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New Ballot Initiative Filed to Raise California Minimum Wage to $15

A ballot initiative was filed Tuesday to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour. Credit: cohdra/morguefile
A ballot initiative was filed Tuesday to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour. Credit: cohdra/morguefile
November 4, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Fight for 15 movement is taking its case to the voters, filing on Tuesday to put a measure on the ballot to raise California's minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15 by 2020.

Supporters say it would help 3.3 million low-wage workers in the state. Alma Hernandez, political director for the Service Employees International Union, which is sponsoring the initiative, said that with the high cost of living in the Golden State, it's impossible to support a family on $9 an hour.

"What you see in many homes across California," she said, "is you have families living two to three families in a home, in an apartment, just to be able to make ends meet."

The measure would require businesses with more than 26 employees to start paying $12 an hour by July 2017 and gradually move up to $15 by July 2020 - and they'd have to give full-time workers at least six paid sick days a year. Smaller businesses would have to start paying $10.10 an hour in 2017 and move up to $15 by July 2021.

Opponents of the minimum wage said it burdens employers and forces them to cut jobs, but Hernandez said that hasn't been borne out in places such as San Francisco that already have upped the minimum wage.

"That's actually the reason why we're going directly to the voters," she said, "is that they see through the fear tactics that the other side employs. They all see prices around them continuing to increase and their wages continuing to remain stagnant."

Backers say they plan to start collecting signatures in January. Meanwhile a similar ballot initiative that was filed earlier this year already has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. That measure does not include the sick-day provisions.

The initiative is online at raisewageca.org.

Suzanne Potter/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - CA