Ballot Argument Against Measure D Goes Goodwill Hunting

The San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want voters to pass Measure D, an increase in the city’s minimum wage. Mayor Chuck Reed doesn’t want it to pass. Even Silicon Valley’s Goodwill Industries doesn’t want it to pass. Or does it?

In a ballot argument against Measure D, the nonprofit agency is cited as one of the employers that will be hit hardest by raising salaries for low-wage workers from $8 to $10.

“Measure D means you’ll have to pay more for groceries, gas—even a hamburger,” according to the ballot argument. “And it will hurt those who need that help the most. Goodwill Industries, which helps train people with disabilities, estimates that if this measure passes it will have to cut 100 job-training positions.”

This came as a surprise to Mike Fox, Jr., Goodwill Silicon Valley’s president and CEO. Fox said Goodwill’s board of directors did not take a position for or against Measure D, and he only became aware of the nonprofit’s inclusion in the ballot argument after reading a San Jose Inside post last week by columnist Rich Robinson, a local political consultant.

“From our standpoint, I think what our board’s position and mine is, if Measure D passes or doesn’t pass, our position is we’re going to do everything we can to maximize our impact on the community,” Fox said. “We’re not looking at Measure D as an excuse to do what we need to do.”

He added that Goodwill never provided an official number to anyone on potential job cuts. “Where they came up with that, I don’t know.”

After being alerted, Fox said he had a conversation with Chamber CEO Matt Mahood. He wouldn’t divulge the details of that conversation, but sources say Fox wasn’t happy. Nonprofits generally shy away from sensitive political issues that could jeopardize their funding.

Mahood declined comment and directed questions to Tab Berg, a campaign consultant for the Chamber. “All I can say is the statement and numbers are accurate,” Berg said.

Doubling down on an unauthorized number, as well as insinuating that disabled people will lose jobs if Measure D passes, is a bold play. But Berg disagreed. “I don’t think anyone is going to vote for or against it because of one line about Goodwill,” he said.

Then why include Goodwill in the first place? That’s a question that goes deeper into the off-the-cuff discussions among Chamber members. Sources say Fox did give Chamber officials examples of how the nonprofit could be negatively affected by an increased minimum wage, he just didn’t intend for those examples to be incorporated into a ballot argument. Fox did not respond to messages for a follow-up interview.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. Goodwill won’t touch it because its afraid of the back lash. Sorry but you need to stand up for yourself. They will simply raise the prices so things cost more then guess what people won’t find as many bargains so it kills the business model.
    Sorry to say the CEO took some slack as they are paid a CEO wage. Everybody nowadays thinks CEO’s should make a 100K not 500K.
    NO on Measure D as it just Dumb

  2. The Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits wants to share the real impact to Nonprofits at the Minimum Wage.

    There are 1,400 Nonprofits in Santa Clara County with budgets over $100,000 and 40% of these are located in San Jose. Nonprofits are major employers in this community. SVCN did a survey of nonprofits that demonstrates that most nonprofit employers are currently paying above the current minimum wage despite the massive funding cut backs in our sector.

    86% of nonprofit employers reported that they will not be affected because they do not have any minimum wage employees or employees under $10 per hour.

    60% stated that the ordinance will increase their clients’ standard of living.

    44 % believe that it will help their clientele as they look for employment and begin to become self sufficient.

    42.% stated that it is important to support the increase in the standard of living.

    25% mentioned that this will positively affect youth employment, which is important as many youth work to help support their families.

    46% stated that $8 per hour is not a sustainable wage

    The Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits strongly supports the minimum wage as the right thing for San Jose.

  3. First of all P Gardner don’t even see your name listed on the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits. Do you even represent them?
    You say nonprofits are major employers how big are they? I know very few of them. It’s nice to have wealthy people giving you money but when your a small business know one seems to give you money. In fact with this Measure they will be taking more away unless I raise my prices which I risk people going to the next city which is a mile away to shop.
    Out of the six stats you say that four of them are below 50% that is less then half but then you go and say this council strongly supports this measure. That makes no sense. You should say due to the negative support we don’t support it that is if you even work there!

  4. Mahood (in cahoots with Reed) has shown time and time again that he and his Chamber lack a moral compass.  Karma will see to it that he and his allies will fail in the long term.

  5. Rich your back. I’m guessing Pat is getting paid to much as her statement has some false statements. I might as well listen to Mitt talk about taxes.
    Thinking small buddy you got to give people skills sorry paying the dishwasher $50 a hour is thinking big but your business won’t thrive its called a market rate. Unless you change it state wide your choking San Jose. If this was a tourist destination like DC or SF then yes I agree with you the city can take it.
    Cause I raise my expenses with payroll my business will thrive please find one economist that will back that up!!! Its simple econ 101 keep expenses down so you can get profits. Just like if my rent is to high I don’t care if your in the middle of the busiest area you will still go under. Just like this Measure you need a level playing field.
    This is just one group picking on a small minority.
    So tell me Rich how does one have 4-6 things under 50% and now every one is for it? Come on that adds up for strong support!I’m glad she isn’t a accountant. Maybe she can find Bush’s weapons of mass destruction while were at it.

  6. je—if you don’t know P Gardner, you don’t know Silicon Valley. 

    Patricia is among the best executive directors in the Valley.  Her integrity is unchallengable.  She knows what you should recognize, that the minimum wage will lift the entire economy and provide more business for your small business.

    Stop thinking small—because you can thrive in in a growing economy—and your business will die if you don’t have growth.

  7. How many other things has the Chamber lied about? The Chamber and Matt Mahood knew that they had never gotten a statement from Goodwill or even consulted them…If it wasnt for Goodwill outing them they would have gotten away with it…. Fully knowing that in order to have their lies and deceit removed from the ballot it would cost the city a few $100,000… they were wilingl to risk it, even though is would be at the cost of San Jose’s residents. The Chamber cant be trusted and never can the Mercury News. The Mercury News has heavily covered everything else that the Chamber has stated or done regarding Measure D but some how they decided that this get shoved in will no buzz and pushed under the water. The Mercury New is showing extreme bias to the point of corruption.

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