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Campaign to support Anaheim's 'living wage' measure kicks off

Campaign to support Anaheim's 'living wage' measure kicks off
Unite Here, Local 50, which represents hotel workers, food service employees and others, drafted the measure to target Disneyland Resort. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Less than two months before voters go to the polls in Anaheim, union leaders representing workers at the Disneyland Resort kicked off a campaign Saturday to support a “living wage” measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The campaign was launched with a rally, speeches and chants at the offices of Unite Here, Local 50, which represents hotel workers, food service employees and others. The union helped collect nearly 20,000 signatures to put the living wage measure on the ballot.

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Union leaders said the campaign began with about 50 volunteers, wearing union T-shirts, walking the streets of Anaheim, urging voters to support the measure.

If approved, the measure requires any large hospitality business that accepts a tax rebate from the city to pay its workers a living wage. The measure says workers must be paid a minimum of $15 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2019, with salaries rising $1 an hour every Jan. 1 through 2022. Once the wages reach $18 an hour, annual raises would then be tied to the cost of living.

The union drafted the measure to target Disneyland Resort, which had entered into two tax-rebate agreements with the city involving a gate tax and a hotel subsidy. But officials with Walt Disney Co. persuaded the Anaheim City Council last month to end the agreements, saying the deals created too much animosity.

Regardless of that move, union leaders say the ballot measure still applies to the Disneyland Resort because the city separately agreed in 1996 to a deal that relies on city taxes to pay off a bond measure to build a $108-million parking garage for the resort.

“We believe it does apply to Disney and we are going to tell people that it applies,” said Austin Lynch, an organizing director for Unite Here in Orange County.

Disney officials have declined to address whether the living wage measure still applies to the resort, directing all questions to the city of Anaheim.

A spokesman for the city said the 1996 agreement doesn’t appear to qualify as a tax rebate under the living wage measure, adding that the Anaheim city attorney does not plan to issue a legal opinion on the matter until after the Nov. 6 election.

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