Authoritarian Tea-Publicans reject the constitutional right of Arizona citizens to enact a minimum wage law

Authoritarian Tea-Publicans in the Arizona legislature reject the constitutional right of Arizona citizens to make their own laws by citizens initiative. Like Louis XIV of France, they believe “I am the state,” and that you are the unwashed rabble who are mere subjects who should bow down before them.

They are also the tools of corporate plutocrats, i.e., the Arizona chambers of commerce organizations, and in particular, the Arizona Restaurant Association, the most vocal opponent of the minimum wage and paid time off leave. The ARA would bring back indentured servitude if not for the Thirteenth Amendment.

In 2016, Arizona voters overwhelmingly approved a Minimum Wage Initiative that also allowed local governments to enact paid time off leave policies. The chamber of commerce organizations and their lickspittle Tea-Publican servants in the Arizona legislature will not stand for this. They want to stomp out this citizens-created law, despite the Voter Protection Act.

Two Tea-Publican members of the Arizona Legislature think voters should reconsider parts of the minimum-wage ballot measure they passed overwhelmingly less than two years ago. Proposals to roll back Arizona’s minimum-wage ballot measure protested at Capitol:

A pair of resolutions are moving through the Legislature that together would make major changes, including: freezing the minimum wage and stopping further scheduled increases to it; eliminating mandatory sick leave; repealing provisions regarding employer retaliation; and prohibiting cities from having a higher minimum wage than is set by the state.

One, HCR 2028, introduced by House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, deals only with repealing a provision about employer retaliation.

Prop. 206 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for using their paid sick-leave time. Employers are presumed guilty of retaliation if an employee is disciplined within 90 days after using paid sick leave.

That’s what Mesnard wants to change.

“The biggest piece (of Prop. 206) was minimum wage, and I’m not interested in revisiting that. The sick leave — I’m not interested in revisiting that. I’m not even interested in revisiting retaliation,” Mesnard said.

“All I’m after is letting voters decide whether or not we should keep the presumption that businesses are guilty within 90 days. The deck is stacked against the business.”

Oh boo-freakin’-hoo! In Arizona, unless you have a contract of employment with a termination for cause provision, you are an “at-will” employee, meaning that you can be terminated at any time with or without cause for any reason (that is not violative of a law such as the Arizona Civil Rights Act). Arizona workers have very few rights and even fewer presumptions at law in their favor. J.D. Mesnard would like you to have none. Contrary to his utterly ridiculous statement, the deck is stacked in favor of employers, and always has been.

The other proposal, SCR 1016, introduced by Sen. Sylvia “Earth is 6,000 years old” Allen, R-Snowflake, also repeals retaliation protections but goes much further with the additional changes.

As I explained in an earlier post, Evil GOP bastards reject the will of the voters on Minimum Wage Initiative (Prop. 206):

A resolution sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, would ask voters to undue much of Proposition 206, a citizen-driven initiative that boosted Arizona’s minimum wage from $8.05 to $10 in 2017, $10.50 in 2018 and eventually to $12 by 2020. Allen’s resolution would also repeal mandated paid sick time and a provision that allows domestic violence victims to take paid sick leave to handle issues caused by the violence.

Allen wants voters to freeze the minimum wage at $10.50, repeal state laws requiring employers to provide paid sick leave, and adopt a new law prohibiting cities, counties or towns from adopting their own minimum wage if it’s higher than the state’s.

This is Tea-Publican authoritarianism run amok.

All the dire predictions from the Arizona chamber of commerce organizations and their lickspittle Tea-Publican servants in the Arizona legislature that the Minimum Wage Initiative would be harmful to job growth have proven false.

Since the new wage took effect, the unemployment rate in Arizona has dropped from 5.2 percent to 4.8 percent in January 2018, according to the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.

Economist Jared Bernstein writes at the Washington Post, New evidence of the minimum wage doing what it’s supposed to do: Help low-wage workers:

Among the many important charts that wage analyst extraordinaire Elise Gould has in her latest update on U.S. wage trends, the one below is especially revealing. It shows the increase in real hourly earnings for low-wage workers, those at the 10th percentile of the wage scale (meaning 90 percent earn more; 10 percent earn less) broken down by gender and by states that raised or didn’t raise their minimum wage at any time between 2013 to 2017.

EPI Chart

A little background. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since 2010, so more than half the states have acted on their own to raise their wage floor (many cities have done so too). Gould reports that a bunch of states, listed under the figure, raised their minimum wages over these years. Some did so due to legislation, either new or a phase-in of an already legislated increase; others did so because they index their wage floor to inflation (which should be, but isn’t, the law of the land; the real value of the federal minimum is constantly being eroded by inflation).

