California Workers File Initiative to Win $15 Wage By 2020

For Immediate Release: November 3, 2015
Contact: Mike Roth, 916.444.7170
Maria Elena Jauregui, 818.355.5291 (Spanish Language Media)

November 2016 Statewide Ballot Measure Raises Minimum Wage to $15 by 2020 and Guarantees Paid Sick Days–Building on Victories from Los Angeles to Oakland

Sacramento, CA — Workers across California have hope for better wages and a better life for their families thanks to a new initiative filed today by Fight for $15 worker leaders and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California. The Raise California’s Wage and Paid Sick Days Act of 2016 is the only statewide initiative that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020 and guarantee that every full-time worker will receive at least 6 days per year to care for themselves and their families. Small businesses would have until 2021 to meet the $15 per hour minimum.

“The Fight for $15 isn’t about any one individual. It’s about the community standing together and saying we’ll all be better off with a stronger wage floor. Too many people aren’t making it on $9 an hour,” said Cymone Fillmore, a mother from San Diego and a fast food worker for three years who currently works at Wienerschnitzel. “I can’t make ends meet on the minimum wage we are getting paid. We need $15, and paid sick days, to meet the basic necessities for ourselves and our families. This initiative gives us hope that we can win the Fight for $15 to make the economy work for all Californians, not just the rich.

The ballot measure is the next step in the Fight for $15, a national movement that has won wage increases for 11 million workers nationwide and engaged millions of workers in pushing back against the economic inequality that is hurting our nation. The rapidly growing Fight for $15 began as a protest by 200 workers in New York City three years ago and has since mobilized millions of underpaid fast food workers, home care workers, childcare providers, and others to demand significant policy changes in response to the low wages and tough times they face. Anchoring support for the ballot measure campaign is SEIU California, representing over 700,000 workers in 15 local unions and a partner of the Fight for $15 in making California a leader in the national minimum wage movement.

“Raising the minimum wage would help me bring home more food for my family and pay all of my bills on time,” said Alaina Brooks, a home care provider from Los Angeles County. “This law would also mean that I will finally be able to take some time off when I’m sick to recuperate so I can continue caring for my brother without fear of him getting sick, too.”

Voters and elected officials have voted overwhelmingly to support the Fight for $15 efforts in areas including Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County, San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville and elsewhere. Local and regional coalitions around the state—of working people, people of faith, civic, activist, and small business organizations—have endorsed the Fight for $15.

“As child care providers for low-income families, we see more clearly than most how much of a struggle working families face,” said Tonia McMillian, a child care provider from Bellflower. “What’s more, I know this is the ballot measure I can trust because it’s led by people like me and the parents who rely on me to keep their kids safe and learning while they work in low-wage jobs.”

Hundreds of economists and civic leaders have endorsed the national Fight for $15. Economist Robert Reich recently wrote: ”People who work full time are fulfilling their most basic social responsibility. As such, they should earn enough to live on. A full-time worker with two kids needs at least $30,135 this year to be safely out of poverty. That’s $15 an hour for a forty-hour workweek. Any amount below this usually requires government make up the shortfall – using tax payments from the rest of us to finance food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance, and other kinds of help.”

“We believe that we will win. The people understand that it’s time for a $15 wage in California,” said Roxanne Sanchez, President of SEIU Local 1021.

Supporters of the proposal say they will launch a drive to gather qualifying signatures in early January, 2016 and will submit signatures to local registrars in April. Building on the strong organizing for the Fight for $15, the campaign is committed to focus on the power of everyday people and grassroots organizing.

Please visit to sign to assist in signature gathering or to contribute to the campaign.

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