Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Activists march for a higher minimum wage

Workers and activists march in support of a higher minimum wage. (Photo: Steve Rhodes/Flickr/cc)

A Trump-Nominated Judge Blocked a Wage Hike From the CA Ballot, But the Fight Isn't Over

We're taking a new approach: working with our elected partners in the California state legislature to get the job done.

Joe Sanberg

There's a lot to feel pessimistic about these days.

The past few years have been marked by successive crises—a raging pandemic, a planet on fire, and a Supreme Court bent on rescinding fundamental rights.

For many in our country, the American experiment is failing. But California has stood strong, thanks to the courage and action of progressive leaders who have pushed ambitious legislation to protect us.

"We've done the hard work—our measure qualified for 2024. But this measure wasn't designed to help working people two years from now."

As families across the nation braced for the end of free school lunch programs, California moved quickly to make free meals permanent for all public school students, regardless of their family's income.

On the heels of the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres, our elected leaders passed bold gun control laws to restrict access to weapons and create an avenue for private citizens to sue the industry.

Two days after the dangerous Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade, our lawmakers agreed to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot this year that would enshrine the right to abortion in our state constitution.

It’s clear that we have the political will to make meaningful, material change in the lives of Californians.

Now it’s time to turn to our poverty crisis.

Working families in the Golden State are suffocating. Gas prices are at an all-time high, grocery bills are breaking the bank, and a single medical emergency is enough to send someone into a lifetime of debt.

Just last week, it was reported that consumer prices rose 8.5% in July. We do not have an economy that works for everyone when, for millions of workers, a trip to the grocery store costs as much as a week’s wage.

So we wrote the Living Wage Act—a common-sense initiative to steadily and predictably raise the minimum wage to $18 an hour by 2025 (with additional time for small businesses). It would boost the income of 5 million Californians and lift 3.5 million hardworking people out of poverty.

Support for it is overwhelming—recent surveys show two-thirds of voters would support raising the minimum wage.

Workers need relief now and we submitted more than one million signatures to get on the November ballot. Unfortunately we were blocked by a Trump-nominated judge.

But we're not going to let that stand in the way of getting workers the raise they deserve.

We're taking a new approach: working with our elected partners in the California state legislature to get the job done. After all, this is a wildly popular measure among voters.

We've done the hard work—our measure qualified for 2024. But this measure wasn't designed to help working people two years from now.

Headlines are focusing on new legislation passed in Washington, D.C. to invest in clean energy, lower drug prices, and reduce the debt. Those are all worthwhile goals but we can never forget that low-wage workers are struggling right now. Once again, it’s up to California to lead the way.

California has become a bulwark for meaningful progressive change in a country that seems hell-bent on going backward.

But our sterling reputation won't hold up if we stand idly by as working Californians skip meals and ration medication to keep the lights on.

We need action now. Let's show the rest of the nation that when it comes to ending poverty, we won't take no for an answer.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Joe Sanberg

Joe Sanberg

Joe Sanberg is a progressive business leader and anti-poverty advocate. As a steward of the movement to pass the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families in California, Joe founded CalEITC4Me, one of the state’s largest anti-poverty programs, which has put more than $10 billion back in the pockets of working families. He successfully led the charge to expand eligibility for the program to low-wage, undocumented workers, who had previously been excluded from the tax credit. Then-California Gov. Jerry Brown's top adviser Nancy McFadden called Joe the "spark" behind the state's efforts to execute the new program. He was raised by his mom in Southern California.


We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Who Voted for This?': Campaigners Disrupt Truss Speech Over Fracking Ban 'U-Turn'

"Nobody voted for fracking, nobody voted to cut benefits, nobody voted to trash nature, nobody voted to scrap workers' rights," said one Greenpeace organizer.

Julia Conley ·

Khanna Tells Biden to Cut Off Weapons to Saudis as OPEC Agrees to Slash Oil Supply

"President Biden should make it clear that we will stop supplying the Saudis with weapons and air parts if they fleece the American people and strengthen Putin by making drastic production cuts."

Jake Johnson ·

'Absolutely Shameful': Michigan Judge Drops Flint Water Crisis Charges Against 7 Officials

"This means there are currently no criminal charges over 8 years later," lamented one journalist.

Jake Johnson ·

Trump Turns to SCOTUS Over Mar-a-Lago Docs, But 'It Won't Stop DOJ'

"This is a very specific and narrow request by Trump the merits of which turn on a technical jurisdictional question, but which runs into fatal procedural obstacles long before that," said one analyst. "It's not laughable, but only because it's small."

Jessica Corbett ·

Despite Calls for Diplomacy to End War, US Confirms More Weapons Headed to Ukraine

"Are there still negotiation possibilities?" asked Noam Chomsky. "There's only one way to find out. That's to try. If you refuse to try, of course, there's no option, no possibilities."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo