home   streets index
email in the streets of sacramento dillingertoons



A historic event occurred in Sacramento on September 30th, 2003, when after 2.5 years of effort by a coalition of Labor and other activist groups, the City Council voted to send a Living Wage Ordinance to city attorneys to prepare for a January 2004 enactment. As Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo said " It fits the city and it fits our time. It is compassionate and respectful of both residents and business."

The Living Wage Ordinance requires that businesses with more than 25 employees and contracts, loans or subsidies from the city totaling >$100,000 must pay workers $9/hour with health benefits or $12.84/hour without. The wage will rise to $10/hour by 2007, or higher, depending on what the cost of living is by then.

"Nobody's going to get rich here, but it's a good start," Chris Jones of ACORN said. Nonprofit corporations with <100 workers, contractors providing professional or emergency services, student interns, and seasonal employees are exempt from the ordinance.



Over 100 organizations joined together as the Living Wage Coalition 2.5 years ago with the goal of making Sacramento a Living Wage City. The Central Labor Council, labor unions, ACORN, the Gray Panthers, and many religious, civil rights, and social justice groups worked with City Councilmembers Dave Jones and Lauren Hammond to make this ordinance happen.

The six "YES" voting members of the City Council thanked the Living Wage Coalition for its work in bringing the issue to the City Council, singling out SEIU Local 250 VP John Borsos, labor activists Ruth Holbrook and Danette Janick, ACORN board chairman Chris Jones, and CSUS professor emeritus Manny Gale for their efforts in representing the interests of Labor and the working poor on this issue.



Supporters of Living Wage waiting in the City Council chambers for the ordinance to come to a vote.

The Living Wage movement started in Baltimore in 1994 and there are now more than 100 Living Wage cities in the U.S. The idea behind it is that people who work on city-paid projects should receive wages they can live on without having to rely on welfare to make ends meet. The city can't change the minimum wage (the feds and state do that), but by raising the wages required of employers who meet the criteria of the Living Wage Ordinance, it can raise the standard in the community.

The glaring alternative to paying a living wage is an employer like Wal-Mart, where one of the "benefits" offered is instruction in how to get food stamps and other forms of public assistance.


  "The idea behind the Living Wage is simple: Make work pay. We value work in our society, but there are too many people who work hard and play by the rules and yet do not make enough in wages to cover the cost of food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare " City Councilmember and Living Wage Ordinance co-sponsor Dave Jones.
back   pg 1of 2   next