My Word: We need Measure R Support the Eureka Fair Wage Act

Eureka Times-Standard Guest Opinion, posted online 9/4/14
printed in paper on 9/5/14, page A4

We need Measure R: Support the Eureka Fair Wage Act

By Verbena Lea

“Poverty level wages are not a gamble, they’re a guaranteed loss for the community” — Working Families Party.

Working people are ripped off by misguided public policy which claims that giving more money to the already-wealthy creates jobs. This policy fails us because it is based on a lie. When government fails to meet the community’s needs, the people come together to craft a solution.

The solution to poverty level wages is to raise them. Measure R, the Eureka Fair Wage Act, does just that. Larger employers will pay their workers a minimum of $12 an hour. Smaller businesses, those with 24 or fewer employees, can continue to pay the current state minimum of $9 an hour if they chose.

We have over seven decades of data about what happens when we raise the minimum wage. Employment and economic activity go up. Opportunities increase for everyone. In 2012, for example, San Jose residents raised the minimum wage for all workers $2 more an hour. Throughout the first year, unemployment dropped two points and 9,000 new businesses opened. Surrounding communities, including Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Berkeley, and Richmond, are raising wages to keep pace with the competitive, high-wage oasis that is San Jose.

Eureka needs Measure R.

Some believe that workers should be paid poverty wages for doing jobs of “unskilled labor,” even if their labor and time generate millions for their employers. First, there is no such thing as unskilled labor. Every person brings the skills of life experience, social interaction, and personal education to every task.

“When someone works for less pay than she can live on — when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently — then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The ‘working poor,’ as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.” — author Barbara Eherenreich.

The minimum wage was designed in 1938 — to alleviate poverty. Today, the minimum wage has lost so much buying power that families working full-time struggle to survive. When low-wage workers are paid more fairly, they will earn enough to live independent lives. They can save for their future and that of their children.

State and federal minimum wage increases are NOT indexed to inflation. Measure R is. If prices go up, wages will keep pace.

Since 1975, people receiving “fixed income” benefits have had yearly cost-of-living increases tied to the Consumer Price Index. Before 1975, they had to wait around until Congress decided it was time for an arbitrary increase. This is still the reality for minimum wage workers in this country. If you’re going to call anything a “fixed income,” let the historical record show that it is the wage of the low-paid worker. We are no longer waiting for legislators to address economic realities. Measure R will result in a fair wage that’s finally indexed to inflation. The cost of living is always rising, and that is not a reason to keep your neighbors living in poverty.

We need Measure R.

Low-wage workers spend their money here at home. Measure R means people can meet their needs and afford leisure activities: go out to dinner and a movie; listen to live local bands with a beverage down at Siren’s Song; take their children to the bouncy house at Bayshore Mall.

More money circulating through the hands of local workers, then passing through local businesses rather than corporate headquarters, is vital to rejuvenate Eureka’s economy.

Measure R is the right thing to do morally. Being paid a fair wage for your labor is what gives dignity to work. Measure R is the right thing to do fiscally. We live in a demand-driven economy; you can’t drive demand on poverty-level wages.

“Someday low-wage workers will rise up and demand to be treated fairly, and when that day comes everyone will be better off.” — Ehrenreich, “Nickel and Dimed.”

We need Measure R, the Eureka Fair Wage Act.  Demand Measure R.

Verbena Lea, one of the drafters of Measure R, resides in Eureka and submitted this “My Word” on behalf of the Fair Wage Folks, a committee of Measure R’s drafters and supporters.

 

The Fair Wage Folks to Eureka City Council, 6/17/14 [includes research links]

The passage of the Measure R, the Eureka Fair Wage Act, is essential to the future economic vitality of Eureka and this entire region.

Measure R, the Eureka Fair Wage Act, will raise the minimum wage.

Measure R is legally robust, is tailored to the needs of Eureka, and raising wages is a proven way to increase employment, build a strong and healthy economy, and benefit the lives of working people and their families.

Continue reading

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

 

San Jose minimum wage: A year-old success story

San Jose minimum wage: A year-old success story

By Scott Myers-Lipton and Patrick Quyo

Special to the Mercury News

Posted:   03/11/2014 10:00:00 AM PDT

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the implementation of the $10 minimum wage in San Jose.  The success of this minimum wage increase has major implications for other cities, states, and the nation.

Measure D was created by San Jose State students and supported by the South Bay Labor Council, Sacred Heart Community Service, and United Way Silicon Valley. It  was passed in November 2012 with the support of 60 percent of the electorate, and it was implemented 90 days later on March 11.

A year later, it is clear that raising San Jose’s minimum wage has been an incredible success. The data shows that under San Jose’s minimum wage, unemployment was reduced, the number of businesses grew, the number of minimum wage jobs expanded, average employee hours remained constant and the economy was stimulated.

The unemployment rate dropped in the San Jose metro area from 7.6 percent in February, 2013 to 5.8 percent in December, the last month available. Part of the reason for this almost two-point drop in unemployment is that the 40,000 minimum wage workers in San Jose have pumped more than $100 million into the local economy this past year, stimulating the economic growth of Silicon Valley.

The city reports that business is growing, with 84,000 businesses registered at the start of 2014 compared to 75,000 the previous year. Importantly, the leisure and hospitality industry — the sector that includes food services, and where many minimum wage employees work — experienced a net increase of 4,000 jobs in San Jose in 2013, according to the California Employment Development Department.

