Low-Wage Workers Celebrate Groundbreaking Minimum Wage Victory

On November 4th, 2003, low-wage workers and their allies celebrated a
groundbreaking economic justice victory with the overwhelming passage of Proposition L by San Francisco voters. Prop L raised the minimum wage for all workers in San Francisco to $8.50 per hour, the highest rate in the nation. As a result:

· An estimated 54,000 of San Francisco's lowest paid workers will receive an average $2,000 increase in their annual income--40% of those receiving a wage increase are Asian Americans, 60% are immigrants and 70% are people of color.

· An estimated 29,850 children have parents who will receive a wage increase as a result of Prop L, and 70% of these children are Asian American.

· The San Francisco economy will experience a $100 million per year
“transfer of wealth” from businesses to the working poor--low-wage workers will spend much of their extra income on basic living expenses such as food, clothing, housing, recreation etc. thus stimulating the local economy, helping businesses and creating new jobs.

· The City and County of San Francisco is responsible and authorized to
enforce Prop L--this is significant because the State and Federal
governments who were previously responsible for wage enforcement are more conservative, less committed to workers rights and more difficult to
influence.

The Yes on L campaign mounted an aggressive Get Out The Vote operation focused on San Francisco's working class communities of color, neighborhoods typically ignored by electoral campaigns. As a result, over 60% of voters supported Prop L creating a landslide victory for economic and social justice.

CPA played a leading role in the Yes on L campaign working in solidarity
with an exciting new coalition of low-wage worker groups, labor unions and progressive organizations. Over 60 CPA members, from low-wage and unemployed workers, to SRO hotel tenants, high school students and seniors, contributed to this inspiring grassroots movement. Representing the face of San Franciscans directly benefiting from Prop L, the images of CPA member Xiao Qiong Tan and the 4-year old son of another CPA member were featured on all Yes on L campaign literature. CPA Director Gordon Mar served as a Co-Chair of the campaign Steering Committee.

The Prop L victory generated significant political momentum for low-wage worker organizing. CPA is currently working with other groups to ensure that the City fully implements and aggressively enforces the new minimum wage law. We are also pushing the City to better address the needs of laid-off and unemployed workers, especially low-wage immigrants. Finally, CPA is completing a strategic planning process leading towards a new multi-year economic justice campaign to be launched in the Winter 2004.

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