Protesters from the "Fight for 15" movement to boost minimum wages staged a series of events across San Diego on Tuesday (November 10) as part of a larger nationwide action taking place exactly a year before the next general election.
The group timed their events to reinforce the message that they'll be targeting what they believe could be a friendly electorate for politicians friendly to wage hikes and direct ballot measures on the issue.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer refused to sign a local minimum-wage hike brokered through the city council last year. Statewide, voters will have a chance next November to vote on the $15 minimum wage activists seek. San Diego voters in June will vote on a more modest $11.50 proposal. Both ballot measures include a provision for paid sick days — five per year in San Diego, six statewide.
"As a society, we expect people to work to earn a living. But even when they work full-time, many of these families are still relying on public assistance just to get by," says California Assembly member Shirley Weber. "These employees are frequently women supporting their families, who face huge financial challenges because of the wages, the unpredictable hours, and the inability to get time off without taking a huge financial hit."
The day began with protests outside fast-food restaurants downtown, with striking food-service workers distributing food to the area homeless population. Rallies were also staged by City College students on campus and a group of home healthcare workers at a different location, with all the groups and a large contingent of union-organized supporters converging on Civic Center Plaza late in the afternoon.
"A family in San Diego can't live on this minimum wage and Mayor Faulconer knows it," Assembly member and former labor organizer Lorena Gonzalez told the crowd. "Today is about showing him and all his boosters in the low-wage tourism and service industries that working families are awake, we're registered to vote, and we won't stop pushing until we achieve fair pay in every sector of our local economy."
According to pastor Shane Harris, local leader of Al Sharpton's National Action Network, a group of 500 volunteers were to begin lobbying the mayor's office via phone to demand a meeting to discuss wage issues and other problems confronting the city's low-income population, including discrimination and failures in housing-code enforcement.