Workers get paid to gather signatures for ballot measures

6:50 PM, Mar 19, 2012   |    comments
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WEST SACRAMENTO, CA - Now that Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Federation of Teachers' new compromise tax initiative can start gathering signatures that brings the total number of measures circulating throughout the state to a whopping 69.

Most campaigns are paying workers about $1 per signature they get or an hourly rate of $10 to $12.

"Yes, there's a lot of competition out there," Signature Gatherer Alberto Richard said. "On some days when I work, I can see up to five or six different ones right out here with us."

But since there's so much competition, Brown and teachers group are starting pay at $3 a signature, a pretty high price.
On top of that, they must get nearly a million valid signatures by early May in order to qualify for the November ballot.

And as that deadline approaches, pay could jump up to $5 or $6 a signature.

"We're committed. We're committed to doing whatever it takes in order to get this measure qualified," Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said.

Government groups, though, hate the idea of paying so much money for signature gathering.

Citizen initiatives used to be an all-volunteer campaign; however, critics said the process has been hi-jacked by well-financed groups, spending $2 million to $3 million to get their idea on the ballot.

"If you're an everyday citizen, your ability to access the ballot and put an initiative on there is very, very difficult," California Common Cause Phillip Ung said. "You would need either a large special interest backer or a millionaire."

But with the labor market still bad, job seekers say $3 a signature is looking good.

"It's not a lot of money, but it is helpful because when you look at everything that's going on in America with the economy and job situation," Job Seeker Gerald Mayo said. "It is helpful."

Nannette Miranda


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