Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Great No On Measure R Ad

A very hard- hitting paid advertisement (.pdf file) opposing Measure R appeared in today's Times- Standard. I didn't catch it in the paper but received notice of it through the No On Measure R Facebook page feed.

Update: Since at least one commentator couldn't use the link to the ad, I copied and pasted it below. Hat tip to John Chiv for however he got it on his blog. Sorry for the formatting problems. It didn't copy and paste here easily, even after me trying to fix it:

                                          Fair Wage Folks” have fooled a lot of  people
                                           Measure R was never about a living wage

Measure R has never been about a “Living Wage” or improving the local economy. Measure R has always been about the Occupy movement’s disdain for Walmart. An honest byline would have read “Get Walmart”.  If their true intentions are in doubt, look at the early content of their social media pages and consider these questions: Why does this stop at the city limits? Why is it only companies with over 25 employees? Why is there an exemption for unions? Does a union employee not also deserve a “Living Wage”?  Does a worker in a small cafe not deserve a “Living Wage”? Does an employee who works in Myrtletown not deserve a “Living Wage”? The Unions and local Occupy Movement have their crosshairs on Walmart, but a lot of good, locally owned Eureka businesses, and many organizations serving the elderly and poor are being caught in the crossfire.

People are struggling, and I’m sympathetic. Early on, I lived in the back room of a body shop in  Mckinleyville until I found my footing working multiple jobs. The last four businesses I worked for all closed down when they succumbed to financial pressures. I still have my last paycheck from one of them. It never cleared the bank.

Now I work for a good company. 20 years ago I started with City Ambulance, who operates Humboldt Dial-A-Ride and City Cab, earning $3.35 per hour as a part-time EMT. After paramedic school, nursing school, a bachelor’s degree, and a lot of hard work, I make significantly more. I’ve always had an opportunity to succeed on my efforts, but I see that opportunity disappearing for my kids who are just entering the workforce. I see how companies are responding to the increasing pressures from minimum wage hikes, health insurance, increases workman’s compensation insurance increases, and regulatory changes.

City Ambulance gives a portion of profits to the employees at the end of each year. 5 years ago, we paid over $100,000.00 in performance bonuses. Perfect attendance- $200.00; Accident free- $300.00; No customer  complaints $200.00; and the list goes on. Many good employees received a full month’s check or more in the form of a bonus, and we gave away a cruise each year at our company picnic. Last year, that number was down to $25,000.00. The bonus may not even exist this year. So who lost out in favor of wage pressure and excessive regulation? The employee who showed up for work on time with a good attitude and took care of our customers.

In 2007, we had over 100 employees and used local work assistance programs to help the unemployed and disabled re-enter the workforce. We discontinued the program in 2008, after an 18.5% increase in the minimum wage over just two years, and we’ve since cut our staff down to about 90 employees.

Benefits? You can’t find five taxicab companies in all of California like ours that have health insurance, retirement and vacation for their taxicab drivers. All of that is in jeopardy as we look for ways to survive. We could add a surcharge of $1.50 on Eureka taxicab fares, but fares have already doubled over the last five years. How much will the market bear? The fact is we will find some creative way to restructure. There won’t be any winners.

Those benefits that atrophy in favor of wages are all pretax, so we ALL feel the sting when they are reduced. Just 5 years ago, we paid for a very generous health insurance plan for employees. Today, that’s been scaled back to a minimum plan and employees must contribute 5-9% of their wages. Unlike this proposal, the City of Seattle had the good sense to recognize that benefits should be factored into the minimum wage.

Our Dial-A-Ride services? Well, if Measure R passes, the City of Eureka will have a choice. Pay significantly more for service or cut back on transportation for the elderly and disabled. Which do you think will happen? We are not alone in this plight. Senior nutrition programs, childcare services, afterschool programs, parks and recreation, and other transportation programs are caught in the crossfire and many are preparing for cuts to service.

City Ambulance will adapt in a way that will sadly upset some lives. Not because my boss is a greedy corporate fat cat, but because this family business that has supported our little league teams, community non-profits, our employees, and has given back to the community in immeasurable ways for over five decades, is caught in the crossfire. Measure R is what happens when the desire to punish Walmart trumps concern for the community.  I trust that voters will see the forest for the trees and vote “NO” on Measure R. One more thing. If you think our taxicab drivers deserve more, I agree. Don’t wait for the inevitable fare increases forced by regulation. Give it to them directly with an extra $1.50 in your tip. I always do.

Jaison Chand,  Eureka


At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clicked on it, but the link isn't working for me -- just brings up a blank page.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Do you have Acrobat Reader, or any other program to read pdf files on your computer? Link works for me.

At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If their true intentions are in doubt, look at the early content of their social media pages and consider these questions: Why does this stop at the city limits?"

There's a pretty simple answer to this, which is that there is no mechanism for passing a minimum wage increase by voter initiative at the county level, it would have to be done by the county board of supervisors, but they haven't done it. The City of Eureka does have a voter initiative process. That's it "stops at the city limits." So if your main objection is that it stops at the city limits, take that up with your county supervisor.

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Very well written.


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