Wage Hike Measure Has Strong Support

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Likely voters in Albuquerque favor the proposed minimum wage hike by a two-to-one margin, according to a new Journal Poll.

The survey, conducted by Research & Polling Inc., showed voter support reaching 62 percent overall, with 30 percent opposed. The remainder were undecided or didn’t know about the measure.

Pollster Brian Sanderoff said the poll results were driven by support among Democrats, with 78 percent in favor and 12 percent opposed. Republicans were much more divided on the idea, with 52 percent opposed and 42 percent in favor.

Opponents face “an uphill battle, for sure, with only a week to go before the election,” said Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc.

The proposal on this year’s ballot would increase the minimum wage in Albuquerque by a dollar – to $8.50 an hour – and establish automatic increases in the future to keep up with inflation. There also would be increases for tipped employees.

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Supporters gathered thousands of petition signatures and won a court fight to get the measure on the general election ballot.

Matthew Henderson, executive director of the OLÉ Education Fund, said the poll results match what he and other supporters hear in the community – that the current minimum of $7.50 an hour isn’t enough “to support a family.”

“I don’t think people are buying the attacks just yet,” Henderson said in an interview. But “I don’t think this is in the bag by any means.”

The Committee to Keep Albuquerque Working, which opposes the measure, said national union groups are “spreading misinformation about the wage increase” in Albuquerque. The city is a testing ground before unions take the idea elsewhere, the committee said.

“The minimum wage ballot measure – with its unclear language and multiple provisions – is extremely confusing to voters, so it’s not surprising that the measure currently receives support from a majority of voters,” the committee said in a written statement.

Opponents have only recently geared up to campaign against the measure with electronic and print advertising.

Sanderoff said the poll shows that Democrats, liberals, Hispanics and people with a high school diploma or less are the most supportive. There’s less support, but still a majority in favor, among Anglos and conservatives.

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Sanderoff noted that city voters narrowly defeated a minimum wage increase in 2005, though much of the debate then focused on a tangential issue – a provision that would have provided public access to non-work areas of businesses to inform employees of their rights under the ordinance.

For this year’s proposal, he said, opponents “have to take this issue head on” because there’s been no debate over an access provision.

Much of this year’s debate has centered on the impact of the higher wage itself. Supporters say it would put money in the hands of low-income workers who need it, boost the economy and help local businesses that must compete with out-of-state companies that pay only the minimum.

Opponents say the wage would cause job losses and higher prices, make Albuquerque less competitive in the recruitment and expansion of companies and hurt businesses in the future by requiring automatic increases.

The new minimum wage would apply only in Albuquerque city limits, and only Albuquerque voters are eligible to vote on it.

The survey was taken Oct. 23-25. It involved 308 city residents who are either likely voters or who have already cast their ballots. The margin of error for the full sample is 5.6 percentage points.

Here’s how the question was asked: “There is a proposition on the ballot to increase the minimum wage in Albuquerque next year, from $7.50 per hour to $8.50 per hour for most employees, including annual cost of living adjustments thereafter. This measure will also required tipped employees such as waiters and waitresses to be paid at least 45 percent of the minimum wage hourly rate, with future increases. Do you support or oppose this ballot measure?”
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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