Yvonne Walker named to Sacramento Income Inequality Task Force
Task Force will submit recommendations on increasing the city’s minimum wage

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With nearly 45,000 represented members in the Sacramento area, Local 1000 is an economic force to be reckoned with in California’s capitol city. The union has been a proud and vocal proponent of raising the minimum wage to combat income inequality. In a nod to both those realities, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has appointed our president, Yvonne R. Walker, to the city’s Income Inequality Task Force.

The task force, made up of community, business and labor leaders, convened for the first time July 29 at Sacramento City Hall. It will meet regularly until this fall, at which time it will submit a report with a recommendation on increasing Sacramento’s minimum wage.

“No one who works full time 
should have to live in poverty.”
—Yvonne R. Walker, Local 1000 President

The task force will analyze what it really costs to live in Sacramento, how the cost of living impacts poverty and what solutions are possible. The state minimum wage, which applies to Sacramento, is $9 an hour and will increase to $10 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016.

At the first meeting, the United Way of California presented research that showed, among many other findings, that it takes a family of two adults and two children $50,595 to get by in Sacramento County and that nearly one in three households struggle every month. 

Task force members and attendees also heard research from Sacramento State on the demographics of minimum wage workers in the area who are, unlike the stereotype of a high school student working an entry-level job, overwhelmingly over the age of 25 and nearly one in four minimum wage earners are single mothers.

Sacramento’s task force comes amid a national movement for wage equality backed by SEIU and other labor, faith and social justice groups. The momentum is growing, especially in California, where Los Angeles and the UC system have recently joined cities like San Francisco and Seattle in raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour or more. 

That momentum, and the possibility for real relief it represents, was tangible at the task force’s first meeting. Worker after worker rose to share stories of deprivation and struggle, leaving no question that the current minimum wage is woefully inadequate—and that low wage workers are ready to rise up together to demand a livable reward for the wealth they create for others. 

President Walker, visibly moved by the stories she’s heard so many times from workers on the bottom rung of the economy, said it’s time to reward all work with a wage that can at least pay the bills.

“No one who works full time should have to live in poverty,” said Walker.