Since fast-food workers first began protesting for better pay earlier this year, they’ve been joined by everyone from President Obama to wealthy Silicon Valley conservative Ron Unz in calling for a higher minimum wage.
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Even though Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation this fall to raise California’s minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2016, advocates say that’s not enough.
An October study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center found that 52 percent of the families of fast-food workers are enrolled in one or more public assistance programs, compared with 25 percent of the workforce as a whole.
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Unz, the primary sponsor of a 1998 English-only ballot measure that all but eliminated bilingual education in California, is gathering signatures for an initiative that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour in 2016. He argues that paying workers more will reduce their dependence on government aid.