Anaheim voters will soon be asked to sign a petition for a ballot measure that would increase the minimum wage in the Resort District to $18 per hour. Don’t do it. Masked by the notion of securing a living wage for hard-working men and women trying to raise a family, this initiative is really part of a grand scheme to force the unionization of thousands of hotel, hospitality, and restaurant workers in Orange County’s tourism hub. Labor unions are not getting what they want, so they are now threatening to exact their vengeance on the entire Resort economy through the ballot box.
At $18 per hour, Anaheim would have the plaintive distinction of having the highest minimum wage in the country – more than even the “progressive” enclaves of San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Jose. As the minimum wage policies of those cities demonstrate, these sorts of mandates exacerbate the very problem they set out to address. They do nothing to improve housing affordability or lower the cost of living; instead, they have the reverse effect due to the inflationary cost of providing goods and services due to the mandate itself, killing jobs in the process. Further, an artificially high minimum wage floor takes away the incentive for workers to improve their skills and move up the career ladder and punishes those workers who have worked hard to do just that.
The unions argue that the City of Anaheim has provided economic incentives to some Resort area businesses, such as sales and room tax rebates, and because of that they should be forced to pay more to their workers. These economic incentives are not uncommon among cities and are used as tools to grow the economy and create new jobs. In Anaheim, these incentives have brought in and will continue to bring in millions of dollars in net new revenue to the City, which goes to fund public safety, parks, utilities, and other vital city services without the need to raise taxes on residents.
As a business owner myself, I am no stranger to these sorts of strong-arm union tactics. In 2014, the Service Employees International Union tried to force the unionization of California’s private in-home care industry by threatening us with a similarly extortive ballot measure. I led the statewide coalition to fight it, and we prevailed. That’s the kind of experience and leadership we need in Anaheim. Our economic prosperity, and therefore the health of our entire city, depends upon it.
Don’t sign the petition.
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Trevor O’Neil is a candidate for Anaheim City Council, District 6. Trevor is a business owner who has served on the Board of Directors for his state and national trade associations, is a former Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman, and is currently a Board member for the Orange County Taxpayers Association.