Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation that will raise the minimum wage to $10.50 in 2017, $11 in 2018, and another dollar per year reaching $15 an hour by 2022.
Once the dust settles, 5.6 million people are looking at significant lifestyle changes - for the better. According to a study by University of California Berkeley, almost 6 million people will see an average raise of 24%.
A raise in the minimum wage signals a shift in American perspective. Paying workers a living wage and granting them the ability to pay for their basic needs demonstrates the value of the working class. By refusing to pay workers a base wage that allows for a full time worker to afford his/her needs, the system not only devalues the working class, but strips them of their dignity.
Forecasters of political doomsdays are threatening catastrophic losses and costs to business owners. Some business owners are projecting hiring less workers because of increased labor costs and a recent legislative study that government salary wage increases will result in a $3.6 billion price tag for Californians is causing concern.
What America has lost track of, but California is thankfully revisiting, is the idea that the “cost of labor” is connected to actual human lives. Stresses on employers are the byproduct of realigning the value of the life behind that labor cost. Revisiting this takes a collective effort, taxpayers will need to pay for the wage raises of government workers making under $15. And Californians will see the collective advantages of a stronger economy based off of workers with higher spending power.
Patriotic Millionaires member and wife of Gelson’s food market founder, Ellyn Gelson runs a California business that has a long history of valuing workers. Since founding their business, Ellyn and her late husband Bernie have treated their employees with respect and dignity. Allowing for time off on holidays and higher wages set a standard at Gelson’s. Read more about the wonderful Gelson philosophy here.
California is on the cusp of setting an important precedent. This is an opportunity for California to reverse the institutionalized wage gap and give the working class a shot at being self-sustained again.
California Patriotic Millionaires sound off on the raise in their own words:
“People who give you their service - their time,their creative energy, and their sweat - deserve to be paid enough to support themselves and their families,” said Patriotic Millionaire Jerry Fiddler, CEO of Zygote Ventures.
"Raising the minimum wage puts more money into the hands of the consumers who drive our economy. It is a simple equation: higher wages equals increased consumer spending, which makes American businesses grow," said Patriotic Millionaire Brady Brim-Deforest, Founder of the International Academy of Web Television.
"New York and California will be a great place to start consumer oriented businesses if they get the minimum wage increase!" said Patriotic Millionaire Ryan Smith, Angel Investor.
"I'm a Californian who has lived and worked in New York. I am very proud of these two states as they prepare to adjust minimum wages for our working class. In both states and throughout the US, the economics of the last 30 years have inured to great benefit of the 1%, while leaving the middle class and the poor behind, losing ground. It's in everyone's best interest to stop this trend. Results will be seen in reduced need for "emergency" services to those in need, a safer and happier society, and also in improved opportunity for the wealthy. Studies increasingly show that economic growth is slowed after inequality rises to a certain level, and we are well above such levels now,” said Patriotic Millionaire Dale Walker, Vice Chairman Pacific Vision Foundation.
"We are proud to be from the State that leads the country in tackling income inequality by raising the minimum wage to a more reasonable level. It not only helps the people making that wage, but also helps all of us have a more robust economy as those dollars flow into our commerce," said Patriotic Millionaire Frank Jernigan, Former Senior Software Engineer at Google.
And Patriotic Millionaires from around the country:
“The Patriotic Millionaires appreciate the bold leadership shown on minimum wage. This is just the kind of economic thinking we need in this country because a $15 statewide minimum wage will improve the lives of wage-earners and positively impact the economy of the entire state. All businesses will be able to make more money when millions of their customers get raises, truly strengthening the economy. We look forward to the impact of the higher minimum wage in New York, in California, and hopefully in all the states between,” said Patriotic Millionaire Chair Morris Pearl, and former Managing Director of BlackRock.
“It’s a moral and economic imperative the minimum wage be raised to $15 per hour. The stock market and corporate profits are at all time highs. Top CEO salaries average 14 million a year. But some 10 million plus full time workers are in poverty. The workers will spend increased wages, not stash them in some overseas shelter!” said Patriotic Millionaire Fred Rotondaro, Chair of Catholics in Alliance for Common Good.
“Raising the minimum wage to a living wage is not political, it’s common sense,” said Patriotic Millionaire Dal LaMagna, CEO of IceStone.
“The low, unlivable minimum wage that exists now isn't working. Raising the minimum wage will create healthier, happier, more productive people,” said Patriotic Millionaire Lawrence Benenson, Principle at Benenson Capital Partners.
“I am sick and tired of business owners complaining that their business will not allow them to raise their employees’ wages to a level that they, the employees, can actually live on. What these business owners are really saying is that they don’t want to take the extra money out of their (the business owner’s) pockets to share with the people who are making them the money their business makes. Bottom line: Greed! What they don’t want to recognize is that they have created a situation that is forcing their employees to invest in the business that they own, but the employees get no investment return. Underpaid employees are subsidizing their companies in the form of low wages. I think it is a shame!” said Patriotic Millionaire Stephen Prince, CEO of Sterling Card Solutions.
“It’s far past time to discard once and for all the wrong-headed ‘trickle down’ theory of economics which has led to crushing income and wage inequality throughout the nation and here in New York State. It’s also far past time to return the State and the nation to fair progressive taxation. And it’s now time to couple these changes with a minimum wage – an ‘entry-level’ wage – which better matches the cost of living in our State,” said Patriotic Millionaire Leo Hindery, Jr., Managing Partner of Intermedia, “With the proposed entry-level wage of $15 per hour along with reform of the so-called ‘tip wage’, and with the concurrent effort to make permanent the ‘1% Plan for New York Tax Fairness’, I think we may have just gotten there!”