Updated: Jul 24, 2022
I follow Joe Sanberg on Twitter so I’m up to date on the ins and outs of the struggle for a fair minimum wage. His current pinned tweet notes that the average cost of a Big Mac in New Hampshire, which has $7.25 minimum wage is $4.83, while the average cost of a Big Mac in Washington state, which has a $14.49 minimum wage is $4.67. He concludes that “The minimum wage in Washington is DOUBLE of New Hampshire, and yet a burger is still cheaper. Raising wages doesn't mean inflation has to happen.” This morning, Sanberg wrote that “Structural wage theft is baked into our politics and economy. If the minimum wage had increased at the rate of productivity since 1960 it would be $25 today. Instead, Washington elites have chosen to keep it at a starvation wage of $7.25 for 13 years. That is class war.”
Obviously, he knows it should be $25 an hour… but the new California voter initiative he’s been working on, only calls for a gradual increase— $16 (from $15) next year and $18 by 2025. $18 an hour is the figure that the overwhelming number of California voters, over two-thirds— are behind and over a million voters signed the petitions to put it on the ballot in November.
Yesterday however, one of the illegitimate ideologues Trump nominated for the federal bench (but who wasn’t confirmed), Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles— at the behest of lobbyist giants the California Restaurant Association and the California Business Roundtable— ruled the initiative can’t go on the ballot. The California Secretary of State, Shirley Weber, inadvertently (stupidly) sent the county officials the wrong information for counting deadlines so the initiative didn't technically qualify for November and Sanberg was suing her.
This morning, writing for CommonDreams.org, Jake Johnson reported that “Campaigners pointed out Friday that Arguelles is the same judge who granted a months-long signature-gathering extension to proponents of a failed effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom last year… ‘Though he saw fit to offer right-wing extremists a three-month extension to recall our governor, he declined to give voters an opportunity to pass a measure that would lift working people out of poverty,’ Sanberg, U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA), and UNITE HERE Local 11 co-president Ada Briceño said in a joint statement Friday. ‘This gross double standard is wildly unethical,’ they added. ‘But the conservative tilt of one courtroom will not stop us from doing what is right for Californians. The people are on our side. Raising the minimum wage is not a partisan issue— it is wildly popular among voters. Recent polling shows that more than two-thirds of voters support an $18 minimum wage.’”
California's minimum wage is currently $14 an hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees and $15 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees. MIT's Living Wage Calculator estimates that an adult with one child would have to make at least $44.18 an hour working full-time to meet essential needs in the state, where housing costs and other expenses are high and rising.
According to an analysis by Michael Reich, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, the Living Wage Act of 2022 (LWA) would have raised pay for roughly 4.8 million California workers by 2025 while having a "minimal effect on the number of jobs."
"The LWA would also restore inflation-generated losses in worker purchasing power caused by gaps in current laws, while increasing overall prices about 0.014 percent per year for three years," Reich found. "Equally important, increasing the state's minimum wage to $18 would eliminate poverty among all the 3.53 million non-elderly Californians in poor working households."
In their statement on Friday, Sanberg, Barragán, and Briceño lamented that "today, a Trump-nominated judge ruled against 5 million Californians."
While the initiative has formally qualified for the November 2024 ballot, the campaigners argued that "workers cannot wait another two years for a raise."
"They are barely earning enough to afford next month's rent," said Sanberg, Barragán, and Briceño. "As the cost of living in the Golden State continues to skyrocket, it is vitally important that our state leaders step up to the plate and fight for those Californians living on the bleeding edge of poverty."
"We move forward in the fight for a state where one job is enough to get by," they continued. "Tomorrow, we will begin pursuing alternative, legislative paths to pursue this essential increase to California's minimum wage. We encourage longtime supporters of working people, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, to join us as we accelerate our work to deliver on this moral imperative."