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Want to vote on raising California's minimum wage? Judge says not until 2024

Aibol Kubayev, left, an employee at Foothill College's bookstore, helps Shane Stephens, a student at Foothill College, with a question at the Los Altos Hills campus on Jan. 21, 2020. Photo by Sammy Dallal.

Californians still won't get a chance to vote on a minimum wage hike this November, after a judge ruled late Friday that the campaign was at fault for missing a key deadline to get the measure on the ballot.

Proponents, including investor and anti-poverty advocate Joe Sanberg, went to court to try to force Secretary of State Shirley Weber's office to place the initiative onto this November's ballot. If approved by voters, it would raise the state minimum wage to $16 an hour next year and $18 by 2025.

But Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles ruled that Weber acted properly in enforcing a June 30 deadline for counties to verify signatures for this November's ballot.

The minimum wage campaign argued that Weber's office confused county election officials because she told them they had until July 13 to finish the count, based on the requirement that counties get 30 working days for signature verification after campaigns turn in their petitions.

Proponents collected 1 million signatures, but didn't turn in signatures until May, Weber's office said, making them late to start the clock. By the June 30 deadline to qualify for this November's ballot, several counties had not finished verifying signatures and the campaign fell short. Seven other propositions did make the ballot this November.

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The minimum wage measure has since been cleared for the November 2024 ballot, after county elections offices finished verifying enough signatures this month.

Business groups have opposed the measure. On Thursday, an attorney representing the California Restaurant Association and the California Business Roundtable wrote Arguelles objecting to the effort to put the measure on this November's ballot because it would force them to "hastily commence a campaign against the initiative."

"Our television airwaves are already seeing campaign ads for and against initiative measures that have properly qualified for the ballot," the attorney, Thomas Hiltachk, wrote. "While petitioner, using his personal fortune, might be able to ramp up a campaign, opponents of this initiative will have an impossible challenge in front of them."

Arguelles is the same judge who extended the signature-gathering deadline by four months during the pandemic in 2020 for proponents of recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom, giving them enough time to trigger last year's unsuccessful election.

But in this case, Arguelles refused to give proponents two more weeks. In a tentative ruling before a court hearing, he wrote that the minimum wage proponents' argument that the pandemic slowed down their signature-gathering efforts was "unpersuasive." The judge also agreed with Weber's office that putting a new initiative on the ballot now would "interfere substantially" with conducting the upcoming election.

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"The burden was on Sanberg (and all others proposing statutory initiatives) to conform to the June 30 deadline if he wished to place the initiative on the November 2022 ballot," Arguelles wrote. "Sanberg's failure to do so did not somehow reallocate the burden to Weber."

In a statement after the ruling, Sanberg and other proponents slammed the judge's decision as a "gross double standard," saying that while Arguelles "saw fit to offer right-wing extremists" more time "to recall our governor, he declined to give voters an opportunity to pass a measure that would lift working people out of poverty."

Proponents called on Weber to put the measure on the ballot voluntarily, asked for Gov. Gavin Newsom's support and vowed to go to the Legislature when it reconvenes Aug. 1, though it's too late for lawmakers to put a measure on the November ballot.

"Workers cannot wait another two years for a raise," they said.

Sanberg announced the proposition campaign last December and poured $10 million into signature-gathering. He said the campaign did the best it could to gather signatures quickly during the pandemic. Last week, he and other proponents sued to force it onto this year's ballot, arguing a vote in two years would come too late to make the measure's wage hikes to $16 next year and $17 in 2024 go into effect.

Under an inflation-triggered provision in state law, California's minimum wage, already the nation's highest, is scheduled to rise in January to $15.50 from $15 for most businesses and $14 for smaller employers.

Given that about a third of California's private-sector employees are covered by dozens of local minimum wage ordinances that are higher than the state's, the measure would result in raises for about five million workers, a UC Berkeley economist has found.

