Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Good uses of the ballot box

San Francisco will be voting in November on an increase over three years to a $15 an hour minimum wage, to be indexed to inflation thereafter. The measure is Prop. J.

The UC Berkeley Labor Center has looked at who wins and who loses (damn few!) in a new study. Some findings:

  • 26 percent of female workers and 21 percent of male workers would receive pay increases.
  • 97 percent of affected workers are in their twenties or older, and 63 percent of the workers receiving raises are in their thirties or older.
  • Workers of color (black, Hispanic, Asian and other) make up about 54 percent of the total workforce in San Francisco, but represent about 71 percent of workers affected by the proposed minimum wage increase.
  • The affected workers have a wide range of educational backgrounds—59 percent have at least some college and 26 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Restaurant prices would increase by 2.7 percent by the time the law is fully implemented. A $10 meal would increase by 27 cents, to a total of $10.27. For retail and the local economy as a whole, price increases would be negligible.

Though the restaurant and retail industries will likely mount a campaign against this increase, these are hard to win. The people who vote, in general, do not make the minimum wage. They are much better off -- and they are well aware of how hard it is to get by in San Francisco on what they make, so they tend to be open to the idea of doing a little something for the less fortunate. There are a lot more of these voters than restaurant owners, fortunately.

Also on the November ballot, San Franciscans will be voting on a real estate transfer tax, Prop G. San Francisco property is in high demand, rapidly increasing in value. If current homeowners decide to cash out, that's their right. But this measure would put a 24 percent transfer tax on the sale price of a unit flipped to a new owner within a year of purchase. Take that, speculators!

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