Polling Shows Strong Support for Minimum Wage Hike in Sacramento

Minimum Wage proponents gathered last spring outside of Davis Target
Minimum Wage proponents gathered last spring outside of Davis Target

Already gearing up for a minimum wage ballot ordinance in Sacramento and Davis, the proponents of the ordinance, including the Central Labor Council which is backing a potential measure next year, believe they now have critical evidence of strong community support.

Sacramento Business Journal reported on Tuesday that a poll, commissioned by the same groups pushing the minimum wage hike locally, shows strong support for a wage hike to $13.50 an hour and even solid support for the $15 an hour that groups favor and cities like Seattle have already imposed.

According to the article, the San Francisco polling firm, David Binder Research, that has conducted a number of polls locally, found that in their survey of 500 Sacramento voters, “70 percent of Sacramento voters would support a measure to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13.50 an hour. And 58 percent of voters said they would approve raising Sacramento’s wage floor to $15 an hour over three years.”

The article notes, “Local labor officials, who did not pay for the survey, say they are encouraged by the results. They want the Sacramento City Council to enact a first-of-its-kind minimum wage law for the city this year. If a local law is not adopted, the unions say they will push for a voter initiative on the fall 2016 ballot.”

They write, “David Binder Research has conducted polls on other hot-button issues in Sacramento like a downtown arena and strong mayor initiative. The survey was commissioned by Organize Sacramento, a community-organizing group, and the faith-based Area Congregations Together and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.”

The poll was conducted from March 24 through March 29, and had a 4.4 percent margin of error. The poll asked voters whether they would support a measure that would “require employers to pay a minimum wage of $15 for work performed in the city of Sacramento” and adjusted for inflation thereafter.

If the respondent said they would not support a $15 an hour wage, they were asked if they would support an increase to $13.50, to which 70 percent supported and 25 percent opposed.

While the nature of the poll suggests skepticism about the magnitude of the support for a wage hike, polling has consistently showed nationally that voters strongly support minimum wage increases.  For example, a March 2014 PEW Poll found 73 percent of all Americans supported a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10.

The Business Journal noted that other polling showed the business community is overwhelmingly opposed to a minimum wage increases. This was according to surveys by the Sacramento Metro Chamber and the Downtown Sacramento Partnership.

Back in February, the Business Journal talked to Bobby Coyote of Davis-based Dos Coyotes, who told them that “a new wage law in Sacramento would compound rising expenses around health care and workers’ compensation, he said, forcing restaurants to raise prices on consumers while cutting server jobs. These changes would diminish the dining experience and could lead to less people eating out, he said.”

“We need to keep things balanced,” Mr. Coyote said. “He emphasized his belief that all workers should receive ‘fair wages’ but said he hopes city leaders consider the implications.”

The issue of a $15 minimum wage was raised by local groups last spring, but ultimately shelved due to lack of clear community support.

Outgoing executive secretary of the Sacramento Central Labor Council Bill Camp revived the prospect last December.

The state came close in June to passing a $13 an hour minimum wage, only to have it die unexpectedly in the Assembly labor committee.

Senate Bill 935, authored by Senator Mark Leno, would have raised the minimum wage in three steps, starting at $11 an hour in 2015 and increasing an additional $1 per hour in both 2016 and 2017. Beginning in 2018, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually to the rate of inflation. SB 935 was co-sponsored by the Women’s Foundation of California and SEIU (Service Employees International Union) California State Council.

“Increasing the minimum wage is critically important to millions of hard-working Californians and their families who live in poverty and are forced to rely on the state’s social safety net programs despite being employed full time,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco who sponsored the legislation along with Assemblymember Luis Alejo. “By giving low-income workers the pay and respect they deserve, we will also address the growing inequality within our communities, which is a roadblock to economic recovery and a drain on already limited taxpayer resources.”

Mr. Camp told the journal that they would attempt to gather signatures to qualify for the ballots of Sacramento and Davis.

