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California, other states move to put minimum wage on the ballot

Increasing the minimum wage is the subject of heated debate among politicians. While much of this debate is along partisan lines, one prominent California Republican has gone against many Republican legislators on the issue – some of whom want to eliminate the concept. Meanwhile, a majority of Republican voters say they approve of raising the minimum wage.

Ron Unz is not only speaking out in favor of the state raising California’s minimum wage from $8 to $12 an hour, but he wants to take the issue to the voters in November. The one-time software mogul who once ran for governor of California is backing a referendum that would go the wage increase approved by Governor Jerry Brown one better. The law signed by Gov. Brown will raise the minimum wage to $10 by 2016. Unz’s plan would raise it to $10 in 2015 and up to $12 in 2016.

Unz says that raising the minimum wage makes good economic sense. He points out that taxpayers are in fact “subsidizing low-wage paying businesses” via food stamps and other government assistance programs that low-paid workers rely on to support their families. Further, increasing our minimum wage, he says, would not only lift millions of Californians out of poverty, but also be a boon to the state’s economy by allowing more people to afford goods they couldn’t have before.

With the recalcitrance of elected leaders on the subject, advocates in other states have also sought to take the issue directly to voters. Six states plus Washington, D.C., are working on ballot measures. So far, the states are having better luck than the federal government, where the minimum wage remains at $7.25 per hour, despite a proposal backed by President Obama to raise it to $10.10 to keep up with inflation. Thanks to new state laws and to regulations that link minimum wages to inflation, about a million and a half employees started earning more money per hour on Jan. 1.

Regardless of the legal minimum wage, there are always employers who intentionally or unintentionally pay their workers less. In some cases, they fail to pay overtime wages. Misclassification of wages can cost employees a substantial amount of money over time. Employment attorneys may help employees ensure that they are being paid fairly for their work, and help California employers ensure that they are abiding by our state’s wage and hour laws.

Source:, “Republican Millionaire Has A Compelling Case For A $12 Minimum Wage, And He’s Taking It Directly To California Voters” Alan Pyke, Jan. 13, 2014

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