I'd like to respectfully take issue with comments against Measure R by my employer, Dennis Rael, in his joint letter with Berit Meyer (Mailbox, Oct. 16).
"Fixed income" describes the minimum wage precisely, and I don't believe Measure R will harm me any. And neither should you.
Since the '70s, people on so-called "fixed income" have had the luxury of cost-of-living adjustments. No-collar workers have been afforded no such thing. Medicare premiums, by law, are prohibited from outpacing those cost-of-living increases. Again, something we don't have. And if it's your only income, it's not even taxed. I'm not trying to claim SSI is cushy, but it only got better because people got mad about what a ridiculous state it was in. Experts attribute the dramatic decrease in elderly poverty since that time to one thing: that source of income being indexed to inflation. Ensuring our wage gets adjusted to annual increases in the cost-of-living is a basic request, it can never come soon enough and it's the obvious cost of doing good and ethical business.
As for the nominal increase, restaurants can abolish tipping entirely and include fair compensation in their prices and in our wage. Contrary to the implication of the letter, it wouldn't be my "choice" or fault if a business left town. Businesses who've been "phasing it in" by voluntarily paying above the legal minimum over the years will have less difficulty, if any. Nonprofits can petition the state for higher reimbursement rates for their services after an ordinance like Measure R passes. They were granted this in San Jose. Or, if you're an organization working in state-funded care services, you can raise some hell about your own shamefully stagnant reimbursement rates. I will be right there with you. Citywide measures have been proven to spread, and to work.
Zack Thiesen, Eureka
Everyone who lives in Eureka contributes to making Eureka a desirable place to live and to be productive. People working for other people should be paid a living wage. It is fair. If businesses want to locate out in the county somewhere and build a business based on not paying labor a living wage, so be it. I doubt whether hardly anyone would, because the social amenities do not exist out there. I, for one, want the workers in the community that I help create to be paid a living wage.
People need the dignity to be supporting themselves through their daily labor, not from a government program. I want to see the social services budget cut. The less government, the better for all.
We need new money flowing into the local economy for new innovations and jobs.
It is unsightly how incomes and assets have shifted since 1973: downward for the lower incomes, stagnant or decreasing for most everyone else and, skyrocketing for the top 1 percent. For fairness and to have a healthy economy, this must change.
Eureka has a lot of problems. It would be disappointing to see voters reject any attempt to make things better in Eureka. Like any legislation, Measure R may not be perfect and, unknown and unfortunate things may happen. That's what we have a city council for, to make changes to make things work for the people of Eureka.
All in all, I think Measure R is a good step forward for the city of Eureka. Vote yes on Measure R.
Ed Musgrave, Eureka
Passing Measure R is necessary for workers to afford basic necessities.
$12/hour brings the minimum wage to approximately the level it was in the 1960s, when times were prosperous.
Since 2007, 70 percent of all jobs created have been low/minimum wage jobs. These are no longer student jobs. A quarter of these jobs are now filled by people trying to support families. The average age of a fast food worker is 29 years.
Only one in 10 businesses in Eureka have more than 25 employees and many are corporations that earn huge profits. The fast food industry takes more than $7 billion in public assistance provided for their 4 million workers. Taxpayers subsidize the fast food industry while corporations have profited $7.44 billion as well as $7.7 billion in stock buybacks and benefits for executives and investors.
I appreciate the Fair Wage Folks bringing this initiative to the ballot in Eureka.
Douglas Stock, Eureka
Your article on Measure R seemed biased, perhaps not unexpectedly so. Comparing the bustling airport town of SeaTac, Washington, in the Seattle metro-plex to chronically depressed, rural Eureka is disingenuous. Where was the comparison of rents in San Jose and San Francisco to Eureka in relation to minimum wage increases they have enacted?
Also lacking was discussion of the dual minimum wage scenario that would be created only in Eureka whereby some folks would receive $9/hr and others $12/hr for the same work. Nor was there analysis of the effect on employees who currently make $12/hr or more after years of experience now working alongside someone who has worked one day and is suddenly making a similar amount.
Our friends at Los Bagels and Ramones showed courage in addressing this issue. Never has a minimum wage change been proposed that would so dramatically increase (33 percent) or so quickly (90 days) upset the balance in a local economy. Layoffs and reduced hours would be seen initially. Worse yet, some businesses would shrink to less than 25 employees and others would move out of Eureka altogether.
At Eureka Natural Foods we practice the triple bottom line (TBL) business model in which people, the planet and profit are balanced as "pillars of sustainability." If enacted, our business model will be upset, requiring changes to re-balance our overall compensation package. Vision, dental, retirement? Seventy-five percent of health care cost, four weeks of vacation, 25 percent employee discount? All on the table. We haven't begun to consider these issues but are clear that the last thing we would do is raise prices on our customers.
In general, we feel that Measure R is too much, too fast; is punitive in targeting only Eureka; and creates unfairness among the local workforce. We can do better.
Rick Littlefield, Eureka
I can't understand why we are discriminating against our good and loyal workers who work in Myrtletown, Cutten, Pine Hill, Humboldt Hill, Freshwater, Bayside and other communities surrounding Eureka, but not working in Eureka itself. We are all one village, working together to raise the economy of our whole area. Measure R on the Nov. 4 ballot will pit worker against worker, in the worse sort of way; this will not be a friendly "competition" for the entry level jobs, let alone the jobs that have to restructure their wage level for their more skilled and trained sisters and brothers.
We don't need to create an artificial confrontation; we have enough serious problems that we can only solve if, and when, we all work together.
Consider voting against Measure R on Nov. 3.
Charles F. Goodwin, Jr., Eureka