anaheim Resort businesses. The current minimum wage is $11. If approved, the initiative would increase the minimum wage in parts of Anaheim by 64%, making it the highest in the nation.
The CRLU claims to have collected more than 22,000 signatures. The question now is whether those contain the 13,859 valid signatures necessary to qualify it for the November 2018 ballot.
The union initiative is opposed by “Stop The Job Killer Initiative,” a coalition of business and civic organizations that has mobilized in response to the significant negative impact such a dramatic wage increase will have on job creation, employment and business formation in Anaheim.
While the signatures were submitted to the Anaheim City Clerk, the actual counting and verification will be conducted by the Orange County Registrar of Voters – which presumably began work Thursday.
The ROV will count all the signatures in order to set the parameters for the random sampling and full count – if necessary.
Next, the ROV will conduct a random sampling by pulling 500 signatures or 3% of the total – whichever is the greater number – and verify the validity of each. If the union reported number of 22,000+ signatures is correct, then 660+ signatures will be randomly sampled. The ROV has 30 business days to complete the signature count and random sampling. Once they establish a percentage of the 660 that are valid, that percentage is applied to the full, raw count to estimate the number of valid signatures collected.
If 110% or moreof the required qualification threshold is derived from the random sample, then the initiative is legally deemed to have qualified. Since the CRLU initiative needs 13,185 signatures to qualify, the random sampling would have to yield 14,504 valid signatures.
If the random samples estimates the valid signatures at 95% or fewer of the qualification threshold, the initiative fails to qualify for the November ballot or any other election. The union coalition would have to start over.
If, however, the sampling yields a signature count between between 95% and 110% of the qualification threshold, the ROV will move to the next phase – conducting a full signature check. It’s also important to keep in mind that the ROV is also simultaneously going through the same exercise for multiple statewide initiatives and conducting the June primary election – so the CRLU initiative is not in command of the Registrar’s sole attention.
The ROV has another 30 business days to conduct the full signature check, which is what it sounds like: verifying every signature until the number of valid ones reaches 13,185 and qualifies – or it doesn’t and fails. If it goes to a full signature check, it could very take be the end of the July before we know whether or not the CRLU initiative has qualified.
Will it qualify? Time will tell. The CRLU effort got off to a rough start. The union coalition had planned to start collecting signatures on March 24 but unforced errors necessitated revising and re-filing the initiative, which delayed the signature gathering start date until April 13. On that day, UNITE-HERE Local 11 poured $158,900 into the signature collection campaign and reportedly paying circulators $15 per hour.
Moreno’s Fiscal Impact Ploy For Time
When local initiatives qualify for the ballot, cities are allowed to and most do authorize a fiscal impact study order to provide voters with an impartial analysis of how the proposed measure would affect city finances. While necessary and vital, the cost of these studies generally in the high five-figures to mid-six figures. For that reason, cities virtually always hold off on authorizing these studies until they know the initiatives have legally qualified. These studies must be completed within 30 days and once they are – then councils vote to place the qualified initiatives on the ballot or adopt it into law without an election.
At the April 24 city council meeting, District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno made a request for the city council to vote on authorizing a fiscal impact study at its May 8 meeting – long before the ROV determines whether the $18 minimum wage initiative has qualified.
Such a study is necessary: the CRLU’s push to boost the minimum wage initiative for targeted Resort businesses from $11 to $18 an hour would have a massive economic impact on Anaheim.
But there’s no compelling public policy reason to spend city funds to conduct one now – before it’s determined whether the measure will qualify for the ballot.
There are plenty of political reasons, however. Due to its own mistakes, the Resort union coalition is racing the clock to make the November ballot and authorizing an economic impact study now buys the unions major breathing space. Keep in mind the $18 minimum wage initiative is not only a leverage mechanism for Resort unions currently in contract negotiations with the Disneyland Resort and some Anaheim Resort hotels – but the Democrats want it on the ballot in order to turn our Democrat voters in hotly contested elections in the 39th and 45th Congressional Districts, the 34th Senate District, the 4th Supervisor District – and the Anaheim mayoral race. All of those are GOP-held seats the Democrats are hoping to flip in November.
Here’s a April 25 Facebook post from the Chicano Latino Immigrant Democratic Club of Orange County calling for volunteers to gather signatures for the $18 minimum wage:
Who is the Vice Chair of the Chicano Latino Immigrant Democratic Club of OC? None other than Councilman Jose F. Moreno.
What a coincidence.
In other words, this is about much more than increasing the wage floor to Resort workers – most of whom do not live in Anaheim.
The CRLU is led by UNITE-HERE Local 11, to whom Councilman Moreno owes a tremendous political debt. In 2016, Moreno barely edged out incumbent Jordan Brandman by 72 votes – a margin due to the efforts of UNITE-HERE Local 11, which flooded District 3 with pro-Moreno precinct walkers. Moreno’s highly unusual request to authorize an economic impact study now is not only premature, but a transparently political attempt to use public funds to place a figurative thumb on the campaign scales in favor of a key campaign supporter.
Given Moreno’s relentless sermonizing about past Anaheim City Council supposedly doing the bidding of political patrons, his ploy to rig the process in favor of the union that helped elect him is doubly ironic.