The law would contain three provisions. First, it would be phased in to avoid disrupting local economies. Second, “No population could be excluded from earning $15, including youth and nonprofits.” Third, “The new minimum wage would include an automatic cost-of-living increase.”

Earlier this year, an effort spearheaded by a group called Raise the Wage Davis fell short of putting a similar $15 per hour minimum wage on the ballot for this November’s ballot.

In April, the group conceded that they would fall short.

“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 in April.  “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.”

“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.”

The proposal generated immediate pushback from the Davis Enterprise as well as some in the business community.

In an editorial, the Enterprise argued that “Davis businesses should not be saddled with a $15 minimum wage,” and that “good intentions don’t fund the payroll.”

The Enterprise noted, “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 did note, “We oppose a city-by-city approach to the minimum wage. The state is the appropriate place for this change to occur.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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51 thoughts on “Polling Shows Strong Support for Minimum Wage Hike in Sacramento”

  1. Don Shor

    Whenever you publish an article about  a poll, you should link to the poll itself so people can assess the methodology and validity of the results.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      If I had a link to the poll, I wouldn’t have cited the Biz Journal. And yes, I’m skeptical of the magnitude of their results.

  2. Sam

    The City of Oakland increased their minimum wage to $12.25 per hour in March. Restaurants raised their prices and laid off or cut the hours of employees to compensate. So while a small number of people are making more, some people are making the same but working less while others are now unemployed.
    One of the biggest issues now in Oakland is the working poor who use subsidized childcare. Those providers like the Salvation Army are unable to increase fees to compensate for the 36% increase in wages and will have to decrease the number of people they can help. Without childcare those people will be unable to work at all, plus the childcare workers will be unemployed.

    1. Barack Palin

      I don’t think people think things through when they’re asked in a phone poll if $15/hour sounds good.  On the face of it they say yes because it does sound good, but they don’t realize the underlying problems of raising wages that much will cause.

      It would be nice to see the actual wording of the phone poll questions.  I’ve taken a few phone polls that were designed to lead you in a certain direction.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      I”m skeptical of assessing the impact by how businesses immediately react – I suspect they will almost always immediately overreact and then adjust over time.

      1. Frankly

        The problem with this approach is that it fails to control for what is and what could have been.  For example, we have more under-employed workers than we ever had.  I think you and others that support this and other top-down regulatory hits to business count on the complaining to die down and everyone gets used to the new normal.  That always happens even when the change is helpful to business… reset to a new normal.  The only valid determination of good or bad change needs to include the comparison of what it to what it could have been.

        Frankly, (because I am) people that support big minimum wage hikes appear to me to be pretty uncaring about young people and people with limited job skills.

        1. Davis Progressive

          you can’t really study what could have been because it’s projections and assumptions.

          from my perspective, people like you are pretty uncaring about people who need to make a living on minimum wage.  but to each their own.

        2. Topcat

          Frankly, (because I am) people that support big minimum wage hikes appear to me to be pretty uncaring about young people and people with limited job skills.

          Yes. As I have pointed out before, a drastic minimum wage hike is most harmful to the least skilled and most disadvantaged people in society. Advocates for these increases never talk about what will happen to those lower skilled people who would like to work, perhaps at a pert time position, but can’t because they are priced out of the market.  I guess that they figure those people just don’t matter and that they can go on government assistance, or do something in the underground or criminal world to get by.

        3. Tia Will

          The problem with this approach is that it fails to control for what is and what could have been”

          I agree with this statement as it sits. However, Frankly fails to point out that this equally applies to the decisions made by businessmen.

          1) What is, is that many workers now in minimum wage jobs are supporting themselves and sometimes others, often by working two or more jobs. The idea that every low wage worker is a teen with fully family support is inaccurate. What the business community does not seem to acknowledge, is that if they voluntarily paid a living wage, there would be no pressure to raise wages by law.