In the city center, the San Jose Downtown Association reports that businesses grew by 3 percent in the past year, with the retail sector, which includes restaurants, increasing to 19 percent of all downtown businesses, up from 15 percent in 2012.

read the entire article:  http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_25315215/san-jose-minimum-wage-year-old-success-story

1st ANNIVERSARY OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF $10 MINIMUM WAGE IN SAN JOSE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

Contacts:      •Elisha St. Laurent, SJSU Class of ’14, CAFÉ J,  (408) 438-8549,  elishastlaurent@gmail.com

•Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton, Professor, SJSU, (510) 508-5382, smlipton@sjsu.edu

1st ANNIVERSARY OF THE IMPLEMENTATION  OF $10 MINIMUM WAGE IN SAN JOSE

Leaders from Five Cities To Speak About “Raising the Wage”

SAN JOSE, CA – On Tuesday, March 11th at noon, the Campus Alliance for Economic Justice–the SJSU student group that developed and helped lead the Measure D campaign–will hold a press conference at the Tommie Smith and John Carlos statues to discuss the positive impact that the $2 minimum wage increase has brought to San Jose.  In addition, leaders from five California cities will speak about why they are leading efforts to raise the city-wide minimum wage in their communities (see attached flier).

The positive impact of the $2 increase in the minimum wage has been profound:

•The 40,000 minimum wage workers in San Jose have pumped over $100 million into the local economy since the implementation of Measure D, helping to stimulate the economic growth of Silicon Valley; •This economic stimulus has helped decrease the unemployment rate since the passage of Measure D, which has dropped in the San Jose metro area from 7.6% in February, 2013 to 5.8% in December, 2013 (the last month available);*

•The City of San Jose reports that overall businesses growth is up 4.9% in San Jose, with 84,000 businesses registered at the start of 2014 in comparison to 75,000 in the previous year.  In the leisure and hospitality industry, a sector that includes food services, there was a net increase of 4,000 jobs in San Jose in 2013 according to the California Employment Development Department; ** •The San Jose Downtown Association reports that businesses grew by 3% in the past year, with the retail sector, which includes restaurants, increasing to 19% of all downtown businesses, up from 15% in 2012; *** •Lastly, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of hours worked on average in 2013 in the San Jose metro area is nearly the exact amount as they were in 2012 (36.5 vs. 36.9 hours). ****

As a result of these positive results, the idea to “raise the wage” has spread to other California cities hoping to repeat what San Jose, as well as San Francisco, has accomplished.  At the press conference, leaders from five cities (i.e., Berkeley, Davis, Eureka, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale) working to raise the minimum wage will speak about the conditions that caused them to put forward a city-wide minimum wage increase, and the current status of their campaigns. •11:30 am: Opportunity to speak to community leaders from five cities •12 pm:  Press conference begins

####

* http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LAUMT064194000000003?data_tool=XGtable  ** http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Reality-Check-Minimum-Wage-One-Year-Later-244821391.html; http://www.calmis.ca.gov/file/lfmonth/sjos$pds.pdf

*** http://www.calmis.ca.gov/file/lfmonth/sjos$pds.pdf

**** http://bls.gov/web/laus/tabled6.pdf

Eureka’s Fair Wage Folks To Speak At San Jose State University

Eureka’s Fair Wage Folks To Speak At San Jose State University

shortlink here:  http://wp.me/p2w2NH-v9 mnemonic link here:  http://urlet.com/operated.air

March 11th Marks The Year Anniversary Of San Jose’s Successful $10 Minimum Wage Measure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 5, 2014
Contact: James Decker (707) 761-5247, info@fairwages.org

Eureka, CA: Proponents of the Eureka Fair Wage Act, or Minimum Wage Ordinance (November 2014 City ballot), will speak at the 1-year anniversary of San Jose’s Measure D, which raised the minimum wage in the City of San Jose to $10 an hour. The anniversary press conference and celebration will be held on Tuesday March 11th at noon on the campus of San Jose State University at the Smith and Carlos Statue. The Fair Wage Folks will join speakers from the minimum wage movement in seven other California cities, talking about their local campaigns to raise wages. San Jose’s workers and economy have experienced positive impacts from Measure D’s higher minimum wage. The Fair Wage Folks are excited to be part of this historic California movement and invite local media outlets to document the March 11 event.

The Eureka Fair Wage Act is a people’s initiative, as was Measure D in San Jose, and will require employers with 25 or more workers in the Eureka city limits to pay a twelve dollar minimum wage.

Article on the history of San Jose’s student-led Measure D:
http://www.thenation.com/blog/167429/student-activism-tip-spear-raising-minimum-wage-san-jose

The public and press are welcome to contact The Fair Wage Folks (707) 442-7465 , info@fairwages.org

and the San Jose Campus Alliance for Economic Justice elishastlaurent@gmail.com

Flier for March 11 anniversary event attached.

San Jose Press Event flyer

San Jose Pizza Restaurant Owner Likes the Higher Minimum Wage

Friday marked six months since San Jose raised its minimum wage from $8 to $10 an hour.

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/10/11/restaurateur-explains-why-hes-happy-with-sjs-increased-minimum-wage/

“It’s worked out fine, customers have not had a problem and our bottom line is the same.”

He also credits the boost in minimum wage pay with keeping employees happy.

“It really was a win because now we’re not getting as much turnover and happy employees mean happy customers.”