Resort Unions’ $18 Minimum Wage Initiative Will Be On November 2018 Ballot

On Tuesday, the Anaheim City Council voted to place the Resort union coalition’s $18 minimum wage initiative on the November 2018 ballot, but failed to authorize an economic impact study after an acrimonious council debate.

Last week, the Orange County Registrar of Voters certified the initiative had sufficient valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The council’s could vote to 1) place it on the ballot 2) adopt it as a city ordinance – or 3) conduct an economic impact statement before doing either of those two. The latter action would move the date for council action to July 17 – plenty of time to place the initiative on the ballot.

The council chamber were full and the crowd spilled out into the overflow room and outside the chambers. The council meeting itself went until nearly 2:00 a.m.

In recent years, public comments at Anaheim City Council have been largely dominated by a permanent garrison of hooting gadflies and progressive activists. This has changed in recent weeks as the business-labor coalition opposing the $18 wage initiative have turned out an increasing number of supporters to voice opposition during public comments.

Representatives of the Resort business community, local leaders and members of the building trades unions criticized the initiative as a well-meaning job killer. They urged the council to authorize an economic impact study in order to provide the public with more information on how the $18 minimum wage initiative would effect the local economy and city revenues.

“We believe this initiative is dangerous for Anaheim. We ask you to do a full and robust analysis of the impact on jobs in our community, the tax revenues that would be generated or lost if this were passed,” said Todd Ament, expressing “bafflement” at why the Resort unions would oppose doing an economic impact study.

“If this initiative becomes law, the effect could be to hurt many of the people who walked door-to-door to get this initiative on the ballot,” said Ron Miller, executive secretary of the LA/Orange County Building and Constructions Trades Council. “However, it will not just hurt them, but it will kill many of our jobs. It will put an end to many of the current hotel projects in Anaheim that are creating local jobs.”

“Everyone of us in the trades can tell you the key to advancement and success in earning a good living,” continued Miller. “And it’s not Jiminy Cricket wishing on a star. It’s education, training, a lot of hard work, and taking advantage of every opportunity put in front of us. Instead this initiative will punish us and take away the opportunity to work on local project.”

“I’m here to ask for a robust, comprehensive and intensive financial impact study. That’s the way you will inform your citizens before they vote,” said Jerry Amante, executive director of the Orange County Hotel and Lodging Association. “This is not a measure that you should take lightly. It’s one that could have a huge impact on this community, indeed on our neighborhoods and their ability to have the services that we are known for.”

Amante told the council the unions initiative’s impacts could cost the Resort growth opportunities, pointing out that “Disney is already talking to Garden Grove” and noting other hotel projects could be canceled.

Initiative proponents – primarily members of the UNITE-HERE and United Food and Commercial Workers unions – wanted the council to bypass the election and immediately adopt the initiative as a city ordinance.  Virtually every pro-initiative speaker mouthed the mantra that the $18 minimum wage initiative was about making Disneyland pay a “living wage” – echoing the union circulators’ pitch when soliciting voter signatures: “this will only affect Disney.”

That, of course, is untrue. The $18 minimum wage initiative directly several major Resort enterprises and very likely dozens and dozens of affiliated businesses, and has been characterized by a leading election attorney as a “litigation bonanza.” If the Resort unions wanted the initiative to apply only to the Disneyland Resort, they could have written it that way – but they chose to make it broad and vague.

Trevor O’Neil, a Republican council candidate running in District 6, zeroed in on that point.

“[The union-funded Economic Roundtable study] considered just one of the employers that would be affected by the initiative and the narrow economic impacts a higher minimum wage would have on its workers without regard to the impact on the broader economy of Anaheim,” said O’Neil.

“That narrative needs to change. This is not just about Disney. This initiative would directly apply to hundreds of employer in the Resort District and have a peripheral impact on thousands more,” continued O’Niel.

Resort Unions Foment Hostile Environment
The atmosphere in the overflow room in the City Hall lobby was shaped by the sympathies of the UNITE-HERE and UFCW members who filled it. Watching public comments on the big screen TV in the lobby, they erupted in boos and jeers whenever someone criticized the union initiative, calling out “liar!” and “shame on you!” The hostility meter really spiked whenever a building trades member spoke against the $18 minimum wage union, prompting UNITE-HERE And UFCW members to yell “Traitor” or “paid by Disney” and other epithets.

However, whenever an initiative supporter was speaking, they would shush people in the room so they could hear talking points with which they agreed.

Hinky Proceedings
Things got hinky and hostile – or rather , more hostile – when the council discussion began. Mayor Tom Tait quickly made a motion to place the initiative on the ballot, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Jose F. Moreno.  Councilmembers Lucille Kring and Kris Murray made it clear they wanted to vote on doing an economic impact study, and Tait assured them the council could discuss that after voting on his motion. [It bears noting that no member of the city council was opposed to placing the initiative on the ballot.

At that point, Murray asked City Attorney Roger Fabela if the council vote to approve the study after voting on Tait’s motion. Fabela said they could not: if the council wanted to do the study, it would have to approve it prior to voting to place the initiative on the ballot. In other word’s the mayor’s assurance was untrue.

It would have been beneficial and illuminating if the city attorney had proactively educate the council on these consequential details prior to any motion being made.

