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Raise-worthy? 

Editor:

I was disappointed in the article "$12/hr" (Oct. 16) about Measure R. There are a number of problems with it.

People have asked that instead of just saying no to come up with a better plan, so the following are my thoughts on a much better plan that would not cause the job losses and dramatic rise in prices that Measure R would.

1. First, any increase must be countywide and not discriminate against any one city.

2. My plan would have two minimum wage rates. The lower one would be the rate mandated by the state of California. It would be for: workers under 21, this would encourage business owners to give the young their first job; tipped employees, waiters and waitresses make more in tips than their wage already. This would help restaurants (already a tough business) survive; and people in their first six months on a new job. This would give employers some time to train new employees and get them up to speed.

3. The local higher rate would be for everyone else and phased in as follows: $10 per hour Jan. 1, 2015. $11 per hour on Jan. 1, 2016 and $12 per hour on Jan. 1, 2017. By phasing in the increase it gives the local economy time to adjust and lessen the disruption.

4. Last I would give employers credit for their cost of any health insurance or retirement plans they give employees. This would help encourage employers to offer those plans and that would benefit everybody.

We need to defeat Measure R as it is a job killer. Then we can bring forward this better measure.

John Fullerton, Eureka

Editor:

When I read Measure R, I couldn't understand why it was written as it was, and Grant Scott-Goforth's feature article (Oct. 16) didn't help. I believe everyone who works should earn a living wage, and we who buy the goods and services they provide should pay a fair price for them. If workers are paid a living wage, some prices will go up, and they should. It's not the end of the world, as we ought to know by now.

But Measure R applies to only a few businesses with 25 or more employees, only in Eureka, and would affect a relatively small number of workers. Why exempt smaller businesses which employ the majority of workers, and penalize those same workers by not including them? Did the drafters of Measure R think of this, or how expensive it would be for employers to implement and for the city to enforce?

If Measure R passes, businesses and nonprofits (yes, it applies to them as well) that have, say, 25 to 30 employees could downsize to 24 to exempt themselves. Other businesses could simply move out of the city entirely and focus on developing a clientele in other communities.

If Measure R were all-inclusive and countywide, I'd vote for it in a minute, but with such a narrow and short-sighted focus it doesn't really address the problem of wages in our county. Vote no on Measure R and next time let's do it right.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I am an employer in Eureka with fewer than 25 employees. Everyone makes more than $12/hr.)

Rus Krause, Arcata

Editor:

Your story on Measure R, which proposes to raise Eureka's minimum wage, lacked balance.

Of particular note, it omitted a critical point — if passed the increase would become effective 90 days after the election, 18 months for non-profits. Measure R's short timeline for implementation does not allow for businesses, agencies, nonprofits, consumers and clients to adapt to the increase.

The story provided cursory coverage of the impacts to the many agencies and non-profits that provide crucial services to our community. The $3-an-hour raise for 25 full-time employees would cost an additional $156,000 a year, plus increased workers' compensation insurance, social security tax, etc., and R requires cost of living increases each subsequent year. How will agencies and nonprofits, such as Northcoast Children's Services, HCAR, Senior Resource Center and Redwood Community Action Agency, offset these higher costs? They have limited funding and often serve our county's residents who are on fixed or limited incomes. I am concerned some reduction or elimination of services and/or a price increase (some services are currently free) is inevitable. Some proponents of R accuse anyone who discusses these possible consequences of using scare tactics, but this is basic math.

Measure R supporters often attempt to minimize its potential negative impacts by saying it allows employers to negotiate lower wages with employees. R stipulates this must be "bona fide collective bargaining," which by definition requires workers to be unionized or officially organized. Doesn't letting employers negotiate lower wages defeat the very intent of the measure, pressure employees to settle for less, and create a cumbersome process?

As someone who has worked for minimum wage in the service sector, I support a countywide incremental increase in wages; Measure R does not achieve this. Please vote no on R.

Elizabeth Finger, Arcata

Editor:

Kudos NCJ for thoroughly debunking every premise put forth by opponents of Eureka's Measure R. Leading the opposition, Republican activist John Fullerton confides he "loves Eureka," but, sadly, purchased his campaign's yard signs from Florida. Fullerton states he, "supports higher minimum wages," yet never supported the modest $1/hour citywide increase offered by Eureka's 2008 Clark-Atkins city council campaign.

Local media rarely exposes the seething ironies, hypocrisy and recklessness of this county's right-wing "celebrities" whose deregulatory, laissez-faire ideology dominates nearly every local elected and appointed office, a political agenda responsible for killing jobs while abandoning the fundamental conservative principle to, "pay (fair wages) upfront, or pay dearly later."

Eureka is paying dearly.

With working families lacking disposable income, and so many residents seeking goods and services outside Humboldt County, half the Bayshore Mall evacuated, General Hospital collapsed, Ray's Market struggled a decade without customers, and Eureka's iconic Stanton's Café is serving tacos. Increasing poverty increases unemployment, empty storefronts, blighted properties, shuttered schools, crime, drug abuse and capital flight.

Our largest job killer is a bay surrounded in brownfields, the legacy of deregulatory, "trickle-down" hogwash by law makers' laser-focus on maintaining a general plan that facilitates continuing transfers of public wealth to their wealthy supporters; unaccountable crony-capitalists awaiting EPA cleanups; speculators "entitled" to massive infrastructure projects serving overstocked, overpriced subdivisions; Developers getting a "pass" on building affordable housing downtown (increasing demands for housing aid); large employers paying poverty-wages (increasing demands for food stamps).

Our rigged political and economic system discourages the majority of potential voters from voting, however, measures R and P are inspiring voter turnout for Bergel and Arroyo to win a majority government in Eureka that is not funded by speculator interests for the first time in living memory.

Vote yes on R, P, Bergel and Arroyo.

George Clark, Eureka

Editor:

They say that poor people are too stupid to vote. I hope that this isn't true for November's election in Eureka. This election can really change things in Eureka. Lord knows we need it. Measure R, "the Fair Wage Act," will raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour for bigger businesses only, but it is a start. When the proposal was put before the Eureka City Council and the mayor a while ago only Linda Atkins supported it. I believe that she is also the only elected representative in Humboldt County who supports a substantial increase in the minimum wage. But in this election Kim Bergel and Natalie Arroyo have the courage to go up against the ruling class and are running for the Eureka City Council. They both support a living wage in Eureka and will really represent the common people, or at least try. Linda Atkins could use a little help. I can't believe that no one had the courage to run against Mayor Frank Jager, oh well.

Humboldt County and Eureka have been literally ruled by the Robber Barons and the Ingomar Club since the locals were wiped out. It is time for a change. Vote out the slavers. Please get out there and vote and keep your voting stubs in case there's a recount. In a lot of places they make it hard for people to vote, with long lines and such. There are never long lines at the polls here. I wish that I still lived in the city limits so that I could vote in this election. You can't keep a roof over your head on eight or nine dollars an hour. You can't have an economy when only the rich can afford to buy anything.

Elliott Linn, Eureka

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