Awake and registered to vote

Protesters vow to steer minimum-wage issue to the ballot box

Minimum-wage protesters downtown, November 10, 2015
  • Minimum-wage protesters downtown, November 10, 2015

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.

Lorena Gonzalez

Lorena Gonzalez

"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.

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An increase to $10.50 / hr seems reasonable to me but I'm not so sure about $15 / hr.

A lot of this issue is directly a result of illegal immigration. 50 years ago landscaping, basic manual labor, and fast food jobs were largely done by teenagers or college students. They didn't expect to be able to raise a family by working at those jobs. Now those types of jobs are largely done by illegal immigrants (or formerly illegal immigrants) who see their minimum wage jobs as careers.

Even $15 an hour is barely a living wage in San Diego. Rents keep going up. The reality is that fast food jobs ARE longtime for many individuals. This is work that most of us will never do, just like picking fruit/vegetables, cleaning hotel rooms, and gardening. These are difficult, unpleasant jobs, so let's pay good wages to those who do them! If prices go up some, that's OK.

People who cannot afford to live here should move. They'll be better off somewhere with a lower cost of living, and we'll be better off with less crowding. It's ridiculous to claim that everyone has a right to live at the beach and it's society's job to make that happen.

Want more money? Learn to earn more. A burger flipper simply is not worth that much, and the kiosks are coming.

Nobody else has mentioned living at the beach, subsidized by "society." Here's a suggestion: Go work at a fast food restaurant for a week. Experience what it's like. Then come back and share.

jnojr's statement about subsidizing people to live at the beach is essentially correct. You can split hairs if you insist but San Diego County is much closer to the beach and much more expensive than many places - say Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, etc. Maybe living in, let's say, El Cajon isn't living at the beach but it's a heck of a lot closer to the beach and more expensive than living in Nebraska.

No, it's essentially nonsense. What this is about is paying more money to people to do the crappy jobs WE will not do. You and jnojr probably have no idea how many of these workers even GO to the beach, or care if they are close to the beach. The argument is specious.

You clearly don't understand the argument so let me state it differently. "the beach" really has nothing to do with the argument so stop bringing it up.

The point is that people who can't earn enough to pay their bills in San Diego could move to a place with a lower cost of living but similar wages - even for menial labor.

Stop talking about "the beach" it has absolutely nothing to do with the discussion.

It was jnojr who brought up "the beach" first, saying: "It's ridiculous to claim that everyone has a right to live at the beach and it's society's job to make that happen."

Why should I do that? I make more than an entire Taco Bell full of employees. I've learned some useful skills and have a couple of decades experience doing useful things. Why can't they emulate me instead of the other way around? I made minimum wage 25 years ago, but I left those days behind me a long, long time ago.

It's not about emulation. You should do that to learn a little compassion and respect for those employees who have not been as fortunate as you in earning lots of money. It's about "walking a mile in that person's shoes" to gain better perspective.

New college classes - 3 units each + lab:

Burger Browning 101 Burrito Rolling 102 Lettuce Hand-leafing 302 Condiment Package Handling 201 Shake Making 202 French Fry Artistry 202 Pizza Dough Rolling 103 Deep Fryer Safety 202

Conversational English - NOT REQUIRED

Best to leave the satire to Walter Mencken.

If the minimum wage were indexed to inflation it would currently be at $15 an hour but other wages are not indexed to inflation so in effect the minimum wage would catch up to and pass many non minimum wage jobs. What then? To be fair all wages would have to be indexed to inflation. For the most part many employers want a low minimum wage so those who pay $10 or $12 an hour can look like they are paying their employees way above minimum wage. A bus driver makes $15 an hour (MTD) so their wages would go from $7 an hour above minimum wage to minimum wage. Just won't work

According to these data minimum wage in 2012 dollars has ranged from about $5.91 / hr to $10.34 / hr

What data do you base your claim "If the minimum wage were indexed to inflation it would currently be at $15 an hour" on?

In 1964 the minimum wage was $1.25 and a gallon of gas was $0.25 therefore you could buy five gallons of gas for one hours work. Today the Federal minimum wage is $7.25 and that buys you little over two gallons of gas. Based on real inflation to by 5 gallons of gas with one hours pay you would need to make $17.50 an hour. While some things we buy are cheaper the cost vs. wages of almost everything has risen much faster than any wages especially minimum wage.

Back in 1964, 20 years after the introduction of the Black & White television, the 26″ color TV debuted at the World Fair for $379 (the current equivalent of $2849). Today a decent TV between 40 or 50 inches is about $259 at BestBuy.

According to, apartment rentals in NYC during the 1960s: Average Rent: $200. But it said many apts. were available at $100 or less. Now? 2010s Average Rent: $3,800. So if you could now make $15/hr. in NYC, you'd still be below the poverty level, and unable to rent anywhere close.

You do have some valid points there. The CPI tends to be a flawed indicator of inflation and I think that's what the data I posted were based on. I'm going to look into this a little more - I'm not quite sure exactly where I stand.

Back in the day, immensely rich business tycoons like Rockefeller and Carnegie (similar to many of our billionaires of today) were basically horrible bosses who exploited their workers. We remember those two old skinflints more favorably now only because they competed later to see who could give away the most money for the public good. Carnegie built libraries, and Rockefeller gave to universities and hospitals. Today, of course, both would be screaming about paying anyone $15 an hour (as if that's a lot of money). "Fight for 15" is a good movement to happen in the US.

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