National AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler addresses a crowd of Raise the Wage supporters August 13 at the IBEW Hall.
Through rap, “spoken word” poetry and music, one strong message permeated a room full of supporters for a November ballot initiative to raise San Jose’s minimum wage: “It’s time for ten.”
Secretary-Treasurer of the National AFL-CIO Liz Shuler offered her unwavering endorsement of the increase as she lauded the group of young activists who launched the effort to create an ordinance mandating a $10 an hour minimum wage in San Jose. The current state minimum is $8.
“What you’re doing here in raising the minimum wage is going to help so many people,” Shuler said. “It’s heartening for me to see not only so many labor activists coming together, but you’re actually leading the charge. You’re inspiring the labor movement in this instance and our community partners who might not have taken this fight on if it weren’t for you.”
The idea that was launched by a San Jose State University sociology class has drawn the support of hundreds from community groups, businesses, elected officials and individuals. The wage increase would make San Jose only the fifth city in America with a citywide minimum wage.
Working Partnerships USA Executive Director Cindy Chavez hosted the event, which included a rap song about the minimum wage issue composed by young community activists from “Silicon Valley De-Bug”, a media, community organizing and entrepreneurial collective based in San Jose. Social justice advocate Adriana Garcia performed a spoken word piece decrying the treatment and opportunities for low wage workers in the community.
One theme both Chavez and Shuler touched on was the misrepresentation of the issue expected from opponents of the wage increase. The San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce is reportedly planning to spend $1.5 million on a campaign to defeat the measure.
“In fact,” said Chavez, “research shows wage increases are good for the economy. People will spend their newly earned money locally and businesses will be better off for it.”
“You’ve got to be the truth squad,” Shuler said, “and get out the facts.”