If you make minimum wage, you simply can't afford to live in Los Angeles on your own. That's a scientific fact.
But corporate forces have been whining like flopping soccer players about California's minimum wage increasing to a whopping $9, which takes effect today.
A campaign against California's increase is targeting the very young people it would benefit by using an image of Miley Cyrus without the pop singer's permission:
An Employment Policies Institute billboard that uses Miley's iconic, tongue-out image claims that she is “twerked off … because so many California teens will lose their jobs when the minimum wage goes up.”
A billboard with the image, above, will be go up above Sunset Boulevard near La Cienega Boulevard early next week, a spokeswoman for the Employment Policies Institute campaign said.
Asked if Cyrus had signed off on the endorsement, Michael Saltsman, research director at the institute, told us:
EPI purchased the rights to use the photograph, but we haven't checked with Miley on whether the minimum wage increase is the real reason she's “twerked off.” We're not attributing this particular point of view to her — we're just using a fun turn-of-phrase to jump-start a conversation about the unintended consequences of wage mandates.
Steven M. Weinberg, an intellectual property and branding attorney with the firm Holmes Weinberg, said this could be a risky move on the part of the institute:
Most celebrities are very litigious, and if she doesn't stand behind it they could end up being in a legal mess. It's okay to use something in an informational, First Amendment way, but if you look like she's endorsing it you could run into problems. If, in fact, this is not her position, then it may transcend First Amendment protection.
We reached out to Cyrus' publicist but have not heard back.
Today's wage increase will be followed by a bump to $10 in 2016 under a law signed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The institute argues that the wage increases will further harm the job prospects of teenagers and college-age Californians. It says in a statement that L.A. has one of the worst teen unemployment rates in California:
Of the top five worst metropolitan areas for teen unemployment, four areas are located in California: Riverside, CA, Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, and San Francisco, CA, have youth unemployment rates of 54.2 percent, 39 percent, 37.5 percent, and 35.2 percent respectively.
Miley Cyrus's biggest fans are suffering through a teen unemployment crisis in California and beyond. With youth unemployment averaging 21 percent nationally, many teens are missing out on valuable work experience that goes far beyond just earning a paycheck.
Of course, as we all know, the folks making minimum wage at jobs flipping burgers, washing cars and working at the mall are increasingly adults with adult responsibilities — like rent and kids of their own to support.
But if you think suburban teens' summer money is a priority, then this campaign is for you. After all, these kids do have to save up for the next Miley concert.