Wins in cities paved way for CA’s minimum wage hike

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Source:   —  April 02, 2016, at 5:16 AM

While the move from distant worker dream to undeniable reality happened quickly, there were many tough local fights along the way that made it possible.

Wins in cities paved way for CA’s minimum wage hike

On Monday, to create CA the first state to lift its minimum wage to $15 an hour. While the move from distant worker dream to undeniable reality happened quickly, there were many tough local fights along the way that made it possible.

At the finish of two thousand twelve, striking fast-food and retail workers captured attention. The Service Employees International Union’s “Fight for $15” sparked a national movement. Calls for a $15 minimum wage took off in California. Coalitions of work unions, workers, community groups, tiny businesses, progressive elected executive and faith leaders built on the momentum to win wage increases in more than a dozen cities, laying the groundwork for state action.

The effort started in San Jose, where voters raised the minimum wage to $10 in two thousand-twelfth. By two thousand fourteen, Oakland passed a ballot measure to lift the minimum wage to $12.25, ensure paid ill leave and defend against wage theft and San Francisco voters passed the state’s first $15 minimum wage.

These successes created momentum for city councils to act in two thousand-fourteenth in San Diego and latest year in LA and Sacramento. These victories reverberated in neighboring cities, creating regional wage standards in Silicon Valley, the Bay area and the Los Angeles area.

These cities showed that increasing the minimum wage could work in practice. When cities continued to thrive, it shattered conservative arguments that wage hikes would devastate the economy.

Maybe more necessary than acting as a laboratory, city-level wins helped modify what was politically possible. With each victory, expectations and momentum grew. They served as a powerful reminder that when we stand up together, we can modify even the most entrenched views and give hope to those left behind by a rigged economy.

These powerful local coalitions worked with unions to thrust the Legislature to approve a $10 minimum wage and collected signatures to keep a $15 wage on the Nov ballot. This created an environment where few candidates for elected office would oppose raising wages.

Significantly, the power these cities are building extends to New York, Seattle and beyond. CA and NY are likely just the first of many states that'll soon be pushed to act by progressive cities.

As we celebrate our triumph in CA and leverage it to construct toward a national minimum wage increase, we should recollect that cities paved the way for success. The same lessons can be applied to other worker and community issues, if only we construct these movements from the ground up.

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