          2) The statement that businesses will raise their prices while doubtless true will often not be necessary for their success as a business and is a voluntary, not obligatory act. Mr. Coyote has been extremely successful in his business development and eloquently puts forth the business perspective. However, what he does not state is why there is a need for such laws to begin with. What would be very refreshing would be for business owners such as Mr. Coyote to honestly publish the amount that they could pay workers and still make a profit. I frequently see estimates of what a “living wage” is based on in terms of housing costs, food and transportation costs. I have yet to see a real accounting for what would happen in terms of the actual wage that would force a business to close if they did not raise their prices. Or an honest accounting of how much they would have to raise their prices per item to pay their workers a living wage.

          I agree with Mr. Coyote that there should be “a balance”. Right now, I see the balance as so far in favor of business over employees as to make current wage exploitive of those who are forced to work for less than they need to live. Perhaps if this part of the equation were in balance, no one would be attempting for force an increase on businesses.

        4. Barack Palin

          Let’s take Mr. Coyote as an example.  Let’s say for arguments sake that he makes $200,00/year off of his two Davis restaurants.  Let’s go further and say that if he gave all his workers $15/hour that would lower his yearly profit down to $50,000.  Now since he’s still making a profit do you believe he should have to give his workers that raise?  What do you consider a fair profit for business owners?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The problem is that you’re assuming that raising the hourly rates by at most 50% is going to reduce his profit by three-quarters. That also assumes that there is no adjustment to counter-act the wage increases. And it further assumes that the wage increases will not increase business.

        5. Barack Palin

          That’s why I put forth the hypothetical numbers.

          But who is to say that raising minimum wage is going to increase his business, it might have the opposite effect as more people will be out of work so it will reduce his business.

          Raising wages 50% could very well lower profits 75%, you or I don’t know the numbers.  Once again just a hypothetical.

          And yes, he could raise prices, will that result in more revenue or would higher prices drive people away?


          1. David Greenwald Post author

            So if you are going to create a model – all of those are going to be taken into account and then it ends up producing a range of impacts.

        6. Frankly

          BP and David are hitting the key argument here.  David’s point only works if the business has price elasticity.  If the business can raise prices without impacting sales then it can support raising wages.

          But David demonstrates his unicorn-thinking here… and a lack of understanding about business and economics.  Either this or his ideological bent gets in the way of his reasoning.

          Because BP puts the challenge in succinct terms.

          I lend to small businesses.  Most of the owners of fast-food restaurants are taking home salaries of much less than $200,000.  Margins for just about every business have grown more thin over the years due to increased competition.  If you increase cost something else is going to have to change to allow many businesses to remain viable.  The price of products will go up in some cases.  In other cases there will be lay-offs and/or decreases in benefits for the remaining employees.  And those employees will be forced to do more work.  And because the job pays better, there will be more competition for the work from people with greater work qualifications… therefore younger people will have a harder time because they lack work experience.

          People pushing minimum wage hikes are either ignorant or uncaring of the negative consequences that will absolutely occur.

        7. Topcat

          People pushing minimum wage hikes are either ignorant or uncaring of the negative consequences that will absolutely occur.

          Yes, Frankly, you are exactly right. The people that will be hurt the most by a drastic increase in the minimum wage are the least skilled and most disadvantaged people.  This includes people with mild disabilities, people with criminal records, people with poor interpersonal skills, people with poor language skills, and young people with little or no previous work experience.  It would be in the best interest of society to have these people doing productive work and contributing to society.  The minimum wage tends to price these people out of the market, thus depriving them of the chance to work.  This is the point that the people that support a big increase in the minimum wage completely fail to understand.


    3. Topcat

      The City of Oakland increased their minimum wage to $12.25 per hour in March. Restaurants raised their prices and laid off or cut the hours of employees to compensate. So while a small number of people are making more, some people are making the same but working less while others are now unemployed.

      If we want employers to lay workers off and cut back hours, then perhaps a drastic rise in the minimum wage would be a good way to accomplish this.  We want to make sure that the least skilled and most disadvantaged people is society are unemployed.

