The San Jose Minimum Wage Campaign Story

shortlink here:  http://wp.me/p2w2NH-zW

Gabriel Thompson in the Nation on the San Jose Minimum Wage Story

below are some brief sentences extracted from the full story that can be found here:

http://www.thenation.com/article/171510/how-students-san-jose-raised-minimum-wage#
In the spring of 2011, students in a sociology class at San Jose State University got together to brainstorm ways to make the world a better place. The course they were taking, Social Action, focused on theory and history while also encouraging students to “apply social change to the local community.” For Marisela Castro, a junior, the promise of action was precisely what she was looking for, and she already knew the issue she’d champion. She was on a mission to raise the minimum wage.

Like many students at San Jose State, Castro came from a household where low wages weren’t an abstract injustice. Her parents had labored in California’s fields, and Castro was putting in long hours at an after-school program to help pay for college. At work she kept seeing kids swipe extra snacks because food was running low at home. “Their parents were working nonstop but only making the minimum wage,” she tells me.

Castro knew that San Francisco had raised its minimum wage in 2003 and saw no reason San Jose couldn’t do the same. She pitched the idea, and two other students joined her group, mapping out a plan.

Professor Scott Myers-Lipton, who teaches the Social Action course, estimates that 80 percent of his students work at least thirty hours a week.

As more students got involved, Myers-Lipton discussed the project with Cindy Chavez, leader of the South Bay Labor Council, which represents more than ninety unions.

The Labor Council grew more excited. “I went to my board and said that there was this opportunity to partner with a diverse group of young people who are trying to raise the minimum wage,” explains Chavez. She said they needed $20,000 to start. Unions pledged that amount in three minutes. By the end of the meeting, they’d committed another $100,000.

To qualify for the November ballot, the campaign needed to turn in nearly 20,000 signatures. In a five-week period, with help from the Labor Council, it collected 36,000

 

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