Thursday, October 20, 2005

More on fair wages

The initiative has been filed. This press release from the GPCA should show up on the state website in a few days. You can read it here first:
Green Party of California first to endorse initiative to dramatically increase state minimum wage to help ‘working poor'

SACRAMENTO (October 20, 2005) – An initiative filed this week to dramatically raise the state's hourly minimum wage – to as much as $8.75 from the current $6.75 within three years – has been endorsed by the Green Party of California. The "California Fair Wage Initiative" would appear on the November 2006 ballot.

Language for several versions of the initiative were officially filed earlier this week by representatives of Californians for Fair Wages (CFW), including Barry Hermanson, a Green Party Assembly candidate in San Francisco and Pat Driscoll, former Green congressional candidate from Sacramento.

A coalition of social justice and labor representatives formed CFW following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto – for the second year in a row – of a modest proposal to raise the hourly minimum wage to a modest $7.75 in two years.

The minimum wage – despite significant increases [in the cost of] housing, food and energy – has not been raised since 2002. To equal, in purchasing power, the state minimum wage paid in 1968, the state's lowest-paid workers would have to earn about $9.50 an hour today. California [has] the lowest minimum wage in the West.

One version of the initiative – the final version won't be decided upon until December – would raise the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour over three years, with an annual cost of living increase (COLA) automatically included to keep pace with inflation. A second version raises the minimum hourly wage to $7.75 an hour in two years, with a COLA. This version also would add one-half of the annual COLA to allow workers to recover purchasing power lost over the past 35 years.

"We believe this initiative, whatever the final language will be, is not nearly enough for our minimum wage workers. But, it is a much more progressive step than what has been taken by either the governor [or] the Legislature. It's a fair initiative, for workers, for business and for California," said Driscoll, a GPCA official spokesperson and treasurer for CFW.


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