Minimum Wage Workers Across the Nation Won Raises on Election Day
Voters threw their weight behind state, county, and city referendums raising the minimum wage across seven states on Election Day Tuesday.
420,000 minimum wage workers in Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Nebraska can now expect a higher hourly beginning January 1, although many of the approved increases will happen gradually over the course of the next two years. Alaska's minimum wage is now set to be $9.75 an hour by January 2016, with an $8.75 rate taking effect in the new year. Arkansas will boost their minimum wage to $7.50 this January and $8.50 in January 2017. Nebraska's will increase to $8.00 on January 1 and $9 in January 2016. South Dakota's minimum wage will ultimately increase to $9.00 in January 2016, but workers will see a $1.25 jump this January to $8.50 an hour.
Although the increases are modest, they send a strong message to national legislators about the broadening support for living wages for all workers across the country. Yesterday's victories united voters across party lines, and over 25 states have now taken action to raise the minimum wage. On Election Day, efforts to give low-wage workers a raise even won at the county and city level.
190,000 workers in San Francisco and Oakland will also see raises after two successful measures to raise the minimum wages in those California cities were approved by voters. San Francisco's Proposition J will gradually raise the minimum wage in the Bay Area city to $15 an hour by July 2018, beginning with an increase on January 1. The move rivals nearby Seattle's historic decision to do the same earlier this year and affirmed the "living wage" activists have been championing since 2012 across the country as part of the Fight for 15, but unlike Seattle's minimum wage law, San Francisco's wage hike covers nearly all workers - including those that earn tips - and takes effect faster.In Oakland, Measure FF will give up to 48,000 workers a raise in March of 2015 when the city adopts a $12.25 an hour minimum wage.
Shum Preston, a spokesperson for the SEIU Local 1021, which was a proponent of Proposition J, called the city-based strategy "The California Model" in an interview with the SFGate. "These ballot initiatives are the right issue at the right time," he told them. "This is a strong example of the traditional progressive left in the Bay Area not only being relevant, but driving a national agenda."
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee championed Proposition J, and spoke out prior to the election to voters about his time washing dishes in his family's restaurant growing up. "I know what [low-wage workers] are going through," he said to SFGate. "I've washed those dishes." Lee also looked forward in his remarks. "We are now going to be the light for the rest of the country to lead the way on a real, true minimum wage."
"Faced with an unresponsive Congress and opposition by Republican-controlled legislatures in a numbers of states, Americans came out in force to vote for minimum wage increases across the country," Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund, told NBC news. "Rare is the issue that can bring together voters in South Dakota and San Francisco."
Media Resources: NBC News 11/5/14; CNN 11/5/14; FiveThirtyEight Politics 10/30/14; Milwaukee Business Journal 11/5/14; Ward Room 11/5/14; SFGate 11/4/14; Mic News 11/5/14; Feminist Newswire 2/14/14, 5/1/14, 9/4/14, 11/4/14
1/27/2016 Taiwan Elects First Woman President - In a landslide victory, the leader of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen won the country's presidential election, becoming the first woman in Taiwan's history to hold the position.
Emphasizing her party's commitment to maintaining Taiwan's independence from China, Tsai won over young voters eager to usher in a political changing of the guard following some 70 years of dominance by the pro-Chinese unification party, the Kuomintang (KMT), chaired by presidential opponent Eric Chu. . . .