ABC 7: Student Group Supports Minimum Wage Increase

SJSU group pushes to increase minimum wage

Posted by KGO-TV Jan. 23, 2012.

By Karina Rusk

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — San Jose may join San Francisco in raising the minimum wage. Students at San Jose State University are pushing a ballot initiative to increase the city’s minimum wage to double digits.

At a time when tuition costs have doubled in the past five years and gas is close to $4 a gallon, some San Jose State University students say California’s $8 an hour minimum wage simply isn’t enough in Silicon Valley.

“There’s malnutrition, there’s poverty, there’s homelessness when America has the capacity to so much better and we the people have to be the ones pushing for that,” said Saul Gonzalez from Campus Alliance For Economic Justice.

The student group Campus Alliance For Economic Justice is proposing a citywide ballot initiative to raise San Jose’s minimum wage $2 to $10 an hour.

They point to three neighboring states — Nevada, Oregon and Washington — which all have higher minimum wages and the city of San Francisco which has the highest minimum wage in the nation at $10.24. Supporters of the effort say San Jose needs to follow San Francisco’s lead.

“The people and citizens of San Francisco are more aware of the problems of the people as a mass. And they understand if you take care of the mass, the mass will then take care of the whole,” said Rev. Jeff Moore, from the NAACP in Silicon Valley.

Many small business owners are expected to fight back. Josh McGhie started 4th Street Pizza five years ago. He has about 25 employees, most of them making minimum wage.

“It’s tough in a business like ours to pass that cost onto customers so $2 an hour extra in minimum wage would definitely be a tough blow,” said McGhie.

Voters though could be influenced by the Occupy Wall Street sentiment challenging the 99 percent to speak up.

Once the city approves the ballot language, the student group will try to gather enough signatures, about 20,000, to put the increased minimum wage initiative before voters in November.