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Labor Group Demands California $20 Fast Food Minimum Wage Extend To All Sectors

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Workers have been pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage for more than a decade. Minimum wage was raised to $7.25 in 2008, and despite multiple pushes from various groups over the years since, it has not raised beyond that level when it comes to federal law.

Raising the Federal Minimum Wage

Many people have used the federal minimum wage as a talking point when discussing the unequal distribution of wealth in America and the ever-increasing wealth gap. According to many liberal groups, wealthy people have continued to get tax cuts and other perks to help them increase their wealth in the last fifteen years, but the middle class has been given the shaft.

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In a lot of ways, that sentiment is true. Minimum wage is merely one factor of the economy, but it’s a dire one when taking into account other modern factors. Rising costs of groceries, gas, and housing have all contributed to creating a starvation class in America, where people are spending all the money they have on mere necessities, without any extra left over to stimulate the economy further.

Cost of Housing is a Factor

The issue has become a significant problem, particular when discussing the cost of housing. There is not one city in the United States where a single worker would be able to afford a rent or mortgage working full time on federal minimum wage, and worker’s rights advocates have used this point multiple times when arguing for raising the minimum wage.

Source: Pexels/Mike Bird

Unfortunately, efforts to raise the federal minimum wage have been blocked multiple times. The call for $15 an hour for the federal minimum has been going on for so long that it is no longer a living wage, as it was when advocates first started calling for it.

Using the Same Arguments Over and Over

Those in opposition to raising the minimum wage often return to the same arguments to vote against it. They claim that raising the minimum wage will raise inflation – which has already shot up astronomically – or that people won’t be able to afford food and gas if the minimum wage is raised because prices will increase too.

Source: Pexels/Kuncheek

This argument ignores the fact that inflation has continued to lift the cost of groceries, and that rent has continued to increase year over year in the absence of any meaningful renter protections. Everything else has gotten more expensive, but people aren’t being paid more in order to subsidize the increased costs.

Local Minimum Wages Are Often Higher

The other argument that’s made to advocate against raising the federal minimum wage is the fact that most states have raised their local minimum wages far beyond the $7.25 that’s legally required. Since the states are doing the work, federal politicians argue that raising the federal minimum wage is a moot point.

Source: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

There is some truth to the argument that different jurisdictions have a better idea of what their citizens need than the federal government. Different states have different cost of living needs, and more expensive states are often the ones that have raised their state minimum wage to keep up with inflation.

Expensive States Leading the Charge

This had led to states like Washington having a state minimum wage of more than $17 an hour, with some localities having a minimum even higher than that.

Source: Wikimedia/Christian Mehlführer

California, as always, is leading the charge in raising the minimum wage and pushing for livable policies for everyone, not just the wealthy. This is necessitated by the fact that California is one of the most expensive states to live in, in America, and if the state minimum wage had remained at the federal level, everyone would have left the state for greener, less expensive pastures.

Newsom Pushing the Minimum Wage Higher

Gavin Newsom, the current governor of the state and a staunch supporter of humanistic policies, has been an important ingredient in raising the minimum wage in California. He has pushed for policies that implement worker protections in industries where they’re weak, and has pushed various industries to do better by their employees.

Source: Wikimedia/Office of the California Governor

Most recently, in pursuit of this, Newsom signed a new bill into law that raised the minimum wage to $20 an hour for qualifying fast food workers. He did this to help an industry that is often overlooked and looked down on by other industries, despite the fact that food service is an important segment of the economy.

A Raise Earlier in the Month

The bill, AB 1228, was signed into law last September and went into effect earlier this month. After it was signed, restaurant workers and other industry insiders warned that such a drastic increase in labor costs would have a detrimental effect on small businesses as well as the cost of food and eating out.

Source: Wikimedia/Government of California

These are the same arguments that have been made against raising the minimum wage for years. Opponents always cry that people having more money will make prices higher, but the truth of the matter is that prices will continue to rise, and the only people who benefit from minimum wages remaining low are corporations.

Only the Beginning

Raising the minimum wage for one industry was only the first step, though. A fair wage advocacy group in California is now pushing for the new $20 minimum wage for fast food workers to be extended to all sectors to help working-class people who are struggling with the state’s high cost of living.

Source: Wikimedia/Government of California

Saru Jayaraman, the president of One Fair Wage, discussed the skyrocketing levels of home insecurity and food insecurity in the state as the reason behind the minimum wage push, particularly as the country has recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.

California Suffering Particularly Intensely

The squeeze has been felt particularly intensely in California, according to Jayaraman. According to her, there are some counties in the Golden State where an individual would need to make a $40 an hour salary in order to live comfortably.

Source: Wikimedia/Downtown Los Angeles

“People are leaving the state or are not having children, not having families. These are all the very basics we should be thinking about for humans living in California and needing to survive,” she said. “I mean, the level of crisis that people have been enduring since the pandemic is severe.”

There Won’t Be “Massive Job Losses”

In response to the claims that there would be “massive layoffs” and “massive job losses” due to the increased minimum wage, Jayaraman dismissed the theory outright.

Source: Wikimedia/Dirk Hansen

“That is the argument they always make. Every single time the minimum wage goes up, they always say it’s going to kill business, jobs will be lost, and we’ve never seen it happen. Not in California, not in any other state. It has never happened.”

Necessary For Stimulating the Economy

Jayaraman is also the Director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. She went on to argue that raising the minimum wage would put more money into workers’ pockets, who then in turn spend their extra earnings, stimulating the economy and growing industries.

Source: Wikimedia/Government of California

She also argued against the idea that minimum wage hikes would pass prices onto consumers. “Frankly, inflation has already happened, and many prices have already gone up. Grocery store prices have already gone up. And so, it’s not a matter of ‘we can’t raise wages anymore because prices might go up,’” she said.

Small Businesses Leading the Way

Jayaraman also pointed out that small businesses have been “leading the way” when it comes to offering more money for their employees.

Source: Wikimedia/Dllu

“They have joined forces with us to say ‘we really need a policy that’s going to create a level playing field so that we’re not sticking our necks out.’ You need policy to signal to these workers it’s worth working in restaurants again.”

The Fight to Raise the Federal Minimum

The fight for a living wage is one that Democrats have staked their platform on, and it’s a winning argument with many younger voters. Gen Z and younger Millennials have listed living wages and affordability of housing as one of the issues that they’re most passionate about, and Democrats in liberal states are capitalizing on that political goodwill.

Source: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

Pushing that goodwill up to the federal level is the next step. It’ll be a hard push, but states like California are showing that not only is it possible to give workers a living wage without crashing the economy, but it’s good and necessary too.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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