Low wage workers will rally at Pasadena City Hall at noon today to demand the City Council stay on course and increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 on July 1.
According to a statement by POP! (Pasadenans Organizing for Progress), minimum wage workers, who currently make between $13.25 and $14.25, are concerned that the City Council’s EDTECH (Economic Development and Technology) subcommittee will give in to pressure by Pasadena businesses especially restaurateurs to postpone the next minimum wage increase. EDTECH is meeting Thursday, May 21.
“Everybody is suffering during this pandemic and no one has suffered more than the essential minimum wage worker, said Florence Annang, POP! co-chair.
“This is not the time to hold back pay raises for essential workers who already do not make enough to fill up a grocery bag with essential food. We should be talking about humanity over profits.”
POP will be joining the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) in the noontime march. Both organizations were leaders in the coalition to pass the minimum wage ordinance in 2016 and also rallied to make sure it stayed on track in 2019.
“It is inconceivable to me that in these desperate times, any City Council member would place the burden of sacrifice on the backs of essential workers who have continued to work when no one else could or would. We are marching for them because they are working for their families and the whole of our community”, added Luis Valentán, Regional Coordinator of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
According to a statement by POP!, low wage workers and people of color have shouldered the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of having to work at risk because they have no economic safety net. They also have become infected and are dying at a disproportionately higher rate than the greater white population. And millions have been left out of the federal assistance.
The city passed its minimum wage ordinance in 2016. Critics and some business owners, mostly restaurateurs, claimed the increase could force them to lay off workers.
Restaurants and small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, and are expected to continue to suffer economically going forward due to social distancing guidelines that could limit the number of customers in dining rooms.
Some local eateries have opened gofundme pages to stay above water.
“I am counting on the minimum wage to increase to $15 on July 1st. That is what the politicians told us. In times of pandemic and economic depression, we need more money in our pockets, not less. It is unfair and immoral that workers have to bear the burden all the time. said Marta Salazar, a Pasadena resident and low wage restaurant worker.