  3. zaqzaq

    A city by city approach to the minimum wage would put Davis businesses at a disadvantage and increase the migration of shoppers to Dixon, Woodland and West Sacramento where they can find a Costco, Walmart, Home Depot, Best Buy, Ikea, … .  It would be interesting if a wage survey was conducted of local small businesses to see which businesses would be impacted directly.  It would also be interesting if there was some sort of analysis on the indirect impact on wages for those already making $15 an hour.  Would those wages also have to go up to attract talent and how this would impact the ability of small businesses in Davis to compete with those in Dixon, Woodland and West Sacramento.  Many consumers may find driving to one of these cities more attractive if the product costs less and they do not have to deal with downtown parking.  Our family already makes regular Costco trips to Costco.

  4. Barack Palin

    I always tip well, 15 to 20% depending on the service.  I tip well because I realize that the servers are making @ $9 an hour and need the tips.  If servers were to make $15/hour my tips will go way down because I’ll feel they no longer need as much money and add to that the price of my meal will most likely go up do to the restaurant’s extra costs.  I wonder if the servers have thought this through as I’ll bet they make much more off their tips than they do off their hourly pay.

      1. Barack Palin

        From my experience the tips are divied out amongst all the workers.  I’m not saying dollar for dollar but the tips do trickle down.  If the wages go up the bulk of my tipping will end.  I think it will be a net effect of a loss for waiters.

        In Europe you’re not supposed to tip, if you do it’s just a round up to the nearest 5 Euro increment.  So a bill of 43 Euros would round up to 45.

    1. Tia Will


      I understand that some people will make the choice you have stated. I think it is important to realize that others, such as myself, will not make this decision and will continue to tip according to service received. I do not pretend to know the individual economic circumstances of the individual providing my service. I do know whether I have received good service or not, and that is what I reward. Frankly, I don’t care if this is a student supported by parents, or one accruing huge student loans, or a mother supporting two children. If they have provided me with service, I will provide them a reward for having done so.

      1. Barack Palin

        That’s your prerogative, you can tip whatever you want.  But since you brought up that you don’t know their situation, the same goes for you also don’t know the situation of the customer.  What if the customer is ” one accruing huge student loans, or a mother supporting two children” as you stated.  Now they’re looking at higher food costs due to the restaurant having to raise prices in order to cover wage hikes.  Should they also tip as they used to knowing that servers are now making a living wage?

    1. Tia Will

      Tyranny of the uninformed majority encouraged by the elite minority that should know better but put heir ideology above facts and math.”

      I would have phrased this differently

      Tyranny of those who have wealth over those who have to work two or three jobs to support themselves and dependents. How about a consideration of the “facts and math” regarding how much is needed to support oneself and one’s family working forty hours a week. It would seem to me that those “facts and math” are alluding the businesses that oppose a living wage. if these numbers were taken into account and adhered to voluntarily there would be no need for a legal “tyranny”.

  5. Alan Miller

    The minimum wage should be abolished.

    SF & Oak already showing what happens:  a few businesses close, a few people are laid off, those businesses remaining may raise prices a little or have less employees, those employees remaining make the higher wage.  And with yet higher wages the spiral continues.

    The laws of economics are as real as the laws of physics.

      1. Barack Palin

        Yes, this ridiculous minimum wage hike will always ensure that there will be more potential workers than there are spots.

        Please tell us how businesses are going to deal with the current $15/hour worker now saying “hey, if they’re going to get $15/hour and I’m more qualified I want $20/hour, leading to the $20/hour guy asking for $25, and so on and so on…….

        I don’t think you and your ilk have really thought this out.


        1. hpierce

          Some folk also haven’t figured out that the employers had increased costs, based on wages, for SS, and probably SDI.  “Tips”, to my knowledge are un- or underreported, so little/no Fed, State, or SS taxes are paid on that source of income.  By raising minimum wage, we could eliminate ‘tips’, fully recover the taxes due, which we could then use to support those laid off/reduced hours due to the increase in the minimum wage.

