Suzanne Potter/ California News Service
Tens of thousands of minimum-wage workers in California will be making an extra dollar an hour. The Golden State’s minimum-wage increased from $9 to $10 an hour on Jan. 1, But labor advocates plan to continue their push for $15 an hour.
Sean Wherley, senior communications specialist for the Service Employees International Union’s United Healthcare Workers West, said $10 just doesn’t cut it.
“At $10 an hour, that’s less than $21,000 a year for a full-time worker,” he said. “That’s barely enough to cover for yourself, much less if you have children. Particularly in coastal areas, but even throughout rural areas, that’s not enough to get by.”
Two different branches of SEIU are promoting separate ballot measures next November. One would raise the hourly wage to $15 by 2020 and mandate six paid days off for illness. The other would raise the wage by the same amount by 2021.
Critics of these measures have said they’d raise costs for small businesses and lead them to cut hours or jobs. Wherley countered that workers will have more money to spend, which benefits the economy overall. He said a statewide measure would level the playing field between cities.
“This is going to be uniformly applied, so no city can claim that one has an advantage over the other,” he said. “This is what is going to lift people into a better existence, one where they can provide for themselves and their families.”
San Francisco and Los Angeles already have passed $15 minimum hourly wages that go into effect in 2018 and 2020, respectively. The national minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
More information on existing minimum-wage laws is online at dir.ca.gov.