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

America's Most Important Minimum-Wage Campaign Way Ahead in Polls, But Lacks Funding

A ballot initiative proposal in CA is in in trouble, even though it might win in a landslide.

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The country’s most important effort to raise the minimum wage—in California to $12 a hour via a statewide ballot initiative—is in trouble because a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who launched the effort says that he cannot afford to spend $2 million to hire petition circulators and politically active unions so far have not offered to help fill the gap.

“I don’t have anything against unions and I’d been looking forward to working closely with them on this campaign,” he said. “But obviously there’s no campaign at all unless I can somehow raise the funding to get the initiative on the ballot.”

California has many politically active unions that are logical backers for a statewide ballot measure that arguably is the nation’s most far-reaching minimum wage increase proposal. President Obama has proposed raising the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, but congressional Republicans have balked. In contrast, the California measure, which Unz said was ahead in recent polls by 27 percent, is likely to pass if it is on the fall ballot. The state’s minimum wage is now $8 an hour and rises to $10 an hour in 2016.

Unz, a Republican, has received a great deal of media attention, including from GOP-friendly venues, where he has been somewhat successful in changing the minds of long-time opponents based on conservative arguments such as lessening government subsidies to underpaid workers and bolstering working people’s economic independence.

Unz said he was placing an ad in Silicon Valley’s daily newspaper on Wednesday to explain the situation and ask others to help. “Reports of my personal wealth have been exaggerated, and I don’t have the money to fund the signature drive necessary to place the initiative on the ballot,” it says. “But Silicon Valley has other people who do.”

• Category: Campaign, Notable • Tags: Steven Rosenfeld