Raising the Minimum Wage for Working Men and Women in California and the Rest of America

Ron Unz: Minimum-Wage Measure Unlikely to Make Ballot

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Ron Unz, a wealthy conservative activist, says “it now seems unlikely” that his campaign to raise the state’s minimum wage will make it onto the state’s November ballot. He adds, “This will surely come as a surprise to many people, including myself.”

He said in a statement he’d been unable to raise enough money to qualify the measure, which would raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour, for the ballot. A big part of the problem, he said, was that he failed to attract the interest of labor unions he had figured would be natural allies in the minimum-wage fight. Neither did wealthy conservatives volunteer to help bankroll his campaign.

Unz is probably best known for Proposition 227, a successful 1998 initiative that sought to ban bilingual education in California. He promoted his minimum-wage ballot initiative as a way of freeing the working poor from reliance on government aid while also stimulating the economy. Last November, Unz told KQED’s Scott Shafer:

What we have right now is a crazy system where employers pay their workers so low wages that the taxpayers wind up providing billions of dollars of social-welfare subsidies for those same workers — food stamps, housing, earned-income tax credit, all those sorts of things. Now, under a logical system of free-market capitalism, employers should pay their own workers instead of forcing the taxpayers to pay them instead. What we have is a system in which employers have privatized the benefits of their workers — they get all the labor — while they’ve socialized many of the costs, forcing the taxpayers to cover the living costs of their own workers, which is ridiculous.

• Category: California, Campaign • Tags: Dan Brekke