Murray subsequently drove home the point that Tait’s motion would prevent the council from authorizing a study on how the unions’ initiative would impact the economic engine of the city.  Tait ultimately admitted he thought an economic impact study was a “waste of money” and “delays putting it to the voters.” The latter claim made no sense: whether the council voted on June 19 or on July 17 to place the initiative on the ballot, the election would still be on November 6 and the Resort unions’ initiative would still be on the ballot.

Keep in mind that earlier in May, the city council – Tait included – directed staff to have a consultant selected and be ready to move immediately on a study once the initiative officially qualified. At that time, neither Tait nor Councilwoman Denise Barnes – who echoed the mayor’s negative opinion – signaled their opposition to a study or stated their belief it would be a waste of time.

“The people asked to put it on the ballot, and that’s what we should do,” said Tait. The reality is “the people” have not asked to put the initiative on the ballot – 20,000 of Anaheim 133,881 voters signed the petition, primarily under the false pretense that it only applied to Disney employees. “The people” don’t speak until there’s an election. The mayor’s rhetoric disappointingly echoes the progressive practice of unilaterally identifying their policy goals as being “the people’s”.

Murray was aghast at the refusal to conduct the study.

“I can’t actually even get my mind around the fact that we would not want to do our fiduciary responsibility and just ask for even front-line economic impacts for our local community,” said Murray. “We have no idea, nor will our voters, what the economic impacts will be. To not do this is an absolute abdication of our legal and fiduciary responsibility.”

Ultimately, Tait gaveled down Murray’s attempts to elicit further information from the city attorney and his motion passed on a 4-3 vote – with Murray, Kring and Councilman Steve Faessel voting against placing it on the ballot without an economic impact study.

Another day in the City of Kindness.

9 comments

  1. Voter in District 3

    Captain Kindness is incapable of leading by example. This is just more of the same vengeance agenda by Tait and Moreno. Can anyone give an example of anything they have accomplished in the two years of the “people’s council” other than brew city and spiking the pay of Tait’s personal Rasputin Mishal Montgomery? Even long time community activist and volunteer John Dubtin said he’s had it with their corrupt agenda after she chewed him out for defending Julian Harvey. They are despicable!

  2. How the hell did those damn city council members get into office? Wake the hell up people. There are plenty of valid resources around the country showing effects of a dramatic increase in hourly wages, and NONE of it is good. Large and small business owners know the facts and truth regarding how it will be dealt with. Why don’t citizens know or care?

    “The typical restaurant spends about one-third of its revenue on labor costs. Since full-service restaurants make a net profit of about 6 percent on average, it’s obvious that restaurants will not be able to absorb this large bump in wages. Something has to give.” Yep, food and bar prices increase, tips decrease, patronage falls-off and layoffs result.

    If you do care read up on the effects of increased minimum wage in DC. Even the mayor and educated wait staff were against it, knowing it would hurt them the most. Those that blow smoke up their own backsides will likely be vicitms.

    Search for 06/21/18 Heritage Foundation’s article on D.C Initiative 77, New Minimum Wage Law Puts DC Restaurants in a Bind. LOL “Bind” understates the effects. The Heritage Foundation STUDY link by James Sherk is Research Fellow in Labor Economics is a tell all.

  3. Some Daze are Diamonds

    Ada was silent during the entire Julio Perez sexual abuse case. She is a parody of a union leader seeking to protect her flock. She said nothing and covered for Perez. To heck with her and her campaign

  4. OK, at the very end of the June 17th meeting, during closing comments (The 7 hour 53 minute mark.) Councilmember Vanderbilt did ask city staff to meet with the Hotel Owners to try and draft an alternative initiative that…

    Removes Adjacent Businesses to the 4 hotels, so only the large companies have to pay the higher wages.

    Removes the City Manager as the Arbitrator of the ALWI.

    Changes the wage increases rates to something similar to the current LA County wage schedule for hospitality workers.

    Creates a 9 figure Community Development Fund (that is Hundreds of Millions of Dollars) to address Homelessness, Affordable Housing and Neighborhood improvements.

    Has anything happened due to Councilmember Vanderbilt’s direction to City Staff? Nothing was on the July 17th Council Agenda.

    • Vanderbilt withdrew his request. Once the unions and left-wing activists got wind of his request, they bombarded him with demands that he drop his request for an alternative measure.

      • There was more than that. It was impossible to include the offer (from Disney) for a $100K (over 20 years) community development fund, into a referendum for popular vote. It wasn’t Disney’s idea anyway, they wouldn’t have come up with something that unworkable.

        James is gonna work with the City Attorney to come up with a very strict definition of “adjacent.” Apart from that he’s ditched his ideas of “improving” this measure.

  5. Thank you for the response.

    While the City Attorney can do what he wants, the way the Initiative is worded, anyone can file a grievance, then a lawsuit to add a business not initially covered.

    Still waiting for a lawsuit to be filed in regards to how poorly the initiative was written, and should not appear on the ballot.

    It would require UniteHERE and its backers to start over. And then it would be interesting to see if the council waits until the next scheduled city election in November of 2020 to place it on the ballot, or if they decided to pay the additional costs and place it on an earlier ballot.

  6. Maybe there’s something all of us here could agree on – Anaheim Hills deserves the OC Veterans’ Cemetery, after Irvine has (just like the OC Great Park) screwed it up so many times. OC’s Veterans are sick of getting tossed around like a political football, and they are welcome here in Anaheim!

    Item 27 at this Tuesday’s meeting.

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