Letters to the Editor: Why are paid signature gatherers even legal?
Gatherers have been a part of the community for decades.
Some are hired by community organizations to help them organize events.
They are trained to be helpful and polite.
Others are paid to attend a certain event to make signs for fundraising or to attend a public hearing.
When we hire someone to perform a task it’s usually because we think it will have a positive effect on our community. For years we have hired a free food-and-sign gatherer who went to a large church on a Sunday and collected signatures for the ballot initiative.
We knew from the start that the person collecting signatures did not really know the people. We were able to show the group, in front of everyone, that we hired a real, trained, professional gatherer who knew what he was doing and was paid for his job. We were able to offer a good cause to our neighborhood and people who otherwise might not have gone to the rally and made real contributions to our community.
We hired this person because he had good skills that could be used to help us in other ways; it didn’t make sense to pay him for the hours he worked over the week. Some who work with the homeless find themselves in similar situations.
When people know they have someone there who is paid by the hour to do some work, it’s a better model of how to use people.
A lot of the issues we talk about here are just the same but the person we hired was not paid by the hour. People would walk by and notice the gatherers walking around and getting signatures. We had a good faith belief that this gatherer was paid by the hour.
At that same event a man asked me why we pay the gatherers. I said that it was because we needed them and they make us look good. It’s a simple answer and yet a common response. We don’t make people look good by paying them or