Wage Increase Tightens Weave of California’s Social Fabric, Governor Says

California’s minimum hourly wage will rise from $8 to $10 between now and January 1, 2016 under legislation signed Sept. 25 in Oakland by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Restaurant owners and other businesses decried the increase, saying it would boost their bottom line and dampen economic growth.

In Los Angeles prior to the Bay Area bill signing, the Democratic governor portrayed the $2 increase as an agent of social change.

“It’s my goal and it’s my moral responsibility to do what I can to make our society more harmonious, to make our social fabric tighter and closer and to work toward a solidarity that every day appears to become more distant.”

The press release from Brown’s office does not elaborate on how boosting the minimum wage by $1 on July 1, 2014 and another $1 on January 1, 2016 will accomplish Brown’s goal.

Brown was more prosaic on Sept. 11 when he announced his support for a wage increase:images-3

“The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs,” he said in a prepared statement. “This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”

More than 90 percent of minimum wage workers in California are over the age of 20 and 25 percent of California children – nearly 2.4 million – live in a household with one minimum wage-earning parent, the same press release notes.

Legislation isn’t necessary to boost the state’s minimum wage.

Normally that could be done – as it was under previous administrations – by the Industrial Welfare Commission within the state Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

However, the commission’s website says it’s “currently not in operation.”

Of Brown’s signature on the wage increase bill, Assembly Speaker John Pérez, a Los Angeles Democrat, says this:

“Working people will see significant relief and … California’s economy (will) continue to outshine the rest of the nation.

“This is money that will be spent in California, on things like school supplies and groceries, ultimately putting more than $2 billion dollars back into our economy annually while giving workers a significant $4,000 increase in their wages.”

Adds State Superintendent of Public instruction Tom Torlakson:

“Raising the minimum wage in California means making it just a little bit easier for families to make ends meet – and what’s good for families is good for children. In our schools, we strive to reach and teach the ‘whole child,’ a phrase and philosophy that have taken on new meaning in this harsh economy.

 “A child who hasn’t had a decent meal or a good night’s sleep isn’t poised to learn to his or her full potential. Raising the minimum wage helps open doors for children and their future. That’s good for all of us, and I applaud the Governor and Legislature for taking this important step for California.”



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