Will Council Give Voters More Or Less Information On Union Minimum Wage Measure?

That is the essential question the Anaheim City Council will ask itself tonight when it considers Councilwoman Kris Murray’s amended ballot question language for the $18 minimum wage initiative on the November ballot.

The city has 75 words to communicate the most important information about the so-called “Living Wage” initiative in the ballot question. Given the outsize influence that ballot question wording has on voter decisions, shouldn’t the council side with giving voters the most pertinent information?

If passed, the initiative sponsored by a coalition of Anaheim Resort union, would immediately boost the minimum wage at many Resort businesses from $11 to $15 an hour in January 2019. It would increase a dollar a year thereafter until hitting $18 an hour in January 2022.

The current ballot question makes no mention of those key facts:

INITIATIVE ORDINANCE TO INCREASE MINIMUM WAGE PAYABLE BY CERTAIN HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY EMPLOYERS — Shall the initiative ordinance to increase the minimum wage payable by hospitality industry employers located in the Anaheim or Disneyland Resort Specific Plan Zones that have tax rebate agreements with the City, and to require that service charges imposed by such employers be paid entirely to employees, be adopted?

Councilwoman Murray has proposed the following amended language:

Shall the measure raising the minimum wage to $15/hour beginning in 2019, increasing to $18/hour in 2022 ($3/hour more than the State’s minimum wage) and annually thereafter by at least 2%, payable by certain hospitality industry employers located in the Anaheim/Disneyland Resort Specific Plan Zones that either have a tax rebate agreement with the City or are hospitality industry contractors or tenants of an employer who has such an agreement, be adopted?

See the difference?

The union coalition’s primary intent is to immediately boost the minimum hourly wage at targeted business to $15 and escalate it to $18 by 2022. Why wouldn’t one support including that central information in the ballot question for voters to incorporate into their decision making?

Asking a voter if they generally support increasing the minimum wage is vastly different than asking them if they support a specific set of increases. If one manager at a business asked a colleague if they supported giving so-and-so a raise, the first and most natural question would be “How much?”

Murray’s suggested changes are so elementary, and so rooted in common sense, it is difficult to imagine any of her colleagues opposing it – unless they fear that giving voters such pertinent information would make them less likely to support the unions’ initiative.

It will be interesting to see whether a council majority chooses politics or transparency and common sense.

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