City officials with the California town of Anaheim blasted failed Democrat presidential candidate and socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders this Saturday after he rallied with Disneyland workers to demand higher wages for them.
“While touting himself as a friend of the working man, Bernie has come all this way to support a measure that will result in thousands of lost jobs for the people of Anaheim,” Todd Ament, the CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, reportedly said in a written statement.
Sponsored by a coalition of local unions, the November ballot measure referenced by Ament would force Disney and other large employers that accept “subsidies” from Anaheim to pay their employees a minimum of $15 an hour starting in 2019. They would then be required to raise their minimum wage by $1 per year until 2022.
Sanders made it clear during a speech at Saturday’s rally that he fervently supports this initiative: “The struggle that you are waging here in Anaheim is not just for you. It is a struggle for millions of workers all across this country who are sick and tired of working longer hours for lower wages,” he said.
But Ament had a valid point about the “thousands of lost jobs” the measure could and would most likely precipitate.
The casual dining franchise Red Robin laid off hundreds of workers earlier this year in response to minimum wage hikes in localities across the country. Three years ago the coffeehouse chain Dunkin’ Donuts likewise began shuttering 100 locations because of minimum wage increases.
Even billionaire entrepreneur Bill Gates has repeatedly warned of the risks inherent in capriciously raising wages during an appearance four years ago on “Morning Joe.”
“You have to be a bit careful that if you raise the minimum wage, you’re encouraging labor substitution. You’re going to go buying machines and automate things — or cause jobs to appear outside of that jurisdiction. And so within certain limits, you know, it does cause job destruction,” he said.
What does admittedly make the situation in Anaheim slightly different are the subsidies. The Orange County Register notes that two years ago the Anaheim City Council granted $550 million in subsidies to the Walt Disney Co. and the Wincome Group to construct three hotels.
Since Disney is clearly benefiting from taxpayer money, some Disney workers believe the corporation should therefore pay it forward for its employees.
“[I]f taxpayers are going to subsidize a large corporation, then that corporation should pay a living wage and not contribute to poverty,” Christopher Duarte, the president and chief executive of Disneyland’s largest union, said.
That’s not a bad point. But is using government to force Disneyland to pay “a living wage” really the right path forward? Many, including Anaheim councilwoman Kris Murray, say no.
“Government has not been successful in mandating wages, government has not been successful in mandating how people live. I don’t see this as a solution,” she argued.
Also a good point!
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