[Feb. 2, 2016] LOS ANGELES – U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) lined up 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 workers statewide, including 400,000 in Orange County.
“There’s no question that the current minimum wage is not enough for workers in California to pay for rent, food, transportation and clothing,” said Sanchez, who is running for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. “Considering the high cost of living in California, we can’t expect full-time workers – especially those with children – to survive on less than $21,000 a year. By raising the minimum wage over time, it improves workers’ lives and gives businesses plenty of time to adjust.”
SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, which is sponsoring the ballot initiative, submitted more than 600,000 voter signatures to elections officials across the state last month to qualify the measure for the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot. Election officials have until around March 7 to review the signatures and verify if the initiative qualifies for the ballot.
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 $10 an hour.
The initiative also has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro), California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Controller Betty Yee, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who serve as co-chairs of the initiative effort, and 15 California state legislators. In addition, more than 250 labor and community organizations and other elected officials from across the state support the measure.
According to a Field Poll from last year, 68 percent of registered California voters support the initiative.