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

Libertarian Ron Unz’s Effort to Raise California Minimum Wage Derailed by Lack of Funds

A go-it-alone campaign falters in a state with coalition politics.

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A California ballot measure campaign to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour is not going forward in 2014 because its primary proponent, Republican Silicon Valley businessman Ron Unz, could not raise the funds for a multi-million dollar campaign.

“After various ups and downs, it now seems unlikely that my $12 Minimum Wage initiative will reach the November ballot in California,” Unz said in an e-mail. “This will surely come as a surprise to many people, including myself.”

Unz explained that he could not raise the estimated $1.5 million needed to hire petition circulators to qualify the state ballot measure, which he said was ahead in polling by about 30 percent. He said that he had approached several unions as well as a wealthy Republican donor, but they declined—which surprised and disappointed him.

“During 2012, California’s major unions had spent well over $100 million on various initiative campaigns,” he said. “By contrast, just one percent of those same dollars would probably have been sufficient to achieve a $12 state minimum wage, thereby boosting worker paychecks by well over $10 billion per year, with union members annually receiving more than a billion of those dollars.”

• Category: Campaign • Tags: Steven Rosenfeld