[Nov. 3, 2015] OAKLAND, Calif. – California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has thrown his support behind a ballot initiative to gradually raise California’s minimum wage to $15, an effort that has strong voter support and would benefit 3.3 million state residents.
“Millions of hardworking Californians struggle every day to provide for themselves and their families because their wages have not kept up with the high cost of living in our state,” said Newsom, who was elected Mayor of San Francisco in 2003 when voters there approved an initiative to increase the city’s minimum wage based on inflation. “California leads the country on so many issues like the environment, civil rights and public health, so it’s only appropriate that we also lead on addressing income inequality. It’s time to improve these workers’ standard of living, lift up families and boost the overall economy by gradually raising the minimum wage.”
SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, which is sponsoring the measure, surpassed the 366,000 signatures needed to qualify the initiative and plans to collect an additional 235,000 that must be submitted to the California Secretary of State’s office before Jan. 27, 2016. Newsom joins other high-ranking state leaders who have endorsed the measure, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who are co-chairs of the initiative campaign, state Controller Betty Yee, and more than a hundred businesses and organizations across the state.
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 $9 an hour and is set to rise to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.
According to a recent Field Poll, 68 percent of registered California voters support the initiative. 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.
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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 The Fairness Project and Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West.