Governor Brown Signs Historic Minimum Wage Increase

brown minimum wageImagine having to choose between buying soap for yourself or diapers for your baby. Or being forced to walk miles to work because you chose breakfast over bus fare. Or being left with no choice but to go to the local food bank in order to feed your family. These are the harsh realities that millions of low-wage workers in California face every day.  But fortunately for them (and for our state as a whole), their future just got a lot brighter.

Wednesday morning, Governor Brown made history by signing AB 10 (Alejo), a sorely-needed and long-overdue wage increase for California’s lowest-wage workers that passed through the Legislature with strong support from the California Labor movement.

To commemorate the momentous occasion, Gov. Brown held two special press events today. At this morning’s event in Los Angeles, Gov. Brown and Assemblymember Alejo were joined by a group of local car wash workers, and the Oakland bill signing event this afternoon was filled with young men and women enrolled in the pre-apprentice program at the Cypress Mandela Training Center.

Governor Brown:

Our society is experiencing a growing gap between those at the top and those at the bottom. Our social fabric is being ripped apart. Today, we sew that fabric a little tighter together, as we raise the wages of those who labor at the bottom … This is an important step to raise the floor, even as the floor and ceiling get farther and farther apart. So today we’re celebrating something very important: we’re taking a step, through our state Legislature, to give back to those who work so hard but get the least amount of compensation.

While the cost of everything from housing to food and transportation has skyrocketed all across the state, California’s minimum wage workers haven’t seen a raise in five years, even while neighboring states with lower costs of living have raised their wages. AB 10 will raise up more than 2.3 million low-wage workers who’ve been struggling to get by.

Yaveth Gomez, a college graduate who received a degree in Film Studies from UC Berkeley in 2009, now works as a dishwasher at a restaurant and earns $8.50 an hour. He shared his personal story about being forced to go to the food bank when he couldn’t afford groceries, and said

I believe this minimum wage raise is going to help a lot of people. $8.50 is really not enough for us.

The statewide wage increase comes on the heels of San Jose’s monumental minimum wage ballot measure, passed in 2012, which increased the city’s wage to $10 and proved that raising the wage has a positive and simulative effect on the economy. The new statewide minimum wage will be implemented in two steps; increasing from $8 to $9 per hour in July of next year, followed by another one-dollar increase to $10 in January of 2016. By providing an estimated $2.6 billion in additional wages to the state’s lowest-paid workers, California will reap $1 billion in new economic growth as workers spend their increased wages, and job growth will expand as businesses hire to meet the increased consumer demand. (Learn more about the benefits of a $10 minimum wage.)

Assemblymember Luis Alejo, the sponsor of AB 10:

This [minimum wage] bill got a lot of momentum at the beginning of the year, when President Obama called for raising the federal minimum wage. The President supports it, the American people support it across the country, and yet our Congress has failed to act. But California is often the vanguard for the rest of our nation, and we’re always leading the way to strengthen and building our middle class – and this [new law] is an example of that. Today it’s California; tomorrow it’s going to be many other states that follow in our example.

rebecca brandCalifornia Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

Today’s bill signing affirms California’s role as leader in supporting low-wage workers. This is a historic day for all Californians, as we now have the highest minimum wage in the country.

While this is an important victory and a huge step in the right direction, our fight for a living wage for every single California is far from over. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure all California workers earn enough to support their families.

Rebecca Band
Labor’s Edge

Wednesday 25 September 2013

About Rebecca Band

Rebecca Greenberg Band has served as California Labor Federation Communications Organizer since 2007, where she coordinates traditional and new media, as well as member communications to the Federation's 1,200 unions and 2.1 million members. Rebecca is the editor of Labor's Edge and manages the Labor Federation's Facebook and Twitter pages. She lives in El Sobrante with her husband and three pets.

Comments

  1. Richard M. Mathews says:

    This is a nice start, but it is not enough. It makes a one-time increase to $10/hr in 2015 (with an intermediate $9/hr in 2014).

    We have had a national minimum wage as high as $11/hr (2013 dollars), so we still need at least another $1/hr added.

    We also need to index the minimum wage to inflation.

    The California Democratic Party, at my instigation, has called for $11/hr plus indexing. We need to take this next step. And, of course, we need to do this nationwide.

  2. Alessandra Colfi says:

    it’s great and historic, but minimum wage – living wage should be at least $ 15-/hour.

  3. I’m very glad this was finally achieved ~ it should have been $12 / Hr. and implemented immediately .

    I remember working for $1.50 / Hr. in 1972 and my Father coming home one day telling me the minimum wage went up to $2.50 / Hr. , I asked for my raise and was fired for my impertinence .

    Few Employers will ever pay a decent wage unless forced to do so , it’s just basic Human Nature at it’s worst .

    -Nate

  4. Wonder why he’s not making history with National media No doubt Republicans & Corporate America whom our media beds down with Would rather swim in a sea of snakes then to push this!!

    • No , no ~ it’s that terrible ‘ liberal media ‘ the inbred tea bagger morons are always crying about ~ that’s who’s hiding this most important Worker boost .

      The _LIBERALS_ , it’s always their fault , just ask any 1 %’er .

      -Nate

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