A prominent California union submitted 600,000 signatures Tuesday in an effort to get its $15 minimum wage bill on the November ballot.
The Fair Wage Act of 2016 only required 366,000 to get on the ballot. The Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) sponsored the measure in the hopes of bringing the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021. It is also written to increase with inflation.
“This one is moving ahead, it’s farther along, it’s simpler, it benefits 3.3 million workers with no carveouts,” Union Spokesman Sean Wherley told KRON-TV. “This is the one that’s going ahead.”
At the moment no state has passed a $15 minimum wage, leaving the door open for California to be the first. A handful of cities in the state, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, have already enacted their own local version of the policy. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom joined SEIU-UHW and have both stated their support for the policy.
“Six hundred thousand signatures in just a few weeks,” Newsom said, according to the local affiliate ABC News. “Here we are in California, one of the most vibrant economies on planet earth, with more people living below the poverty line than any other state in our nation. We’ve got to step it up.”
SEIU California, a sister union, is pushing a separate $15 minimum wage proposal. Newsom has announced his support for both competing measures.
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, however, has already done a lot to push the policy in his own state. Cuomo unilaterally raised wages for those working in the fast-food industry, state university workers and state employees. He also introduced a bill Sept. 10 that will gradually bring the state minimum wage to $15 by 2021 if passed by the legislature.
Florida and Massachusetts are both also considering a $15 minimum wage as well. Seattle was the first city to pass a $15 minimum wage back in June 2014. Some city businesses have already reported problems because of the increase.
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