ACLU supports an increased minimum wage!


The San Diego City Council will vote today on formally adopting an ordinance passed earlier this month to raise the city’s minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2017.  The Council voted for the increase on July 14, 2014.

The ACLU has long recognized that poverty inevitably results in subjugation of the poor to violations of their civil liberties and civil rights. Poverty and wealth inequality are legacies of discrimination in the past and manifestations of discrimination in the present. The poor are denied due process, the right of privacy, the equal protection of the laws, and other constitutional guarantees far more seriously and far more frequently than the middle class and the wealthy.

The ACLU supports positive governmental action to reduce the ill effects of poverty and thus eliminate or reduce deprivations of civil liberties and civil rights.

An excessively low minimum wage has universal consequences, most notably its lopsided effect on women and people of color, who are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs due to historical and current patterns of discrimination in education, employment, and housing. With only dismal minimum wage salaries, many people in communities of color continue to be denied fundamental opportunities for social and economic equality.

Nationwide, people of color make up a majority of those living below the poverty level, while the median wealth of white households remains 20 times that of black homes and 18 times that of Latino homes. In large part due to their systemic economic disadvantage, communities of color continue to suffer persistent violations of their civil rights and civil liberties.

A minimum wage that fails to cover even the basic costs of full-time workers and their families is clearly insufficient.

Raising the minimum wage, an effort that could lift thousands of San Diegans out of poverty – especially women and people of color – presents a powerful opportunity for San Diego to take a step toward addressing the systemic inequality of opportunity faced by communities of color and by all communities living in poverty.