State Organization Comes One Step Closer to Minimum Wage Increase In Las Cruces, New Mexico

Aug. 5, 2014

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Randy Lynch

 

Yesterday, in the Las Cruces City Council meeting, signatures gathered by the organization, CAFe, were brought to the attention of the council. City Clerk, Esther Martinez-Carrillo brought Resolution No. 15-018: A Resolution Reviewing and Approving the Certification of Signatures on an Initiative Petition Proposing Adoption of an Ordinance Setting Minimum Wages to the floor. This resolution was simply for the council to accept that the City Clerk’s Office had recieved and verified the required number of valid signatures to petition the city council to address the demand of CAFe to increase the minimum wage in Las Cruces to $10.10 per hour. The clerk’s office went through 5,063 signatures in order to reach the required 2,257 valid signatures.

The City Council unanimously accepted the petition as valid and will have a first reading of the proposed ordinance at the August 18th meeting. After that, a meeting will be set no later than September 8th for the Council to decide whether to adopt the ordinance or to vote it down; at which point, it would be placed on the ballot for a special election.

The Las Cruces Sun News quoted CAFe executive director Sarah Nolan as saying, “We’re super thrilled it was a unanimous vote from the council. We’re very excited, and glad they had this discussion.”

The thing is, there was no discussion about the actual minimum wage proposal. In fact, Mayor Ken Miyagishima made it clear in the meeting that arguments for or against the proposal would be inappropriate and not allowed at that time, so any claim or allusion that there was any positive or negative discussion of the issue is false. The unanimous decision that Nolan referred to was only an affirmation of the City Clerk’s ability to validate the signatures. Any attempt to use that vote to claim any council support for CAFe’s agenda is purely propaganda. The fact is that no member of the council voiced either support or opposition regarding the issue itself with only one exception.

While several council members thanked Ester Martinez-Carrillo for her work in verifying the signatures, City Councilor Olga Pedroza also thanked and congratulated CAFe, saying, “I also want to compliment the people who brought together the public participation. We always talk about engagement and engagement of the public, but, uh, I have not been on the council as long as, uh, Councilor Small, but this is the first time that I have seen the numbers of people engaged and willing to participate, so to all who were involved, thank you and congratulations.” While not being an overt endorsement of this minimum wage initiative, the positive message directed at CAFe is not surprising. Pedroza has made her hard left positions clear on many occasions, including her recent campaign for re-election to her city council position. There’s not a lot of doubt about which way she’ll vote once the legislation is brought before the council, but there is no telling how any other councilor will vote. It does seem likely, though, that the Council will not approve the ordinance and it will then be put on the ballot for Las Cruces citizens to vote on.

CAFe has been pushing for a hefty increase in the minimum wage for quite a while now. When the City Council did approve an ordinance to increase by increments the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour by the beginning of 2016 as a sort of reasonable compromise, CAFe made it very clear that compromise was not an option. The damage that this kind of increase could cause, not only to businesses, but also to the employees that groups like CAFe claim to want to help doesn’t seem to be much of a factor to these people. They are firmly locked into the entitlement mentality and can’t seem to grasp the concept that a nearly 35% mandatory increase in pay is going to hurt those minimum wage employees by hurting their employers. The ridiculous idea that business owners are akin to Scrooge McDuck, swimming in vaults full of gold while their workers barely survive has been spread like a virus by liberals. While a $2.60 per hour raise doesn’t seem like much, try multiplying that expense by multiple employees and that small amount adds up to some serious money. These sorts of increases result in larger businesses laying off workers and smaller businesses either doing the same or just simply going out of business. No one is helped, no matter how high the minimum wage is raised, if there are no jobs available for workers to earn ANY kind of wage. In all cases, though, there is also a sharp increase in the cost of goods and services as well. In best case scenarios, after a nearly 35% increase in the minimum wage, as CAFe is wanting, you’ll see prices rise 35% to make up for the extra expense of just making payroll. Often, that increase will end up being even greater, meaning that, while these people that groups like CAFe claim to be trying to help have more dollars in their pocket on payday, they can’t buy as much as they could before. You don’t genuinely help people by selling them an illusion that things are getting better while they stay locked into jobs that were only meant to be entry-level, not something designed to make a career out of and raise a family on.

I’m hoping that business owners who can see the damage that this sort of action will cause, along with clear-headed employees with that same vision, will get out and vote to defeat this measure if (and probably when) it makes it onto the ballot. We already know that there are a lot of people in Las Cruces who believe this kind of minimum wage increase is a good thing, so this is not a time to sit home on Election Day and hope everything will work out. This will be a time where every level-headed Las Crucen needs to get to the polls and do their part to defeat this initiative before the damage can be done. The only possible saving grace is the fact that, on the path to verifying 2,257 signatures on CAFe’s petition, 2,806 signatures were deemed invalid but, since we don’t know why they were rejected, there’s really no reason to gain any reassurance from that. The only way to insure that this increase does not become law is to actively make our voices heard; to get out and vote and get your friends, family, co-workers and bosses to do the same. Get out in November and protect your jobs and businesses from this probably well-intentioned but highly destructive law before it can be enacted.

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