SAN FRANCISCO – The national movement to raise low-wage workers’ income took its biggest step forward today when a ballot initiative to gradually increase California’s minimum wage to $15 by 2021 officially qualified for the Nov. 8 ballot.
If approved by voters, California would become the largest state to improve the standard of living for low-wage workers, benefiting 3.3 million men and women in California – including 400,000 in the eight-county San Francisco Bay Area – and help set the stage for a higher minimum wage across the country.
“Life has become so expensive in California that minimum wage earners struggle to pay for rent, food, and medicine, even if they’re working 60 hours a week at two jobs, and this doesn’t reflect our values as a society that takes care of each other,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who is co-chair of the campaign. “Under this ballot initiative, we can start to restore some balance and dignity to the lives of millions of hardworking men and women and their families in California.”
The California Secretary of State’s office certified that initiative organizers had collected the necessary 402,468 signatures to be immediately placed on the ballot.
The Fair Wage Act of 2016 would raise California’s minimum wage to $11 in 2017 and then gradually increase it a dollar a year until it reaches $15 in 2021. Once the minimum wage reaches $15, it will automatically be adjusted each year to keep pace with the cost of living. California’s minimum wage is currently $10 an hour, which amounts to less than $21,000 a year for a full-time worker.
“As a small business owner, I know firsthand how hard it can be balancing the books and I also know that a well-paid employee is more productive and helps satisfied customers keep coming back,” said Gary Gerber, CEO of Sun Light & Power in Berkeley. “And in cities like Oakland and San Francisco, which have enacted increased minimum wage laws, unemployment rates continue to drop.”
Advocates of the ballot initiative say it will improve the lives of millions, generate more income tax revenue for state and local government to spend on schools, roads and parks, reduce government spending needed to aid the poor, and will grow the economy as the higher wages are spent in workers’ communities.
“Life is pretty hard when you have to keep telling your kids, ‘No, you can’t have that and you can’t have that,” said Catalina Velasquez, a janitor from San Jose who earns $10 an hour. “A raise would mean I could pay for their sports leagues and I could fix my car.”
The initiative has been endorsed by 300 community organizations, labor unions, faith leaders, small business owners and elected officials, including U.S. Reps. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) and Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro), California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Controller Betty Yee, 28 state legislators and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who serve as co-chair of the initiative campaign.
According to the Field Poll, 68 percent of registered California voters support the initiative.
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Paid for by Lift Up California, Sponsored by Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West, A Coalition of Non-Profit and Labor Organizations. Major funding by Lift Up California Wages, Sponsored by Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West and The Fairness Project. 560 Thomas L. Berkley Way, Oakland, CA 94612.
Definitely voting NO on this. No one working at fast food place flipping burgers should get paid $15 an hour. That is absurd and ridiculous She’s a janitor making $10 and wants more for her kids. Then work two jobs lady, or get a better job. Maybe go to school, but to force employers to pay you more is crazy. All this will do is get them replaced with machines who will do their job. Good Luck with all that
Howard, this isn’t the 50s anymore. The job market is scarce, the population is growing exceedingly large, the cost of living is irrational in comparison to wages, etc. Raising minimum wage is a way to keep up with these changing times. Even working two jobs for many people doesn’t work, and many weren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouths.
There is only a shortage of jobs in well paying, but where little skills or knowledge is needed. Blue collar jobs, many that pay union scale are out there, but too many people lack the skill-set to fill them. People that have no marketable skills will always be wanting, that is just a fact. The janitor in the example above that is only making $10/hour as a janitor, I can guarantee has made a lot of bad decisions along the way.
That’s understandable, but it’s pretty presumptuous to claim that someone has made bad life decisions based on what type of job they have. There are plenty of bad people with great jobs out there; plenty of great people with low paying jobs. Career and personal character aren’t always one and the same. At the end of the day, you just sound like typical Career Elitist.
You know nothing about me. My folks were poor. I could not afford college so I went to a tech school which took me more than 10 years to pay for. I was hired after school in 1974, during a major gas crisis, inflation in the teens as well as interest rates. Much worse times than we are going through now. I found a good job in my field because I had something to bring to my employer. I worked for six different companies and worked hard to get to where I am today. So I understand what it takes to get here.
Raising minimum wage is a job killer for young people starting out. Minimum wage was never designed or meant to be a living wage, merely the lowest rung on the beginning of our career. If you can’t get past that first rung, then go get some marketable job skills, go back to school, find a better job. Wherever jobs can be replaced by modernization and robots and makes economic sense for employers, those minimum wage jobs will be gone or possibly shipped to another state or country.
As you raise the minimum wage so goes everything else. Food goes up, rents go up, why because they can. No headway is being made at all. Get an education is the only way to make more money and get ahead. A good number of places are planning to close because of this law and I support them completely. When unions went into effect and thereby raising the wages for employees everything went up and has never stopped. Everything is connected folks. Don’t kid yourselves.
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