[March 28, 2016] OAKLAND, Calif. – Members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) said today that a plan by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2022 is a major step forward that could result in SEIU-UHW withdrawing its minimum wage ballot initiative, a decision that will be made if the plan ultimately becomes law.
The minimum wage proposal is the culmination of events that began 11 months ago when SEIU-UHW members filed a $15 minimum wage ballot initiative and collected the necessary signatures to qualify it for the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot. The issue was elevated early on when it drew the support of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who served as campaign co-chairs, California Attorney General Gavin Newsom, and California State Controller Betty Yee.
“We congratulate the governor and state legislative leaders for their vision and work to develop this proposal for a $15 minimum wage in California that will lift up millions of workers and their families who struggle to survive every day,” said Georgette Bradford, an ultrasound technician from Sacramento and a member of the SEIU-UHW executive board. “We also are proud of the pivotal role SEIU-UHW members have played in getting the issue to the forefront and we look forward to helping enact this historic legislation.”
If a new minimum wage law is passed and the governor signs it into law, the SEIU-UHW Executive Board will study the details and decide whether to withdraw its initiative, which on March 22 the California Secretary of State qualified for the November ballot.
“We all know it’s a long way from a proposal to a final measure that becomes law, so we don’t intend to take any action on our initiative until it is finalized,” said Ruby Olivas, a monitor technician from Monterey Park and a member of the SEIU-UHW executive board. “There are a lot of details to understand, particularly around the ‘pause button’ provisions. We made a sober and deliberate decision last April to file our initiative, and once all the details are known about the new law we will make a sober and deliberate decision on whether to withdraw it.”
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.
Raising the minimum wage also will help millions of children, many of whom go to bed hungry. Two million children live in poverty in California, more than any other state. And a higher minimum wage will particularly help women in California who make up more than half of minimum wage workers.
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.
A higher minimum wage also is good for California’s economy as workers spend their increased earnings at local businesses, and it will reduce reliance on government programs like Medi-Cal.