On the Minimum Wage Increase Effective January 1st
Statement by California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski
On January 1st, nearly two million California workers will finally get a pay raise. The state minimum wage will go up to 75 cents from $6.75 to $7.50 per hour. By 2008, the wage will go up to $8.00 per hour, making it the highest wage in the nation. Workers will enjoy an additional $1,560 in wages during 2007 alone. This is a victory for working people in California that was made possible by a tireless campaign by labor and community groups.
By passing a wage hike, California joins other states in sending a message to the Bush Administration and to corporate America that workers deserve a fair piece of the American pie for their rising productivity. Voters in four states passed initiatives to raise their minimum wages on Election Day 2006 and six state legislatures passed similar measures the past year.
In California, it took three years and a re-election campaign to convince Gov.
Schwarzenegger that $6.75 an hour is not enough to get by in our expensive state. Each year that Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed labor's minimum wage legislation, working families lost purchasing power. Because of the Governor's two years of vetoing raises the Legislature passed, working families were cheated out of $4,000 in wages.
While we are pleased that low-wage workers will receive a raise, we know it is not enough, especially with the heavy burden of health care costs pulling them down. We will continue to fight for long-term solutions for California's working poor, which must include indexing of the minimum wage. We are hopeful that this new year will bring changes to our state's health care system which will allow workers to live healthy and dignified lives.