The figure makes two important points. First, as you might expect, real low pay grew more than twice as fast in states that rose their minimum wages, about 5 percent versus 2 percent. Second, the gains are larger for women than men. That’s consistent with research by the Economic Policy Institute showing that minimum wage increases tend to reach more women than men, simply because women are more likely to earn low wages. Minimum wage analyst David Cooper finds that 56 percent of the beneficiaries of a hike in the federal wage floor to $15 by 2024 would be women.

Then there’s this third point shown in the table below. With the help of Lexin Cai, I looked at the growth of employment, both overall and in three low-wage sectors (retail, leisure/hospitality, and food services, a subset of leisure), along with the decline in unemployment in these two sets of states. The reason for this bit of analysis is that some might claim that the wage gains in the states that raised their minimums came at the expense of jobs in those states. At least from this aggregate level, that’s not so. Both overall and in the lower-wage sectors, job growth was slightly faster in states that raised their wage floors and unemployment fell a bit more.

Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 7.08.33 AM

Much more careful statistical work corroborates this result, most notably this innovative approach from a recent paper by four high-octane minimum wage researchers (Cengiz, Dube, Linder, Zipperer). While there’s a bit of math in the paper, the approach is simple: use the many state increases in their wage floors as a sort of natural experiment to look at the change in jobs right around the old and new minimum wages. If these minimum wage hikes kill jobs, then the number of jobs right at or above the new minimum should be lower than those at or slightly above the old floor. In fact, the researchers find that jobs largely just shift from around the old wage to around the new wage.

The analysis underscores what by now should be a pretty simple intuition. After all, states and cities have been raising their minimums for literally decades by now. If these moves lead to the widespread job losses opponents still claim, we’d know it. In fact, most increases don’t displace most workers; they just raise their pay, as intended.

That’s not to say no one ever loses a job or hours of work due to higher wage floors. Nor is it to say that a minimum wage of any level could be handily absorbed, even in low-wage states. But any debate over this policy should be informed by results like the ones shown here, and should ignore claims that the policy generates nothing but negative, unintended consequences [the standard operating procedure of the Arizona chamber of commerce organizations and the GOP.]

To the contrary, it’s a proven way to boost low wages, thereby helping to reconnect the economic fates of low-wage workers to that of the growing economy, a connection that’s been severed by decades of inequality and diminished bargaining power for those who depend on their paychecks as opposed to their stock portfolios. Viewed in this light, higher minimum wages are an essential part of the economic rebalancing that must occur.

Therein lies the real reason these Tea-Publicans oppose the Minimum Wage Initiative: they want Arizona workers to be powerless and at the mercy of the corporate plutocrats whom they serve in the Arizona legislature.

Vote them out.

12 thoughts on “Authoritarian Tea-Publicans reject the constitutional right of Arizona citizens to enact a minimum wage law”

  1. Vouchers were approved by legislators representing a majority of the state’s residents.

  2. So asking the voters to revisit an issue and VOTE on it again is disrespecting their right to vote on issues? That is really absurd.

    • Given the much greater difficulty of getting an initiative on the ballot, as compared to a referendum, I don’t think it is absurd. If you and your colleagues had gone out and obtained the signatures required to place the issue on the ballot again, I don’t think AZBM would be making the accusation. But where thousands of voters sign petitions and a clear majority of voters agree, I think it is disrespectful (and incredibly arrogant) for a relative handful of individuals to deign themselves worthy of demanding a re-vote.

    • AZ accused you of wanting to keep Arizonan’s at the mercy of your corporate masters.

      Since you chose not to debate him on that, I’ll take that as you being in agreement.

    • What Bob said: “Where thousands of voters sign petitions and a clear majority of voters agree, I think it is disrespectful (and incredibly arrogant) for a relative handful of individuals to deign themselves worthy of demanding a re-vote.” And where does it end? Does the legislature use its power to refer matters to the ballot every two years until you and your corporate masters finally get their way – and then it becomes final?

      • No law should be written in stone. You need to trust the voters, not tie their hands.

        • Maybe you could explain your “trust the voters” statement to the people of Bisbee.

          Remember how they didn’t like plastic bags, and you said too bad?

          You did not trust the voters, you overruled them. You do this all the time.

          You need to start thinking things through a little more and embarrassing yourself less.

    • It takes 16 votes in the Senate and 31 in the House to get something on the ballot versus the hundreds of thousands of citizens to get something on the ballot, with all the roadblocks your party, solely, throws up to stop them, and you deem yourself qualified to lecture? If it took a majority Plus at least 25% of the minority to get a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot that seems more reasonable otherwise it’s just your party shoving it down everyone’s throat.

    • Plus I havent seen a noble effort by YOUR party to put vouchers clearly and cleanly on the ballot yet?

      • Vouchers were approved by legislators representing a majority of the state’s residents.

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