"We here are trying to prevent catastrophic injury to over five million Californians in the form of two years of lost wages," Sanberg told CalMatters Thursday. "Over a million Californians signed the petition. Our objective is implementing the will of the people."

Weber's office has declined to comment on the litigation. In court filings, Weber said it was the campaign's fault for turning in signatures too late to give the counties enough time to verify signatures. "It was their own decision to begin the signature gathering process late in the game," attorneys for her office wrote.

At issue were what proponents called two "competing" deadlines enforced by Weber's office for counties to verify signatures.

To qualify a ballot measure for any election, counties get 30 business days to verify signatures after they're turned in. Based on when the minimum wage ballot proponents submitted their petitions, that deadline was July 13, Weber's office told the counties.

But to make it specifically onto this November's ballot, the cutoff to verify signatures was June 30 — a deadline also listed on the Secretary of State's public guide for ballot measure proponents. By that day, not enough counties had finished the verification process to put the campaign over the 685,534 signatures needed to qualify. That threshold was reached a week later after more counties turned in signature numbers.

In his suit, Sanberg accused Weber's office of confusing county officials by telling them the July 13 deadline and not the June 30 one. The campaign this week released a statement from San Mateo County's chief elections officer, Mark Church, that "there was a misunderstanding about the deadline for validating signatures."

The campaign was short of more than 77,000 verified signatures on the June 30 deadline, but the Secretary of State was missing reports from several larger counties, including San Mateo. If a few more counties had verified signatures in time, the measure would have qualified for this November.

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Email Jeanne Kuang at jeanne @calmatters.org.

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California's policies and politics. Read more state news from CalMatters here.

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Want to vote on raising California's minimum wage? Judge says not until 2024

by Jeanne Kuang / CalMatters

Uploaded: Sun, Jul 24, 2022, 9:14 am

Californians still won't get a chance to vote on a minimum wage hike this November, after a judge ruled late Friday that the campaign was at fault for missing a key deadline to get the measure on the ballot.

Proponents, including investor and anti-poverty advocate Joe Sanberg, went to court to try to force Secretary of State Shirley Weber's office to place the initiative onto this November's ballot. If approved by voters, it would raise the state minimum wage to $16 an hour next year and $18 by 2025.

But Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles ruled that Weber acted properly in enforcing a June 30 deadline for counties to verify signatures for this November's ballot.

The minimum wage campaign argued that Weber's office confused county election officials because she told them they had until July 13 to finish the count, based on the requirement that counties get 30 working days for signature verification after campaigns turn in their petitions.

Proponents collected 1 million signatures, but didn't turn in signatures until May, Weber's office said, making them late to start the clock. By the June 30 deadline to qualify for this November's ballot, several counties had not finished verifying signatures and the campaign fell short. Seven other propositions did make the ballot this November.

The minimum wage measure has since been cleared for the November 2024 ballot, after county elections offices finished verifying enough signatures this month.

Business groups have opposed the measure. On Thursday, an attorney representing the California Restaurant Association and the California Business Roundtable wrote Arguelles objecting to the effort to put the measure on this November's ballot because it would force them to "hastily commence a campaign against the initiative."

"Our television airwaves are already seeing campaign ads for and against initiative measures that have properly qualified for the ballot," the attorney, Thomas Hiltachk, wrote. "While petitioner, using his personal fortune, might be able to ramp up a campaign, opponents of this initiative will have an impossible challenge in front of them."

Arguelles is the same judge who extended the signature-gathering deadline by four months during the pandemic in 2020 for proponents of recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom, giving them enough time to trigger last year's unsuccessful election.

But in this case, Arguelles refused to give proponents two more weeks. In a tentative ruling before a court hearing, he wrote that the minimum wage proponents' argument that the pandemic slowed down their signature-gathering efforts was "unpersuasive." The judge also agreed with Weber's office that putting a new initiative on the ballot now would "interfere substantially" with conducting the upcoming election.