          I think the case has been made that it should be a State-wide, rather than local decision, as there would be even more “unintended consequences”/”collateral damages”.

          And yes, I had, as a teen/young adult been either paid minimum wage, or had my food/board considered as part of my “pay” [so, actual pay was sub-minimum]. Did much better later.

      2. Topcat

        Please tell us how businesses are going to deal with the current $15/hour worker now saying “hey, if they’re going to get $15/hour and I’m more qualified I want $20/hour, leading to the $20/hour guy asking for $25, and so on and so on…….

        If the business can move out of Davis, perhaps to Woodland, West Sacramento, or Dixon that might be one way to deal with it.  Another way would be to close down the business and let all the employees go.  Another possibility would be to raise prices, thus driving away customers so that the business can get by with fewer employees. Another option in some businesses is to move to a more self service mode of operation (like the self checkout lines in some retail stores) so that the business could get by with less employees.

        And remember, it’s not just businesses that use lower paid, less skilled employees.  Non-profits, social service organizations and even governments use these types of employees, so we could see less opportunities in these areas too.

    1. Topcat

      The laws of economics are as real as the laws of physics.

      And there are a lot of people who don’t understand the laws of economics since the educational system does such a poor job in this area.

    1. Davis Progressive

      except for one thing don – they didn’t close.  that’s unlike you to make such a mistake.  instead they created a new business model and their customers stepped up to keep them open.

  6. tribeUSA

    Seems to me a more modest increase in the minimum wage to $11-$12 (pegged to inflation for future years) might be a good compromise and better for everyone in the long run, particularly small businesses.

    Here’s my logic: the megachain big businesses can better weather a $15/hr minimum wage than can small mom & pop businesses, particularly retail businesses. As smaller businesses begin to go broke or otherwise close down, there will likely then, a few years down the road, be a proposal to drastically reduce or  repeal the minimum wage altogether (with the reason being the loss of small non-chain businesses). By the time such legislation gets passed, it will be too late; most of the mom & pop’s will be gone. And the mega-chains will step in to further consolidate market share, with the added  benefit of minimum wages likely being even lower (in real dollar terms) than today, if not repealed altogether.

    Why do we lurch from one extreme to the other? A minimum wage increase to $11-$12 dollars per hour is a substantial increase (20-40%) from todays minimum wage in most communities, and is a modest enough increase to not have a large deleterious effect on small businesses.

  7. Tia Will

    Or we as a society could guarantee a living to all of our citizens who are following the laws and making a contribution of any kind to society thus ending the endless adversarial nature of employers continuing to want to pay less and employees asking for more. If people had a baseline security and had to work outside their homes only for additional things or experiences they want to have I sincerely doubt that we would see the collapse of our society. What I believe that we would see is people contributing according to their individual skills and interests in a collaborative rather than adversarial manner.

    There is nothing at all in “the laws of economics” that says that a society must be based on each individual trying to acquire as much as they can. This is a definition of success that we have deliberately chosen in this country. It is not a “law” of human behavior although we choose to act as though it is.

  8. Alan Miller

     . . . we as a society could guarantee a living to all of our citizens . . .

    Are you suggesting using one of the successful world models of communism?

    1. Tia Will

      No, but then I do not believe that any country has ever even attempted to institute a truly communist model except in name only. Because something has not been done in the past does not mean that it is impossible, only that it has not yet been achieved.

      The list of never happened before, but now is possible now, in any sphere of human endeavor you care to name is very, very long. We only like to pretend that we “cannot” form a more just and equitable society since so many of us are very satisfied with what we have now and like to place 100 % of the blame on those who have not succeeded in our ruthless, winner take all version of capitalism.

        1. Topcat

          how do we go from minimum wage to communism

          Discussing minimum wage is pretty boring so the conversation tends to wander off into a Marxist utopian fantasy 😉

  9. Topcat

    Or we as a society could guarantee a living to all of our citizens…

    Until that Utopia comes to pass, perhaps we can discuss how a drastic raise in the minimum wage hurts the least skilled and most vulnerable people in society by depriving them of opportunity.

