Deceptive Union Campaign Garners 51.9% for $18 Minimum Wage Initiative

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.


  1. And so the game continues. Only winners will be the lawyers. The union leaders need to be fired. Bring on some that actually understand the issues. Disney has already raised their pay and the union finally settled once they realized it did not pertain to Disney. Watch as Anaheim loses the other two hotels. I don’t believe in subsidies however I believe in deals. Don’t change rules in middle of the game.

  2. The city should have never allowed itself to become embroiled in what amounted to a failed contract negotiation between a private corporation and a union. The Union negotiators should have been fired by the National organization. Not only did they fail to properly represent their members but at the same time lost out on obtaining future union members had the Disney Hotel been built. The Walt Disney Company saved itself from this mutated initiative. Had Disneyland remained, and had they built and staffed their hotel under this measure, the increase cost of doing business would have simply been passed on to a public that already complains about the high cost of visiting the Disney portion of the resort. Minimum skilled employees should be compensated commensurate with their experience, education and skill for the stated type of job and not because a union threw a tantrum.

  3. Jeez, be happy you got Sidhu, Brandman and Trevor. And J & K. You guys practically took it all.

  4. David Michael Klawe

    And when UNITE HERE starts going after the support companies, like Alsco Linen, since they have contracts with the Hotels subject to the TOT rebate program.

    Or if UNITE HERE wins the lawsuit that says Disney benefits due to the bond program, that it goes after EVERY Business in the Resort District, since they ALL benefit in extra services that are paid by the TOT taxes, such as Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, Joe’s Italian Ice, etc.

    I know for a fact, the jobs at Joe’s are in High Demand due to the tips each employee makes at the service windows. So now we will be paying High School and College Kids $18 per hour PLUS tips to serve treats on/in cone and cups, more than some trained medical staff at West Anaheim Medical.

    How many businesses will be lost, from not building in Anaheim, moved to nearby cities, or just closed down?

    Shouldn’t the Unions just negotiated directly with the Employers like Wincome. Heck, maybe the city should wait until after the Hotels are built and then staffed, and then ask those employees if they even want an Union to represent them, and AGREE to pay Union Dues.

    Maybe in 2020, we should have a Right to Work Measure, since Measure L already assures that the Employees will get a fair wage, why should those employees pay for a Union they don’t need?

  5. Vern, I think you misinterpret both of our comments. Or at least mine. I did not support any of the candidates that you mentioned. I support a deal that was made. The Initiative should never have been needed because the subsidies should never have been offered in the first place. They were, they were accepted and then the union stuck its nose in the issue. Union to blame for this mess. City is not a salary arbitrator. Disney wins and we lose a couple of hotels, union lost the workers. If I am a business and sign a contract, I expect it to be accepted. Now we wait and see what the new, and I did not vote for any of them bring to the table.

  6. David, you are so right. Well said

  7. Is ‘Measure L’ does not apply to Disney then why were they hellbent on opposing it?
    If Disney falls into this law and they delay it with litigation then they are setting themselves up for all that back pay plus more. Bottom line is, Disney was city subsidized and they might still be under contract.

  8. Henry Lipton for Real

    Ada is now running for DPOC chair. In her phone calls, her first pitch is “elect a woman of color.” Why? You Jeff LeTourneau can really run the party like he’s already done. Ada lacks the experience, education and effectivesness to do anything than be a pretty face. She’s an intellectual tusk lightweight. Baden’s should reject her.

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