UFCW Local 135 is Proud of its Minimum Wage Leadership
UFCW Local 135 is one of the most powerful advocacy organizations for working families in the region. Over the past few years, we’ve been fighting for workers all over the county – union members as well as non-union workers.
One of the most important results of our strong advocacy work is that the City of San Diego on January 1, increased the minimum wage a full dollar – from $10.50 an hour to 11:50 an hour.
So, for nearly 200,000 workers in the City of San Diego, this represents a raise that could be in excess of $170 a month or more than $2,000 a year for full-time workers.
For families struggling to make ends meet in an expensive city like San Diego, this raise promises timely relief.
Many of our own members will benefit as a result of the minimum wage increase by receiving a boost in their pay checks. In the contract we negotiated a formula that is tied to the progression scale, so as the minimum wage goes up, our members will see their wages increase too.
For our members who work outside the city of San Diego, the state minimum wage has also increased from $10 to $10.50 an hour, resulting in additional bumps above minimum wage on the progression scale.
These increases came about, particularly in the city of San Diego, from strong advocacy by our local. It started about three years ago when UFCW Local 135 and the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council (Labor Council) approached then Interim Mayor Todd Gloria (who later became our Legislator of the Year for 2016) to put forward a city council resolution to increase the minimum wage.
Working closely with Todd, we were able to persuade the full city council to pass an ordinance. At the time this made San Diego the largest city in the country to raise its own minimum wage.
Unfortunately, big business interests spent $1 million to force the increase to a ballot referendum, which cynically took money away from working families for two years.
But we refused to give up. Finally, in June 2016 UFCW Local 135 and the Labor Council led a broad coalition of union and community organizations including the Center on Policy Initiatives, the Interfaith Council for Worker Justice, San Diego Organizing Project and Alliance San Diego to pass the initiative on the ballot.
Despite opposition from big business, the measure overwhelmingly passed with 62 percent of the vote. The minimum wage immediately jumped from $10 to $10.50 an hour.
While we were proud to lead an effort that benefits all workers in the city of San Diego, we then turned to the bargaining table to make sure our own members saw additional benefits above the minimum wage increase.
The major grocery employers were extremely reluctant to agree to our proposal that members would see additional increases above minimum wage in cities like San Diego and Los Angeles. The determined activism of our members through leafleting, boycotting and the strike authorization vote we took is what made the difference. In the end, we convinced the employers to agree to our proposal.
The story of the minimum wage increase in the City of San Diego is a historic example of a strong union combining member activism and political power with strength at the bargaining table to improve the lives of our members and of all working families in our community.
This is precisely the type of work that will define our union in 2017 and beyond.