Victory for California Minimum Wage Workers

On September 12, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown agreed to approve Bill AB10, a bill expected to raise the current $8.25 hourly minimum wage rate in California to $10 by 2016 for the first time in six years. According to the Los Angeles Times, the bill passed through California legislature with the majority Democratic support. Although many Californians are nervous that this new bill will decrease employment opportunities, recent polls suggest that residents favor the higher pay roll.

For the past several years, fast food industry labor unions have constantly protested nationwide about the inaction of the federal and state governments. Labor unions feel that the government is responsible for providing adequate income opportunities for the nation’s growing service industries but are not acting to improve these conditions.

The increased wages are mainly targeted to aid the Californian families currently living under the federal poverty level. According to California Department of Health, a family of two qualifies for federal aid if its annual income is less than $30,000 per year; a full time employee working a minimum wage job currently earns approximately $16,000 per year.

However, with the raise, such employees will now earn a minimum of $4,000 more annually. Such increases can benefit not only underprivileged families to afford housing and education for their children but also working students to pay for the increasing costs of statewide tuition, student-loans and school supplies.

Minimum wage jobs in California are considered base jobs, such as nursing assistants, cashiers and especially food service positions. These jobs only allow workers to work their way up to higher paying jobs through constant work and promotions.

According to the United States Department of Labor, about 80% of 16 to 19 year olds are currently employed. With this new bill, currently employed high school students will have an easier time earning the money that they need for school supplies and basic necessities. Busy students can now work for less time and still make a good amount of money, leaving more time for school work and social activities.

When asked about the new bill, a group of college students attending University of California Irvine said they “were happy about it” and noted that the increase would be “helpful in buying healthier foods and new books for classes.” Although employed minors are looking forward to extra spending money for personal and academic needs, the increase will equally benefit adults who are struggling to provide for their families.

A UHS student currently living with his single mother working in a minimum wage job is “excited” and “hopeful” for this new bill and what “the extra money can bring for his family and education.”

Staff Writer