Gov. Jerry Brown Signs $15 Minimum Wage Bill Into Law For California
The mood inside the auditorium downtown (broadcast on Assembly Access) was joyful, and hyped up—the crowd occasionally interrupted speakers with chants of "si se puede" and other cheers, at one point prompting state senator Kevin de León to remark, "This is turning into a rally for Jerry Brown today."
"No one who works full time should live in poverty," de León continued. "We spend so much of our precious time on earth working...our community should have the security that comes with a living wage."
Another speaker gave credit to the grassroots movement of groups like Fight For $15, saying that the marches, protests, and strikes played a big part in getting legislators on board with the wage hike.
Then Jerry Brown took the podium and gave an impassioned speech, first giving credit to the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) for giving the law a "thrust" it needed with their push for a ballot initiative, and that they "wouldn't be here without it."
Brown continued, "Work is not just an economic equation; it's part of living in a moral community...Economics is about dollars and sense; it's mechanical, and rather heartless. Justice is about giving people their due." After his rousing speech, in which he alluded to the upcoming presidential election and the need to keep fighting, he looked around and said, "Now where's this bill," before he and the crowd onstage awkwardly walked en masse over to a little desk on stage, where Brown signed the bill. The crowd erupted into cheers of "Sí, se pudo," a riff on "Sí se puede" that means roughly "Yes, we did it."
Here's his speech in full:
A study conducted by UC Berkeley's Labor Center estimated that 5.6 million workers would be affected by the new law, and combined with another 800,000 workers who will already receive wage increases due to local policies, represent 37% of the state's workforce.
Los Angeles has been a leader when it comes to progressive minimum wage legislation. Last year, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed into law a bill raising the minimum wage to $15 in the city, making it the largest city to do so. Shortly thereafter, that wage extended to unincorporated cities within L.A. County.
Hillary Clinton has said she supports a $12 federal minimum wage while Bernie Sanders introduced a bill in the Senate last year proposing a $15 federal minimum wage. As for Trump and Cruz—come on, what would you expect?