While Congress and state legislatures across the country remain paralyzed by partisan disagreement, ballot initiatives provide a path forward for improving the lives of millions of Americans. The Fairness Project bolsters state- and city-based ballot initiative campaigns and drives a national narrative to elevate issues of economic fairness. By harnessing the power of successful ballot initiative campaigns, The Fairness Project offers voters the opportunity to do what politicians cannot or will not: take direct action to enact sound economic policy and change their own lives.
In 2016, The Fairness Project partnered with nearly every ballot-initiative campaign to raise the minimum wage, two of which also guaranteed paid sick and safe leave. The organization’s local partnerships with campaigns in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Washington state and Washington D.C. ultimately led to higher pay for roughly 8 million working Americans and paid sick days for 1.9 million.
In a historically polarizing election year, The Fairness Project’s partner campaigns transcended partisan divides and were victorious in every state that minimum wage increases appeared on the ballot with higher margins of victory than the presidential candidates. As 2016 proved, The Fairness Project is well-positioned for success because solutions to the country’s broken economy are popular across all demographics.
The Fairness Project enables ballot-initiative campaigns to utilize data-driven campaign technology and create a national infrastructure that lives from one campaign cycle to the next. The organization is currently identifying local campaign partners for 2017, 2018 and beyond.
Our partnership with Lift Up California led to The Fairness Project’s first victory, proving that well organized, widely supported ballot initiatives can serve as a catalyst for legislative action. A $15/hr minimum wage by 2021 was passed into law on April 4, 2016 in California, just a week after an initiative put forth by our partner, Lift Up California, qualified for the ballot.
Spurred by over a year of organizing by our partners at DC for $15 and the support of nearly 90% of D.C. voters, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed legislation on June 27, 2016 to raise Washington D.C.’s minimum wage to $15 per hour and increase the subminimum wage for tipped workers to $5 an hour by 2020, impacting 127,000 workers. Mayor Bowser credited the campaign for “propelling” her and the D.C. Council forward.
On Election Day, November 8, 2016, Arizona voters passed Proposition 206 to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 for more than 775,000 working Arizonans and guarantee paid sick and safe leave to 934,000.
Proposition 206 passed by a margin of 20 points (60%-40%).
On Election Day, November 8, 2016, Colorado voters passed Amendment 70 to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour, impacting nearly half a million working Coloradans.
Amendment 70 passed by a margin of 10 points (55%-45%).
On Election Day, November 8, 2016, Maine voters passed Question 4 to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020 and eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers by 2024, impacting more than 180,000 working Mainers.
Question 4 passed by a margin of 12 points (56%-44%).
On Election Day, November 8, 2016, Washington voters passed Initiative 1433 to raise the minimum wage to $13.50 an hour for more than 730,000 working Washingtonians and guarantee paid sick and safe leave to 1 million by 2020.
Initiative 1433 passed by a margin of 18 points (59%-41%).
Jonathan Schleifer, Executive Director
Jonathan Schleifer brings nearly two decades of experience to his role as Executive Director of The Fairness Project. Prior to joining The Fairness Project, Jonathan saw firsthand the impact of economic inequality on working Americans – specifically the veterans, teachers and low-income families that he served as an advocate and teacher.
Jonathan has served America’s newest veterans twice as the Chief Policy Officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), where he led IAVA’s legislative, research and political departments. Before his time with IAVA, Jonathan served as Executive Director of Educators 4 Excellence-New York, after having taught middle school in the South Bronx with Teach for America. His experience also includes time on the campaign trail and on Capitol Hill. A lifelong activist, educator, and advocate he is dedicated to enacting policy that is good for our families and our country.
Jonathan resides in Washington D.C. with his wife, son, and rescued mutt. He has graduate degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School and Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Linda SerratoYbarra, Communications Director
Linda SerratoYbarra is the Communications Director of The Fairness Project. With nonprofit, governmental, campaign and start-up experience, Linda has led communications operations and conveyed the story of diverse organizations and leaders across the nation.
Most recently, Linda worked with Los Angeles city leaders to increase the minimum wage citywide and coordinated media contacts and press events. She also has experience working directly with voters across the nation as a campaigner for Secretary Clinton’s and, later, President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. She proudly works towards equality in our nation from economic to educational issues.
Linda lives with her husband, Matt Ybarra and their dog Hemingway in Los Angeles, CA. She holds a B.A. in Public Policy from Stanford University.
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