In Polling and On the Streets, Raising California’s Minimum Wage Proves Highly Popular

[Sept. 3, 2015] LOS ANGELES – The campaign to gradually raise California’s minimum wage a dollar a year until it reaches $15 an hour in 2021 is proving so popular with voters that organizers behind a statewide ballot initiative announced today they have collected 109,000 signatures – or more than a quarter of the goal – in just three weeks of talking with voters across the state. It comes on the heels of a recent statewide poll showing 68 percent of California voters support the measure.

The measure’s proponents sent a letter today to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla certifying that 25 percent of the signatures have been collected, a notification that is required under a new law governing state ballot initiatives. The letter will trigger a legislative hearing sometime before June 30, 2016.

“I’ve been involved in California ballot initiatives for more than 40 years, and the public response to raising the minimum wage to $15 has been one of the strongest at this early stage,” said Fred Kimball, owner of Kimball Petition Management in Westlake Village, Calif., who is overseeing signature gathering for the minimum wage initiative. “Voters understand the challenge of living on so little each day and they’re showing their support by signing the petition in droves.”

Signature collection began Aug. 10. SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, which is sponsoring the measure, expects to submit the required 366,000 signatures to the California Secretary of State’s office before the January 27, 2016 deadline.

Last week, voters outside a Target store in Alhambra, Calif. were so eager to sign the petition that a handful of them waited in line.

According to a Field Poll released last week, 68 percent of registered Californian voters support the initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage $1 each year until it reaches $15 an hour in 2021. The measure would appear on the November 8, 2016 ballot and raise the minimum wage for California workers in all industries by $1 a year beginning in January 2017. Once the minimum wage reaches $15, it will automatically go up each year to match the cost of living.

Here are some facts about the minimum wage in California, which is currently $9 an hour and is set to rise to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016:

  • A full-time worker making the minimum wage in California earns less than $19,000 a year;
  • 3.2 million Californians – or more than a third of all hourly wage earners – earn less than $15 an hour and would be affected by the ballot initiative;
  • 1.8 million people in California earn the minimum wage, including 200,000 who are older than 55;
  • More than half of minimum wage workers in California are women;
  • 95 percent of minimum wage workers in California are at least 20-years-old; and
  • More than two million children live in poverty in California.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest number of minimum wage earners in California are employed as retail salespeople, cashiers, food preparation workers, waiters and waitresses, and freight and material movers.

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