  10. hpierce

    “Guarantee a living“… need some definition of terms… have heard of a lot of people living below the ‘poverty line’, but can’t recall hearing of anyone who has died of ‘poverty’ (homelessness isn’t going to be affected by “minimum wage” considerations).  What do we “guarantee” as a standard of living?  To me, housing from the elements, basic nutritional needs clean water, basic medical care, educational opportunities up to at least JC, those are obvious.  Owning one’s own home, having a TV, high-speed internet (or a computer) may not be… for those who would advocate for a higher minimum “standard of living”, what would that look like?  And for how many?  Should everyone have a base-line standard of living that includes the ability to pro-create as freely as they wish, and make sure all their progeny have the same baseline?  Meant as honest questions.


      1. hpierce

        Thank you… my quick calcs show that assumes ~ 1800 hours of work/yr to get there.

        That partly answers my questions, but am still looking for others to fully articulate whether that “budget” is enough for their ‘social justice’ view.  Particularly if someone can’t work 1800 hours/year.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            i thought Bernie Goldsmith and his group were pushing the $15/hr locally?

        1. Tia Will


          I will take a stab at answering your question from my clearly outlier “social justice” point of view.

          I think as an extremely wealthy society we have the opportunity to create a society where people are not only not at risk of “dying from poverty” but in which they are able to live without the fear that a set back will leave them homeless ( when they do not choose to be) or will leave them wondering where their next meal will come from or how they will get medical care for their child.

          I agree with your “ housing from the elements, basic nutritional needs clean water, basic medical care, educational opportunities ”  is what our society should be willing to provide for every man, woman, and child. And yes, unless you are willing to go down the road of forced abortion or forced sterilization that would of course mean that we would have to provide for all children. After all, it is not the fault of the child that their parents have not exercised planning or restraint. However, I do not think that this would be such a problem if we were to provide free long lasting reversible contraception to anyone who wanted. In my view, luxuries beyond this would require additional hours of “work”.

          Now here however, is a major rub. Most people put in many, many hours of “work” that is not considered by our society as worthy of other than lip service. The stay at home mother may put in far more hours of work than her work outside the home spouse, and yet if the spouse leaves or dies, she may be economically forced from her home, now have to pay for outside child care ( of poorer quality than she was providing as a stay at home mom), may no longer be able to home school her children if that was her choice, and may have to accept work at a minimum wage since her familial plan was for her husband to support her, but that didn’t work out.

          Grandparents who essentially raise children so that both parents can work get no compensation for this vital service to our society.

          Students, who are doing exactly what the society asks of them by staying in school, pay for the privilege of going to even our “public schools” which they are being priced out of.

          To me, our society has it exactly backwards. People should not have to pay for their education, they should be compensated for staying in school and gaining a better chance at making a more valuable contribution to the society. Everyone who is doing a necessary service for the society whether child care, elder care, care of dependents ( including those who truly cannot put in the hours) regardless of social relationship should be compensated for their work at a living wage as you have defined.

          Using your 1800 hours a year, there would still be plenty of time left over for those who wanted to acquire more material goods to put in additional hours in order to earn more. Thus we would not lose the “material incentive” factor that some believe is essential to the functioning of the economy, a view I do not share.

        2. Topcat

          Everyone who is doing a necessary service for the society … should be compensated for their work at a living wage as you have defined.

          I hope that you realize that this Utopian collectivist vision has no chance of happening on a large scale in the US?

  11. Tia Will

    I hope that you realize that this Utopian collectivist vision has no chance of happening on a large scale in the US?”

    And, democracy on a large scale had no chance of succeeding until the citizens of the United States had enough vision to make it a reality. I am well aware that what you are calling my “Utopian collectivist” vision has no chance at all in my lifetime. That does not mean that I will not continue to advocate for humane treatment of our entire population by whatever name you would like to call it.

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