Solving California’s Income Inequality Problem

Solving California’s Income Inequality Problem
Hardy L. Brown. Photo by Benoit Malphettes

Hardy L. Brown. Photo by Benoit Malphettes

I recently read an article written by McKenzie Jackson of California Black Media:

“The Golden State is the first state in the nation to approve a statewide minimum wage as high as $15 — but not without sparking rigorous discussion.” 

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 3 on Monday, four days after the measure passed the State Assembly and State Senate. The new law will gradually raise the state’s minimum wage each year until it reaches $15 in 2022.

Brown said raising California’s minimum wage from $10 an hour is not just a calculated economic move, but also an action that speaks to the responsibility that comes with being a part of a moral community.

“Morally and socially and politically, they (minimum wages) make every sense because it binds the community together and makes sure that parents can take care of their kids in a much more satisfactory way,” he said.

I am in support of what our legislators did because I came up in a state that did not have minimum wage laws or at least we did not know about them. In the North Carolina of my youth, farm help was paid $5 a day to work around the barns while field workers were paid $8 a day, working ten hour days. Some of us called it working from “can’t see to can’t see.” Meaning we were up before the sun rose and didn’t finish until the sun was setting.

I thought I was in heaven when I landed my first job in California. I worked at Fontana’s Kaiser Steel earning $2.23 an hour while only working eight hours in a day with overtime for any time over the eight hours. I was able to buy a car, pay for an apartment, and send money home to mom and dad, while opening a saving account for the times I would not be working.


Now I am a senior citizen and I know I am blessed to have made some good financial decisions but many of our senior citizens are hurting and living in poverty so now that the minimum wage for workers is set, we need to find a way to improve the financial plight for those who brought us to these good times.

The article went on to say that Sen. Isadore Hall said the people who will benefit from the $15 minimum wage are families that are struggling:

“These are not families that are putting away money for a rainy day fund. These are not families that are planning vacations to Europe…I don’t look at this as a Republican issue. I don’t look at it as a Democratic issue. I look at it as a humanity issue. The folks in our communities, they are trying to buy groceries, they are trying to pay rent and utilities. The California Black Caucus, we support SB 3.” 

I agree with Senator Hall because when we go to the grocery store or the drug store, no one says this a Republican or Democratic line.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council executive director Jim Araby said his organization, one of the bill’s many sponsors, is proud to stand with working families struggling to make ends meet on minimum wage: “We join many who are fighting to end income inequality”.

I know there is another side to this issue because I have had to meet employees on payday and I am proud to say I always paid our employees above the minimum wages, which included paid time off whenever they needed it.

It is historic for our state and now the thing is making it work for all of us. Our workers now must acquire the skills for upward mobility because businesses are in business to make money while providing a product or service to people who can afford to pay for it at a reasonable cost.

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