UPDATE: Eureka, CA: On Thursday afternoon, February 7th, the “Fair Wage folks” submitted about 2,700 petition signatures to qualify the Eureka Fair Wage Act (aka Minimum Wage Ordinance) for the city ballot. This people’s initiative, if passed by voters, would raise the minimum wage from $8 to $12 for large employers to pay their workers in the city limits.
The Eureka Fair Wage Act will appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Eureka as the “Minimum Wage Ordinance.”
TWELVE DOLLARS AN HOUR MINIMUM WAGE Fair Wage Initiative Filed in Eureka California
Humboldt Co, CA: The Eureka Fair Wage Act, requiring large employers to pay a minimum of 12 dollars per hour, was filed and fees paid with the Eureka City Clerk’s office on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012.
Eureka residents active with Occupy Eureka, Veterans for Peace, Richardson Grove Action Now, PEOPLE PROJECT, and Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community, filed the Eureka Fair Wage Act due to prolonged wage stagnation, poverty levels highest in the state (1), and the recent invasion by Walmart, a company characterized by the Fair Wage Act proponents as “the most abusive and criminal retail outfit in the world.”
This has been a powerful week for working class people, Tuesday July 24th being a National Day of Action to raise the federal minimum wage followed by the Eureka Fair Wage Act being filed in northern California. Proponents anticipate false claims from large companies and politicians about how awful the raise in the minimum wage will be for working people, but extensive research shows that a weak minimum wage increases poverty and shatters families. According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), no minimum wage worker, at 40 hours a week, can afford a two bedroom rental at Fair Market Price. “Higher wages improve lives and boost the local economy,” says Eureka resident and Fair Wage proponent Bill Holmes.
The proponents took input from groups including the Humboldt/Del Norte Central Labor Council and the National Employment Law Project, and inspiration from similar efforts, successful around the state and country. Small businesses, employing less than 25 people, are exempt from the Eureka Fair Wage Act, and there will be a phase in time of 18 months for larger non-profits so they can adjust their grant funding.
Kimberly Starr, a volunteer with Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community and signatory to the initiative spoke to television cameras before the filing. “We know that this filing is a step toward uniting working class people in this area to stand up for ourselves, to insist on our DIGNITY, to build strong forces, to oppose predatory corporations like Walmart, and refuse to labor for the purpose of filling the CEO’s or the boss’s pockets and bank accounts, while we get next to nothing.”
James Decker, local activist and member of Occupy Eureka, U.S Air Force veteran and home healthcare worker declared after signing the initiative: “With the Fair Wage Act we are taking action to stop the flow of dollars … to Wall Street and the investment bankers, keeping these dollars here in the local community. We have targeted larger employers that have the ability to pay a fair wage. We are going to force the ‘Walmarts of the world’ to be good neighbors or go back to Arkansas.”
*Text of the proposed initiative, Eureka Fair Wage Act: https://www.box.com/s/3ad802141c0c0260f300
*Video of the statements made at the filing can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4r-XVemQxc&feature=youtu.be
*Photos from the filing available on request.
1 Humboldt County’s poverty level at 19.2% is seven points higher than the statewide average which is 12.4%, ranking Humboldt County as 56th poorest of 58 CA counties. While wages and employment are down, corporate profits are thriving.