30+ low-wage workers testify to impact of economic inequality at inaugural convening of San Diego County Wage Board

SAN DIEGO – October 17, 2015 – Inspired by the decision of a fast-food Wage Board in New York to raise pay to $15 an hour for 200,000 low-wage workers across the state, San Diego County’s Wage Board convened the first public hearing to examine the impact of low wages on economic inequality in the region.

The meeting began with a presentation by the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI) highlighting the fact that more than a third of local San Diego County families can’t afford to make basic ends meet. CPI’s presentation also included insight about future that San Diego’s job market, noting the jobs that will be hiring the most workers between now and 2022 will be predominantly low-wage jobs.

Following CPI’s presentation, 30+ local workers provided testimony to the Board, including fast food worker Cymone Filmore, who testified that “My husband is sick, and sometimes I can’t afford to buy him medicine. My daughter is in school, and sometimes I can’t afford to buy her pencils or notebooks. This should not be the story of someone who works for a $5 billion corporation like Burger King.”

“I care for a 72-year-old woman – preparing her meals, cleaning her home, attending her doctors’ appointments. I do all this to ensure that she can live at home healthy and safe, and independent,” home care provider Michelle Wise added “This is the right thing to do, because so many of us are making poverty level wages, and too many people are working hard to support their families without a fair wage and a way to get ahead.”

Following the testimony, the Wage Board voted unanimously to take three steps towards raising wages in the region. “As representatives of the business, faith, education and labor communities, we pledge to work to increase the minimum wage next June to $11.50, to work to pass a $15 state minimum wage in California in November and to support all workers who are fighting to improve their lives and the lives of their families by organizing strong unions at their workplaces,” outlined Board Chair Richard Barrera.

The Wage Board released the following statement this afternoon:

“Poverty wages have caused sweeping economic inequality in our region.

We heard from numerous workers today who are being forced to make impossible choices between paying the rent and putting food on the table to feed their families. The fact that nearly a quarter of San Diego County’s working families are unable to make ends meet is unconscionable and must be remedied.

The national fight for $15 is about putting enough money in the pockets of working families to grow our economy and invest in our communities. $15 is the new baseline for service jobs in a wide array of industries across the United States. New York State passed $15 for fast-food workers statewide. Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles all passed $15. Home care workers in Massachusetts won $15.

The business owners, faith leaders, workers and community members here today agree that the San Diego region needs to be the next to raise wages – the future of our workforce and our economy depends on it.

We will stand together with San Diego County workers as they continue to beat the drum of $15 at the bargaining table and at the ballot box until every single person who works full-time for a living can provide the basic needs for their families.

It’s time to give San Diego a raise.”

San Diego Wage Board members include: Richard Barrera, secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Mel Katz, businessman and former chairman for the San Diego Workforce Partnership, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Convention Center; Sister Justine Church of Medical Mission Sisters and Dr. Kelly Mayhew, San Diego City College professor.


MEDIA CONTACT: Samantha Peterson | (619) 309-8169 |

© 2014 San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council
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