Mayor Garcia’s Economic Roundtable Draws Diverse Audience

Nov. 22, 2015 / By

The Long Beach Mayor’s Roundtable at Admiral Kidd Park had an eclectic audience last Tuesday. Low-wage restaurant workers to nonprofits, from small business owners to city officials were present to discuss raising the minimum wage to $15, enforcement, and sick day benefits.

The Campaign to Raise the Wage is encouraging city leaders to take on a system of enforcement and include a sufficient amount of paid sick days, efforts, which advocates say, will bring thousands of families out of poverty and improve community health. Many are also demanding that there no be no exceptions to the wage hike.

There’s an anticipation of more work productivity if wages are increased, said Mayor Robert Garcia. 33,000 workers could receive substantial wage increases and in the best outcome, there could be an annual increase of $5,000 per worker from a wage hike, the mayor added.

Building Healthy Communities Long Beach (BHC-LB) recently surveyed 80 organizational partner members on raising the minimum wage within the nonprofit community. “Overwhelmingly, 75 percent of them said we should raise the minimum wage without exceptions,” said Laura Merryfield, an attendee at the roundtable and parent organizer at BHC-LB.

The minimum wage was originally meant to be an entry-level wage and encourage people to improve themselves, but now many workers work for low wages, said Wayne Slavitt, the CEO and Founder of Mobül, at the roundtable discussion.

Because many highly-impacted residents are striving to live off low wages, Merryfield said, people should learn more and advocate for this matter.

With a wage hike, the annual earnings of Long Beach workers will increase by $405 million, and almost $130 million of that will go to workers who live in the Long Beach, according to an October study by the Economic Roundtable. The study adds that a $15 minimum wage will benefit over 6,500 workers in Long Beach and lift them out of poverty by 2020.

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