Header Image

CPD In the News

| Raising the Bar for Workers and Families
Published By:Associated Press

Signature gathering begins for $12 minimum wage initiative

PHOENIX (AP) - A group advocating for worker’s rights is gathering signatures for a ballot initiative in Arizona that would increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, at the same time Republican lawmakers are proposing their own ballot measure that would give the Legislature sole authority to set the wage in the state.

The fight over Arizona’s minimum wage has grown amid widespread worker frustration over sluggish wage growth that has fueled presidential campaigns and led to legislative battles on both sides of the country - California and New York lawmakers are poised to pass bills lifting the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next several years.

The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Initiative incrementally increases minimum wage in Arizona to $12 per hour by 2020 and requires employers to provide earned paid sick time.

The initiative campaign has less than four months to collect more than 150,000 valid signatures necessary to get on the November ballot. Arizona’s current minimum wage is set at $8.05 per hour and is increased annually based on inflation.

Campaign manager Tomas Robles said his group has worked with people on both sides of the issues to find a compromise that offers workers a livable wage without putting too much of a burden on employers.

“We feel that this wage increase is that happy medium that protects small business and helps workers who can’t pay their rent at the end of the month even though they work full time,” he said.

 The campaign committee has received backing from the Latino rights organization Living United for Change and the Center for Popular Democracy, a social and economic justice advocacy organization, Robles said. The campaign aims to collect more than 250,000 signatures using a combination of paid and volunteer petitioners to ensure they can get on the ballot.

At the same time, Arizona Republicans have proposed to increase the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2020 with annual adjustments based on inflation - in a bid to stymie an increase in wages they say small businesses could not handle.

“This offering is kind of a counter-balance to the insane socialism we hear in other quarters,” said Sen. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, during a committee hearing in March.

It would also prevent cities, towns and counties from setting their own minimum wage, which Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has said would “drive our economy off a cliff.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the measure on a 5-3 party-line vote. It will now undergo a standard review before going to a Senate vote. If passed, House Concurrent Resolution 2014 could go before voters this November.

If both measures end up on the ballot and both pass, the initiative with greatest number of “yes” votes would win.