A billboard just appeared in downtown San Francisco, sponsored by conservatives and with the blessing of the restaurant industry, showing an iPad along with copy that says, "San Francisco: Meet your minimum wage replacement." Just who in hell is responsible for this?
The copy goes on to say, "With a $15 minimum wage, employees will be replaced by less costly, automated alternatives," and points us to the website BadIdeaCA.com. That site, as Pando Daily reports, was funded by an outfit called the Employment Policies Institute, a non-profit group based in Washington D.C. that the New York Times revealed earlier this year to be nothing more than a front for a public-relations firm that represents the restaurant industry, often in the interest of killing minimum-wage hikes as it did earlier this year with a proposed federal minimum wage raise in Congress. The BadIdeaCA site points to "evidence" that San Jose's 2013 minimum-wage hike, to $10, has only led to a 45 percent reduction in staff and a 40 percent reduction in hours, based on a survey they did of 163 restaurants, not to mention higher prices in those restaurants.
About 11 percent of San Francisco workers, or 60,000 people, make minimum wage, many of them in the service industry. The current minimum wage is $10.74 per hour.
As Pando earlier reported, the Employment Policies Institute is headed up by lobbyist and PR mastermind Rick Berman, a guy who 60 Minutes did a whole story on, using his nickname, Dr. Evil. Berman gets hired to go after non-smoking groups, teachers' unions, and yes, minimum wage activists, with the help of conservative economist Kevin Murphy.
They went with the tech angle for San Francisco, but these billboards are cropping up elsewhere with different themes. The more embarrassing L.A. version features Miley Cyrus and is aimed at teenagers who will "lose their jobs when the minimum wage goes up."
The S.F. City Controller just put out a report that backs up the billboard's argument, as Bloomberg reports, saying that while a minimum-wage hike might boost employee earnings and consumer spending, it will do so at the expense of job creation, and may result in the loss of some 15,000 jobs. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive given the fact that everyone's always going to need a dishwasher, and no decent restaurant is going to make you order at a counter off an iPad, but this is what the Controller's office says.
Meanwhile, as the Examiner notes, "support is widening" for the $15 S.F. minimum wage measure, which, by the way, doesn't go into effect until 2018, with incremental hikes in between. Does anyone honestly believe that, by 2018, $15 an hour is going to sound like a lot of money in this town? The answer is no.
And if you do, enjoy Nevada.