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Minimum wage legislation by Democrats is an 'insult' to the state's low-wage earners, example of election year politics, argue Greens

GREEN PARTY OF CALIFORNIA NEWS RELEASE

SACRAMENTO (June 1, 2006) - Legislation to hike the state minimum wage approved by the Assembly Wednesday and expected to be passed by the Senate Thursday is not a real step forward, but an "insult" to low wage earners and an example of election year politics by Democrats, charged members of the Green Party of California today.

They added that Democrats refused to help put a popular initiative on the ballot this year that would have truly benefitted the state's lowest paid workers.

Current state legislation would increase the hourly minimum wage from $6.75 to $7.75 by July 2008. But, the hike is so small that workers would earn, in today's dollars, much less than minimum wage earners in 1968, when the minimum wage was $1.50 an hour. To match that rate, the minimum wage would have had to be $10.09 an hour in 2005 to earn what workers were paid in 1968, according to the California Budget Project.

"This legislation is not real reform, and not anything close to a fair wage. It is an insult to hardworking Californians who are being exploited daily. Democrats and Republicans, from the governor on down, are talking about programs that will get them elected, not really help Californians," said Donna Warren, the Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor.

"This exact legislation was first proposed nearly three years ago, and vetoed. If lawmakers truly care about low wage earners, and not just getting elected, they would increase the minimum wage by at least the rate of inflation during that period, which has been about 10 percent. These bills are nothing more than an election year ploy," said Larry Cafiero, Green Party candidate for Insurance Commissioner.

Warren and Cafiero said true reform would be a wage that at least equals what low wage workers were paid in 1968. In fact, the Green Party of California helped spearhead a statewide "fair wage" initiative earlier this year to raise the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. However, despite polls indicating the measure would pass with more than 63 percent of the vote, Democrats refused to participate in any way to help the initiative get on the ballot. In the end, volunteers ran out of time and money to get it on the ballot.

-30-

Contacts:
Crescenzo Vellucci, State Press Office, 916.996.9170,
Sara Amir (Los Angeles), 310.270.7106,
Dr. Bob Vizzard (Sacramento), 916.206.8953,
Daniel Brezenoff (Southern California), 310.422.2211,
Susan King (San Francisco), 415.823.5524,

The Green Party of California
PO Box 2828
Sacramento, CA 95812
Phone: (916) 448-3437
Web: http://www.cagreens.org
EMail:

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