​Survey finds big majority of Sacramento voters favor higher local minimum wage

A sizable majority of Sacramento voters favors setting a higher minimum wage locally, according to a poll commissioned by community groups that are pushing the idea.

David Binder Research, a San Francisco firm, conducted the telephone survey of 500 Sacramento voters. It found 70 percent of Sacramento voters would support a measure to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13.50 an hour. And 58 percent of voters said they would approve raising Sacramento’s wage floor to $15 an hour over three years.

Local labor officials, who did not pay for the survey, say they are encouraged by the results. They want the Sacramento City Council to enact a first-of-its-kind minimum wage law for the city this year. If a local law is not adopted, the unions say they will push for a voter initiative on the fall 2016 ballot.

“We feel confident with those numbers … We feel like we would win this,” said Fabrizio Sasso, executive director for the Sacramento Central Labor Council.

David Binder Research has conducted polls on other hot-button issues in Sacramento like a downtown arena and strong mayor initiative. The survey was commissioned by Organize Sacramento, a community-organizing group, and the faith-based Area Congregations Together and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

Those groups are partially funded by the California Endowment, a statewide health foundation that views raising the minimum wage as a public health priority.

The poll was conducted from March 24 through March 29, and had a 4.4 percent margin of error. Voters were asked whether they would support a measure that would “require employers to pay a minimum wage of $15 for work performed in the city of Sacramento” and adjusted for inflation thereafter.

Respondents who said they would not support $15 an hour were then asked if they would support an identical measure to raise the hourly minimum wage to $13.50. Seventy percent supported that figure, and 25 percent opposed.

The central labor council did not fund the survey, said Sasso. But labor leaders were familiar with the findings. The strong margins of support ease some concerns that organizing a campaign around a local ballot measure would be done in vain, he said.

In recent weeks, the labor council has organized fast-food employees and others around a “Fight for $15” campaign that has involved protests in Sacramento and across the nation.

Mayor Kevin Johnson said in November that he would convene a minimum wage task force to explore the possibility of raising Sacramento’s wage floor above the state mandated $9 an hour. Details have yet to emerge on the formation of that group. Meanwhile, several Sacramento City Council members have expressed an interest in raising the minimum wage, though no council member has proposed a specific figure for the new wage.

Other polls show that Sacramento’s business community isoverwhelmingly opposed to the ideaSasso said he hoped business groups would engage in the coming debate.

“We hope they come in the spirit of being honest and transparent about the process and being engaged in the process instead of just lobbying for a special interest," he said.