"The burden was on Sanberg (and all others proposing statutory initiatives) to conform to the June 30 deadline if he wished to place the initiative on the November 2022 ballot," Arguelles wrote. "Sanberg's failure to do so did not somehow reallocate the burden to Weber."

In a statement after the ruling, Sanberg and other proponents slammed the judge's decision as a "gross double standard," saying that while Arguelles "saw fit to offer right-wing extremists" more time "to recall our governor, he declined to give voters an opportunity to pass a measure that would lift working people out of poverty."

Proponents called on Weber to put the measure on the ballot voluntarily, asked for Gov. Gavin Newsom's support and vowed to go to the Legislature when it reconvenes Aug. 1, though it's too late for lawmakers to put a measure on the November ballot.

"Workers cannot wait another two years for a raise," they said.

Sanberg announced the proposition campaign last December and poured $10 million into signature-gathering. He said the campaign did the best it could to gather signatures quickly during the pandemic. Last week, he and other proponents sued to force it onto this year's ballot, arguing a vote in two years would come too late to make the measure's wage hikes to $16 next year and $17 in 2024 go into effect.

Under an inflation-triggered provision in state law, California's minimum wage, already the nation's highest, is scheduled to rise in January to $15.50 from $15 for most businesses and $14 for smaller employers.

Given that about a third of California's private-sector employees are covered by dozens of local minimum wage ordinances that are higher than the state's, the measure would result in raises for about five million workers, a UC Berkeley economist has found.

"We here are trying to prevent catastrophic injury to over five million Californians in the form of two years of lost wages," Sanberg told CalMatters Thursday. "Over a million Californians signed the petition. Our objective is implementing the will of the people."

Weber's office has declined to comment on the litigation. In court filings, Weber said it was the campaign's fault for turning in signatures too late to give the counties enough time to verify signatures. "It was their own decision to begin the signature gathering process late in the game," attorneys for her office wrote.

At issue were what proponents called two "competing" deadlines enforced by Weber's office for counties to verify signatures.

To qualify a ballot measure for any election, counties get 30 business days to verify signatures after they're turned in. Based on when the minimum wage ballot proponents submitted their petitions, that deadline was July 13, Weber's office told the counties.

But to make it specifically onto this November's ballot, the cutoff to verify signatures was June 30 — a deadline also listed on the Secretary of State's public guide for ballot measure proponents. By that day, not enough counties had finished the verification process to put the campaign over the 685,534 signatures needed to qualify. That threshold was reached a week later after more counties turned in signature numbers.

In his suit, Sanberg accused Weber's office of confusing county officials by telling them the July 13 deadline and not the June 30 one. The campaign this week released a statement from San Mateo County's chief elections officer, Mark Church, that "there was a misunderstanding about the deadline for validating signatures."

The campaign was short of more than 77,000 verified signatures on the June 30 deadline, but the Secretary of State was missing reports from several larger counties, including San Mateo. If a few more counties had verified signatures in time, the measure would have qualified for this November.

Email Jeanne Kuang at jeanne @calmatters.org.

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California's policies and politics.

Comments

Curious George
Registered user
another community
on Jul 24, 2022 at 9:49 am
Curious George, another community
Registered user
on Jul 24, 2022 at 9:49 am

The minimum wage should be raised to at least $20-25/per hour.

A reasonable living wage will help reduce poverty among working, low-wage earners.

Though wage increases also drive up inflation, the only other alternative is to lower wages AND the costs of goods/services.

Automobiles now cost more than some houses did 50 years ago, all due to inflation.


Me 2
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 25, 2022 at 10:26 am
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 25, 2022 at 10:26 am

"A reasonable living wage will help reduce poverty among working, low-wage earners"

Actually no. This will just exacerbate the inflationary pressures, causing prices to rise across the board. In real terms, it will be a wash or net negative among the working class.

