Residents, Leaders Speak at City Hall in Support of Minimum Wage Path

Council to review independent studies later this month, consider voting to proceed with or pause pay hikes

Published : Tuesday, February 5, 2019 | 5:40 AM

A week before the City Council is due to officially receive the results of two commissioned studies on the effects of Pasadena’s 2016 Minimum Wage Ordinance, more than a dozen speakers urged the Council Monday to keep the ordinance on its path to a $15 citywide minimum wage in 2020.

The Council Chamber was packed with supporters of the minimum wage ordinance. Two held up a banner reading, “Make Pasadena the City of Raises, not Just the City of Roses.”

No speakers at the meeting spoke in favor of pausing or halting the minimum wage path.

The next pay hike would come as the third phase of the ordinance which could raise the City’s minimum wage each year, until achieving $15 per hour. The ordinance calls for a Year-Three analysis before moving into the fourth and fifth pay raises. 2019 is the third year of the law.

The review of the effects of the ordinance, and a vote on whether to proceed with or pause the ordinance, are understood to be set for the Council’s meeting on Monday, February 11.

Workers unable to speak English, along with a number of non-profit leaders and union members addressed the Council on Monday, urging the Members not to “pause” the ordinance.

Because the residents addressed the Council during the public comment portion of the meeting and not on an agenda item, the Mayor and Council were prohibited by law to respond or comment directly to the speakers.

Mayor Tornek explained last summer that with the City’s Minimum Wage Ordinance the Council “committed to the five (pay) steps, but we built in this pause to make sure that we did an evaluation before we pressed ahead to steps four and five.”

Jessica Kubel, executive director of the YWCA Pasadena-Foothill Valley, told the Council, “ Non-profits like us are serving people who are trying to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Having that background myself, I know how it affects the people that we serve. We ask you to please think of those you serve in the community as well, and to think of the youth and their parents, and to help this be a better city for all.”

Dusting off a newly resurged historical tradition dating from as far back as Roman forums, supporters of the various speakers snapped their fingers during their comments, instead of applauding, ostensibly not to interrupt the speakers’ flow.

Pasadena League of Women Voters president Dorothy Keane asked the Council to “ratify” the unanimous 2016 decision on the minimum wage, and “vote yes to guarantee that low-income workers receive minimum wage increases until (the increases) reach $15 per hour in 2020 for larger employees and 2021 for smaller employees for smaller employers.”

Keane continued, “Taking into account that the cost of living in Pasadena and its surrounding cities is very high, we are aware of many workers who have to make a decision of paying rent or purchasing medicine for their families when their wages are inadequate. The cost of housing is extreme and many workers are among the homeless population.”

Pasadena Unified School Board Member Elizabeth Pomeroy also spoke in support of continuing the path to a higher minimum wage, saying, “63% of PUSD’s students get a free or reduced lunch, and many of its students are among the city’s homeless.”

Arturo Acosta, speaking through an interpreter, told the Council, “It’s just not enough,” while Bernardo Otario, said in Spanish, “We do the jobs no one will do. We deserve better.”