Calif. Wage Hike Shows Strength of Unions


The Teamster-backed Fight for $15 campaign enjoyed its largest victory to date yesterday when California Gov. Jerry Brown announced he had reached a deal with the Legislature to increase the state’s minimum wage to the standard by 2022.

While the push to raise the salary floor to $15 had resulted in victories in about a dozen cities thus far, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed such a minimum wage in the Empire State, California became the first state to reach such an agreement thus far. The salary hike will boost wages of about 6.5 million Golden State residents – or 43 percent of workers statewide. Teamsters International Vice President Rome Aloise joined Gov. Brown at the announcement of the deal.

The governor said the move to increase the minimum wage was an important one. “California is proving once again that it can get things done and help people get ahead,” he said. “This plan raises the minimum wage in a careful and responsible way.”

For years, workers from coast-to-coast have taken to the streets to sound off on unfair wages. Just last November, under the banner “Come Get My Vote,” workers from different industries and occupations walked off the job in 270 cities nationwide, and rallied outside city halls in support of the “Fight for $15” movement.

Teamsters at scores of locations handed out leaflets near FedEx Freight terminals, supporting the drivers in their fight for fair wages and good benefits, including affordable health care. And at ports in Los Angeles/Long Beach; Savannah, Georgia; and Newark, N.J., port drivers stood up in their fight to end misclassification and wage theft.

While corporations were banking record profits in recent years, millions of workers were being left behind. This lead to a growth in income inequality that made it increasingly difficult for workers to provide for their families, even as unemployment dropped nationwide.

Workers, however, are now seeing what happens when they stand together. And if they continue to do so, it will only grow from here.