"Automobiles now cost more than some houses did 50 years ago, all due to inflation."

In real terms, you're wrong.


Frieda Stein
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Jul 25, 2022 at 11:18 am
Frieda Stein, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Jul 25, 2022 at 11:18 am

The corporate officers making huge salaries should divert some of their pay towards increasing the wages of workers who are actually doing the work.

This in turn will keep consumer prices from inflating.


Julia Sutter
Registered user
Professorville
on Jul 25, 2022 at 2:09 pm
Julia Sutter, Professorville
Registered user
on Jul 25, 2022 at 2:09 pm

Increasing the minimum wage for restaurant workers wouldn't be necessary if countless diners weren't such cheapskates.

If you cannot afford or justify at least a 15-20% tip, cook your own food.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 25, 2022 at 8:22 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 25, 2022 at 8:22 pm

What a disgrace. The massive EDD fraud during a Pandemic, single moms and the poor having to stay home for online schooling of their children, loosing jobs, the State of Calif bureaucracy is behemoths to crisis. Pandemic government employees enjoyed CalPers and great medical benefits, paid time off including 14 days of paid COVID pay when sick ... and the poor have had to suffer a guillotine of loss and unforeseen pain. The anvil of the Pandemic has most affected the poor, single moms, the elderly and people of color. And now this?! Shame on California, shame on Newsome and his gruesomely slow state disfunction. What is absolutely needed for all Californians? A monthly Universal Basic Income . Alaska does it from BIG Petroleum. Surely CA can do this from Big Tech. I am sick at heart at the extreme and worsening marginalization and scapegoating problems onto the most vulnerable. Where are our true leaders for the poor? It’s the worst time in Calif. I have not witnessed since Reagan was Governor then his President era of take, take and take more from the poor. While our Military Industrial Complex is raking in 8.5 Billion a year from tax payers. Help Ukraine at the expense of punishing the poor in our State and country. It’s a cruel time. Everyone is mean and scared or hiding heads in sand. Paperwork foisted on the poor for low cost no cost goods is grueling and humiliating. A bit like NYC was in 1970’s until 9/11. Sad tragic California State of affairs. Get your big pants on Newsome. Show us in action u care, like it was yesterday. Does anyone else see a Russian Ruble economy on the heads of the slave labor force in Cali? Lines for bread is not far away. We’ve seen the extreme spike in milk, price bilking TP, gasoline — to diapers and tampons have gone up 30%. And have to grind and grovel for two more years for a general vote that likely will not pass. Like our State employed autocrats, wages a yearly “cost of living” increases. It’s coal for Cali X-Mas, again.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Jul 25, 2022 at 8:33 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Jul 25, 2022 at 8:33 pm

Raising minimum wage will hurt the poor more than anyone. They'll pay more for any service, food, etc. where employees make minimum wage. Prices will go up, and not everyone can afford that.

Unless you're a high school or college student, you shouldn't be making minimum wage. You have to have a certain level of job skills to make a decent living. If not, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Seeing middle aged adults working fast food, delivering papers, etc. is ridiculous. Give those jobs back to the kids.


Henrietta Walsh
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jul 26, 2022 at 7:55 am
Henrietta Walsh, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jul 26, 2022 at 7:55 am

Concurring with Native to the BAY…a CA Universal Base Income funded from high-tech & energy company profits would negate the need for higher minimum wages. About $75,000.00-$100,000.00 yearly per adult should suffice.

@Jennifer
As you mentioned, these minimum wage/entry level jobs should be targeting younger, less experienced workers but in the midpeninsula fast food jobs are generally filled by adult Hispanic workers with limited English-speaking skills and education.

Another consideration…many upper middle class white kids get good allowances (plus expensive clothing, Apple iPhones and late model cars) from their upscale parents which often discourages their interest in taking any form of entry level job paying minimum wage. When was the last time you saw some well-to-do white kid from Palo Alto, Los Altos, or Danville flipping burgers or filling tacos?


