Governor Veto Punches Working Families
Statement by California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski
“Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent veto of the minimum wage bill is taking the wind out of two million California Workers,” said Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation. The veto of Assembly Bill 2832 will inflict pain and hardship on over 2 million minimum wage workers in the state who need jobs with livable wages to pay for rent, groceries, and doctor’s bills. Millions of workers with wages just above the current minimum wage of $6.75 will be hurt as well – instead of seeing a rising tide to help all wo rkers they will see the further eroding of the purchasing power of their wages.
AB 2832 written by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber of Mountain View would have restored the eroding purchasing power of the minimum wage by increasing it $1.00 over two years. The state minimum wage is currently $6.75 per hour, which is not enough to keep up with the cost of living in California given skyrocketing housing and healthcare costs.
While worker productivity continues to climb in California and nationally, wages are not keeping up and employment growth consists mostly of poverty- level, part-time, and temporary jobs that do not support families or communities. Pulaski said, “The veto of the minimum wage shows that the governor is dashing the hopes of millions of low-wage citizens.”
Schwarzenegger is mimicking President George W. Bush by favoring the wealthy over the people of California. Polls show that 70% of the general public favors an increase in the minimum wage. Corporate interests opposing AB 2832, such as Wal-Mart and the California Restaurant Association, are some of the same special interests attempting to squash healthcare for workers and defeat Proposition 72 on the November ballot.
Pulaski said, “Governor Schwarzenegger said he wanted to create ‘fantastic jobs’ in California. This veto fails his promise. When someone must work two full- time jobs just to have an income above the poverty level, then something is wrong. AB 2832 would have gone a long way to fix this problem.”
According to a letter by nearly 50 prominent economists, the empirical evidence shows that raising the minimum wage in California has not hurt the state’s employment levels and would in fact reduce employee turnover and increase productivity.