Backed by more than $1 million in Resort union funding and a deceptive campaign message, union-sponsored Measure L squeaked to a win with 51.9% of the vote. If Measure L survives virtually certain litigation, it would mandate that certain Anaheim Resort businesses raises their minimum hourly wage to $15 in January 2019, escalating each year to $18 in January 2020.
“After continuing to monitor the ballot counting it is now clear Measure L will narrowly pass. This is a tragic outcome for Anaheim. The special interests pushing Measure L lied to voters and tricked them into thinking this flawed measure will help many Anaheim workers. Time will show the voters the truth,” said Todd Ament, president of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.
“At best, it will only give a raise to about 150 Anaheim residents, but it will drive investment out of our City that will cost thousands their jobs and will cost residents hundreds of millions in tax revenue that could have addressed our most critical issues, including homeless services and public safety. It is truly unfortunate our City will now be faced with these dire consequences because of this self-serving, short-sighted and flawed measure. We will do our best to ease the economic brunt that will now be imposed on our City by this special interest agenda and continue to fight for more sensible economic development policies.”
Measure L applies to businesses to which receive economic assistance in the form of tax incentives, sharing or rebates, as well as to tenants and affiliates of those businesses. The principal targets are the GardenWalk luxury hotels projects and the two 4-Diamond hotels planned by the Wincome Group. One of the GardenWalk projects and one of the Wincome projects are already under construction. If Measure L is upheld, it’s anticipated the other two 4-Diamond hotels will be cancelled.
Several weeks ago, Disney withdrew from its tax incentive agreements and cancelled the planned 4-Diamond hotel being built under an economic assistance agreement with the city. Consequently, Measure L does not apply to Disney – an opinion sustained by the City Attorney according to the plain language of Measure L.
Since the Resort union coalition’s campaign messaging was entirely based forcing the Disneyland Resort to pay cast members “a living wage,” Disney decision threw the Measure L campaign for a loop. The union coalition responded by ignoring the language of their own initiative and claiming Measure L does apply to Disney – basing their claim on a convoluted legal theory concocted for the occasion.
All the flood of union-funded mailers deceptively told voters Measure L applied to Disney, and featured the usual Disney union activists who had become familiar faces in preceding weeks. A campaign was rallied to mount a late effort to defeat Measure L – reminding voters that is only affects 150 Anaheim residents, will cost the city 3,000 good-paying jobs and that Disney is exempt from its provisions. Despite being outspent by the union coalition, this business coalition nearly succeeded in beating Measure L.
The next step is almost certainly the courtroom. Measure L unilaterally changes the terms of contracts between the city and the Wincome and GardenWalk projects. It is uncertain how wide a net is cast by the broadly-written language of the initiative. And we can expect the union’s to litigate their claim it applies to Disney. One might wonder why they would do so since the generous wage agreements Disney has recently reached with its bargaining units largely obviates the need to impose them on Disney. However, Measure L also turns the City Manager into a labor relations board charged with arbitrating labor disputes between affected businesses and their employees – and the unions would love to see that provision remain in force.
This battle is not over, and Ament is correct in his assessment of Measure L’s deleterious impact on Anaheim.