Tonight the City Council will vote take up the $18 minimum wage initiative sponsored by the Coalition of Resort Labor Unions. The council will vote on accepting the OC Registrar of Voters certification it had sufficient voter signatures to qualify for the ballot, and then either place it on the November 2018 ballot or adopt it as an ordinance. The council will also vote on whether the commission an economic impact study of the initiative – in which case the vote to place it on the ballot or adopt it would be pushed to July 17.
Ada Briceno, leader of UNITE-HERE Local 11, wants the council to short circuit the electoral process and simply adopt the unions’ initiative as law without even conducting an economic impact study. That’s an astonishing display of chutzpah even for her.
The Voice of OC reported yesterday:
Ada Briceno, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, a union representing hotel and hospitality industry workers, said the fact that it took the unions less than three weeks to gather more than 21,000 signatures of city registered voters suggests Anaheim voters are “ready” for such a law.
So, according to Briceno, convincing 10% of the electorate to sign a petition place a measure on the ballot for voter consideration is somehow the equivalent of that measure garnering majority voter approval. Never mind the absence of an informed debate when voters were asked to sign the petition – and often provided with false information by union circulators (“this will only affect Disneyland…”).
Briceno is advancing a novel theory of democratic government: signature gathering as a substitute for an election. By her logic, if a candidate for Council District 3 garnered 1,292 voter signatures – 10% of the votes cast in the most recent election in that district – the voters would deemed “ready” for that candidate and that person sworn in without the formality of an election.
Briceno’s argument is illogical and feeble. She and the union coalition she leads asked Anaheim voters to sign their petition so they could vote on the $18 minimum wage initiative. Now they’re trying to pull a bait-and-switch, cynically breaking that promise out of pure self-interest. Briceno and the CRLU asked for an city-wide vote on their economically destructive ballot measure. They spent $160,000 to qualify it. Let them have their vote.
Briceno Asks For No Economic Impact Study
Briceno also made the ridiculous case that the city council should forgo commissioning a study of the economic impacts of the union initiative since it is not legally required to do so.
The $18 minimum wage initiative is an economic measure. It will significantly impact Anaheim’s economy – that is the express intent of the union coalition backing it. The unions even paid for their own study claiming those impacts will be very positive.
Given that union report relied on a flawed methodology and magical thinking and was conducted by a union-funded non-profit that specializes in generating studies that support minimum wage increase proposals, the city council has every reason to contract with a reputable firm to conduct an independent study.
Indeed, Briceno’s request for the council to scotch a city-wide vote in favor of direct adoption of the $18 minimum wage proposal should argue in more strongly in favor of conducting such a study. Otherwise, Briceno is asking the council to take a leap in the dark and radically boost the local minimum wage in the Resort without any independent information how that will impact the local economy and city revenues. That is simply reckless.
Last month, the city council held a lengthy discussion on the timing of an economic impact report. Councilman Jose F. Moreno, a close ally of UNITE-HERE, wanted an economic impact report conducted immediately. Other councilmembers wanted to hold off until the initiative petition was deemed to have qualified for the ballot. However, there was uniform agreement that an economic impact study should be conducted.
It will be interesting to watch the council discussion tonight and see whether any city councilmember supports Briceno’s call for bypassing the voters and avoiding informed debate by adopting the $18 minimum wage initiative without any professional examination of its economic impact on Anaheim.