What began as a class project has turned into a formal effort to get an initiative on the November ballot that would raise the minimum wage in San Jose by 25 percent, from $8 to $10 an hour. Students from a San Jose State University sociology class decided wages for working people in San Jose weren’t covering even the minimum needs, and they took the project into the real world.
Leila McCabe is a senior who was in Scott Myers-Lipton's Social Action class last semester and has worked several low-paying jobs. She told the San Jose Mercury News:
We're all struggling with paying rent and bills. To find out San Jose is behind in paying people better wages was a shock to us.
San Jose already has a “living wage” policy that requires businesses that contract with the city to pay workers at least $13.59 an hour, or $14.84 an hour if they do not provide health insurance. This new initiative would take things a giant step further to cover everyone who works in San Jose.
Cindy Chavez, Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council:
Working people in San Jose desperately need higher wages. It's great to see San Jose State students take on this campaign.
Students filed paperwork with the city of San Jose last week, and the city just approved it for circulation. Next week, they will begin work to gather more than 19,000 signatures needed to get the measure on the November 2012 ballot. The students have six months to collect the signatures they need, but they plan on finishing by mid-May.