Bernie Goldsmith, who has been spearheading the drive to put a $15 an hour minimum wage on the ballot for November, spoke before council and conceded that it will be a tall order for them to gain the 7000-signature threshold by May 1.
“It’s our hope to collect 7000 signatures by May 1. It’s looking increasingly unlikely that we’re going to make that deadline,” Bernie Goldsmith acknowledged to council. “Our efforts started around a kitchen table on January 11; since then, we’ve made a bit of a splash locally.”
“It is our hope to raise the minimum wage in Davis to a living wage,” he said. “I’m sure that many of you have read the Enterprise and it has had some opinions about our efforts. The Chamber of Commerce and local businesses have had some opinions about our attempts to engage the community.”
He and one of his organizers, Haley, spoke about their efforts to engage the community in discussion at this point at time. He said, “It was my hope that bringing Haley here as an example of how we’re engaging the community would sort of demonstrate that we are doing so by talking to thousands of citizens in Davis every day and letting them know what we’re up to and teaching them that the minimum wage in Davis is just $8 an hour.”
“One of the goals of this campaign was to start a public debate on what it would mean in this town to say as a moral proposition that no one who works full-time here should have to live in poverty,” he continued. “To contribute to this discussion, we’ve discussed engaging several academics, economists to produce a report on what a $15 minimum wage would look like to the economy of Davis, to the everyday worker of Davis, to the businesses of Davis. What the impacts would be.”
“We’re in the process of commissioning that study,” he said. “I’m here to invite this council. I’m here to invite the Chamber of Commerce. I’m here to invite all members of the community to submit questions that they would like studied by these academic experts if they are nervous about what it means to have a livable wage in this town.”
“If they have specific business models that need to be analyzed, we invite that discussion to start,” he said. He noted that there has been discussion about the organizers asking the city to conduct a study early. He argued, “I think the discussion should have started years ago. I definitely invite the city to consider studying the impact of a living wage early.”
“I have a specific request,” he continued. “To foster the civic engagement that some have apparently not had sufficient access to, apparently they haven’t gone to a grocery store in the last two weeks, I’m asking the city for a simple thing. I’d like an inbox somewhere, possessed by a staff member, where the Chamber of Commerce might be able to submit their ideas about how this would impact our economy, where academic experts could drop their studies, where the public can weigh in, in a single place.”
He ran out of time but reiterated that when it comes time for a discussion to take place, he hopes we have the resources there to have it.
Later in public, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kemble Pope responded, “I would be remiss if I didn’t respond to Bernie’s comments earlier. I’ve been to the grocery store probably 15 or 20 times since February 11, and I go to three different grocery stores and I’ve never actually seen anyone with a petition there.”
“Our main problem is that it’s been more of a monologue, not a dialogue,” he stated. “We’ve invited the Raise the Wage folks to come in and speak with our government relations committee, and ask them for some information, I have yet to get that information, but we look forward to talking with them this Thursday and hope that the community at large can have a more robust conversation.”
“I know that a lot of our members have been sharing their concerns with you and I hope that anyone in the community who has concerns will reach out,” he concluded.
The Enterprise this weekend in an editorial argues that “Davis businesses should not be saddled with a $15 minimum wage,” and that “good intentions don’t fund the payroll.”
The Enterprise notes, “If it lands on the June ballot, and gets approved by Davis voters, the measure would set the minimum wage at $11 an hour in January 2015, $13 in July 2015 and $15 at the start of 2016. At that point, the minimum wage would be 50 percent higher than the state rate of $10, with further increases linked to inflation.”
The Enterprise concludes their article by noting, “Oh, and while we’re at it: We oppose a city-by-city approach to the minimum wage. The state is the appropriate place for this change to occur.”
According to the organizers of Raise the Wage Davis, the Enterprise Editorial Board wrote this editorial having never invited the group to meet with them to get their perspective on the issue.
—David M. Greenwald reporting