UHW Surpasses Signatures Needed to Qualify Ballot Initiative to Raise CA’s Minimum Wage

[Oct. 20, 2015] OAKLAND, Calif. – Support for gradually raising California’s minimum wage to $15 is proving so popular that organizers behind a statewide ballot initiative surpassed the signatures needed to qualify the measure in just 70 days. The state allows 180 days for signature gathering.

Supporters collected the 366,000 signatures required and plan to gather an additional 235,000 to create a cushion and guarantee the initiative will qualify for the November 2016 ballot. The measure would raise wages for 3.3 million Californians.

“If this initiative passes it will change my life because I’ll be able to afford rent and groceries every month,” said Juan Salcedo, a 60-year-old janitor from San Jose who works 60 hours a week at two, part-time jobs that pay $10.30 and $11.50 an hour. “I won’t have to worry so much that one big thing like my car breaking down will leave my family struggling to keep the garage we live in.”

Signature collection began Aug. 10. SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, which is sponsoring the measure, must submit the signatures to the California Secretary of State’s office before Jan. 27, 2016.

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 go up each year to match the cost of living. California’s minimum wage is currently $9 an hour and is set to rise to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016. The initiative would permit cities to set higher local minimum wages if they choose.

According to a recent Field Poll, 68 percent of registered California voters support the initiative. More than 100 community organizations and businesses have endorsed the measure.

Here are some facts about the minimum wage in California:

  • A full-time worker making the minimum wage in California earns less than $19,000 a year;
  • 3 million Californians earn less than $15 an hour;
  • 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 low-wage workers in California are adults who are at least 20-years-old; and half are over 30.
  • More than two million children live in poverty in California.

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 The Fairness Project and Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West.

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