Greg Pfister
Registered user
Stanford
on Jul 26, 2022 at 1:19 pm
Greg Pfister, Stanford
Registered user
on Jul 26, 2022 at 1:19 pm

Most upper middle class kids don't want to work at menial jobs nowadays...they prefer to start at the top.

And the majority of them have never cut the lawn, washed windows, raked leaves, pulled weeds, or painted an exterior or interior of a house.

These chores are hired-out to the professionals who in turn hire minimum wage workers.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2022 at 1:40 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 26, 2022 at 1:40 pm

The world has gone crazy and things like this show why.

A 16 year old high school student should be the ones doing the minimum wage jobs, or at least college students. Back in the day, getting an after school job was a rite of passage as well as a life lesson. Flipping burgers, pumping gas, drugstore soda jerks, etc. were all respectable ways for teens to learn how to be a good employee and earn money for college or at least to spend on their own entertainment.

Why is this not happening today is a very good question. Why are people who have been in the workforce for 10 years or more still earning only minimum wage?

Why are we even asking these questions?


Hector M.
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jul 26, 2022 at 3:03 pm
Hector M., East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 26, 2022 at 3:03 pm

• "Why are people who have been in the workforce for 10 years or more still earning only minimum wage?"

@Bystander
I have been working in the fast food industry for over 18 years.

I started at minimum wage ($6.50/hour) in 2003. My boss (the owner) gave me a 5¢ per hour raise every year and promised me that over time, he would make me a franchise partner.

I have been an assistant manager for the past four years and whenever I ask about becoming a business partner, the owner says I must be a manager first.

I have worked under several new managers who had less work experience than me.

My wife tells me that I am being exploited and should look for another job but I have no experience in other professions and English is my second language.

We both work full-time and have three school aged children. Our combined income is about $50,000.00 a year.

There is never enough money but we manage to get by.

It is easy for some people to offer their suggestions because many of them have never worked at a low-paying job as adults along with having family responsibilities.


Rolf Kreuger
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2022 at 1:47 pm
Rolf Kreuger, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jul 27, 2022 at 1:47 pm

"My boss (the owner) gave me a 5¢ per hour raise every year and promised me that over time, he would make me a franchise partner."

The Bible reminded us to beware of false prophets.

Most employers are more concerned with profits than their workers.

I would seriously consider quitting your job as a fast food assistant manager.

You will never be made a partner...this is called 'dangling carrots'.


Carlyle Coulter
Registered user
another community
on Jul 28, 2022 at 7:48 am
Carlyle Coulter, another community
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2022 at 7:48 am

The businesses that cannot afford (or are unwilling) to pay their employees a reasonable living wage + healthcare & paid time off (sick leave/2 week minimum vacation/bereavement leave etc.) should simply close up shop and go away.

Employment exploitation is modern day slavery.


Sam Larson
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2022 at 9:06 am
Sam Larson, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 9:06 am

Are customers willing to pay $12.00 for a Big Mac or $7.50 for a simple bean burrito at Taco Bell?

If minimum wages increase beyond a certain point, so will the prices of the products being sold.

Dave Chappelle once joked that he is OK with Apple products being made by underpaid workers in China because if these were being produced in the United States, who would be willing to pay $9K for an iPhone?


Roberta Jensen
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 29, 2022 at 3:40 pm
Roberta Jensen, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 3:40 pm

> Are customers willing to pay $12.00 for a Big Mac or $7.50 for a simple bean burrito at Taco Bell?

The solution is simple...use robotics to prepare and disperse fast food.

Payment can easily be accomplished by the use of credit/debit/gift cards.

With this concept...minimum wages are now an issue of the past as operating costs will be drastically lowered.

A reasonable price for a 'specialty' mass-produced fast food meal (with drink) should be $5.00 or less.


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