[March 31, 2016] OAKLAND, Calif. – California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom joined healthcare workers today from SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) in hailing the passage of historic legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15.
Newsom was an early backer of SEIU-UHW’s $15 minimum wage initiative that qualified last week for the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot. Gov. Jerry Brown cited the “specter of the initiative” as a driving force behind the minimum wage legislation approved today.
“This is a great day for California’s low-wage workers and their families, and I applaud SEIU-UHW’s leadership role helping make this happen,” said Newsom. “Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators have stepped up to the plate on behalf of working people to make California the national leader for economic equality.”
Members of SEIU-UHW said they would discuss the future of their minimum wage initiative after the governor signs the bill. The union’s executive board meets May 3-5 in Sacramento and will consider then whether to continue with the initiative, called the Fair Wage Act of 2016, or withdraw it from the ballot. The initiative would have to be withdrawn by June 30.
“We are excited about the legislature’s strong support for raising the minimum wage, and assuming the governor signs it into law, we will then thoroughly review it at our next meeting,” said Georgette Bradford, an ultrasound technician from Sacramento and a member of the SEIU-UHW executive board. “We are happy that the bill contains our main priorities: it raises the minimum wage to $15, it includes adjustments based on the cost of living, and it covers all workers.”
The seeds of this week’s swift passage of the minimum wage legislation were sown in April 2015 when SEIU-UHW members filed a $15 minimum wage ballot initiative and collected the necessary signatures to qualify it for the November 2016 ballot. The measure gained the support of more than 300 community organizations, labor unions, faith leaders and elected officials such as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who served as campaign co-chairs, and Newsom and California State Controller Betty Yee.
Raising the minimum wage will help more than 3.3 million workers and their families, including 200,000 seniors, who do an honest day’s work but struggle to put food on the table. It will ensure workers like classroom aides, home health care workers, school janitors, and other hardworking people are paid enough to live on.
More than 90 percent of workers affected by the proposed minimum wage increase are adults, 20 years old or older, and half are over 30. More than 30 percent have children.