Tag Archives: minimum wage

New Law Will Protect Low-Wage Earners from Debt Collectors

by Jessica Bartholow

The fight for fifteen is no longer just a slogan, or a hashtag. It is now the law in an increasing number of California cities and will soon be a checkbox on our ballots. And, in January, California will have the highest minimum wage in the nation. As the most prosperous state in the country, with one of the highest rates of income inequality, it is only right that we should.

But, for some minimum wage workers who have been consumed by debt, either because they have lived lifetimes in poverty or because they became newly poor during the recession, the increasing wage offers little relief. This is because existing state law allows a low-income worker to be garnished at the maximum rate of 25% when they earn more than the state minimum wage.  As a result, workers earning $12 an hour because of a local minimum wage (for example) can be subject to a $3 an hour garnishment – making their take-home pay no more than it was before the local initiative raised the wage.

This 100% taking from workers earning higher minimum wages undermines not only workers, but also local decision making.  Low-income workers want to honor and pay back their debts like everyone else, but a 100% taking on these earnings discourages work and contributes to poverty among working families, putting life essentials – food, rent, utilities – out of reach. When low-income workers’ wages are garnished, they often face more severe setbacks, losing their assets and falling into further debt to credit card companies or predatory lenders. A new report by ProPublica shows how this kind of aggressive debt collection not only hurts low-income workers, but also low-income communities, especially black communities.

On July 1, 2016, these workers and their communities will see some relief. That’s the day that SB 501, a new law authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski, goes into effect.

SB 501 makes important changes to California’s wage garnishment law.

  • SB 501 Honors Local Minimum Wage Ordinances: Current law ties the garnishment calculation to the state minimum wage. SB 501 ties the garnishment calculation to the state minimum wage unless there is a local minimum wage ordinance that is higher. As of July 1, 2016, workers cannot be garnished until their paycheck is higher than the amount someone would earn working full-time at the local minimum wage.
  • SB 501 Graduates the Garnishment Rate: As of July 1, 2016, the garnishment rate will be tapered so people who earn less than twice the supplemental poverty rate for a family of three pay less in garnishment, and workers who are the poorest pay the lowest rates of garnishment.
  • Government Debt Not Included in SB 501: SB 501 does not reduce garnishment rates paid on child support or tax debt.

As we continue to build toward more equitable wages and workplace policies, I look forward to also continuing to lightening the burden of debt carried by workers who have been undermined by low-wages for far too long. We will need to do both, improve wages and reduce debt, if we are going to win an economy built on shared prosperity. For more information about this new law and how it will impact your clients or constituents, contact Jessica Bartholow at jbartholow@wclp.org or click here.

A Battle Over Increasing the Minimum Wage in San Diego

A City Council veto override on Monday has set the scene for a showdown between local and national business interests vs. a labor-community coalition over San Diego’s Earned Sick Day / Minimum Wage ordinance.

Following months of public hearings and invitations (mostly declined) for local businesses to hammer out a compromise, the city council passed an ordinance providing access to five earned sick days and setting a local minimum wage increasing to $11.50 over three years.

This action makes San Diego the largest city in the nation to raise the minimum wage.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer–said to be one of the bright new faces in the GOP– then turned thumbs down on the bill on Friday, August 8th. Although the council was slated for vacation for the rest of the month, a special session was called by president Todd Gloria. The 6-2 vote upholding the ordinance surprised nobody.

It didn’t take but a few hours before a well-financed Chamber of Commerce-led group announced it would be collecting signatures to force a referendum on the ordinance, hoping to suspend (until the June, 2016 elections) an increase in pay for an estimated 172,000 local workers, along with denying access to earned sick days to 279,000 individuals.

They have 30 days to gather at least 33,866 valid signatures; National Petition Management has been reportedly hired to do the dirty work. If they fail to make that threshold, the first stage of the wage hikes will go into effect in January with an increase for local minimum-wage workers from $9 an hour to $9.75.

Decline to Sign Campaign

Funded by national restaurant chains and some of California’s biggest donors to Mitt Romney, the Chamber’s “Small Business Coalition” (managed by the right-wing Revolvis political consultancy) is facing off against Raise Up San Diego, which has called for a citywide decline to sign campaign, simply called “Don’t Sign It,” to defeat the referendum against the ordinance.

This attempt at forcing a referendum will be the fourth big dollar effort at overturning council-enacted legislation in the last two years orchestrated by conservative business interests who’ve long been used to getting their way in local government.

As San Diego has faded from being a solidly Republican town to having a Democratic majority among registered voters, the business as usual crowd has turned to well-financed misinformation campaigns run by right wing spin-doctors.

And until now they’ve been on a winning streak, enabled by local media either owned by financiers of these campaigns or incapable of reporting on issues outside the framing provided by the Chamber of Commerce and their allies.

Told, Sold and Lied To

Over the past two years San Diegans have been told, sold and lied to about:

**requiring impact statements on big box store construction,

**reinstating a linkage fee (tied to affordable housing funding) suspended for nearly two decades on big construction projects,

**and creating a barrier between residential and industrial projects in the neighborhood with the highest asthma rate in the state

Each campaign has used numbers pulled out of a bodily orifice to create the impression that people’s job’s would be in danger. The last campaign even went so far as spread stories about the US Navy (a major local employer) pulling out of town.

The local daily newspaper is owned by “Papa” Doug Manchester, known for his financial support of right-wing causes. He was a backer for Dinesh D’Souza’s smear-o-mentary, 2016: Obama’s America.  

The Sunday edition of UT-San Diego  featured a “news” story giving opponents of the increase major play.  

This time around, the Chamber types, hiding behind the ‘money is free speech’ notion, are out to claim they are the defenders of democracy. They are saying the referendum is needed since the City Council passed this ordinance without putting it up for a public vote.

It’s Orwellian beyond Orwellian; Big Money is trying to play the pity card because the City Council did the job voters elected them to do. And they’re claiming the “decline to sign’ campaign is a plot by labor bullies to harass business.

The Raise Up San Diego coalition is taking a stand on this issue. Two-thirds of voters – 63%, according to a recent Greenburg Quinlan Rosner Research poll – support the Earned Sick Days and Minimum Wage Ordinance.

When you have a local oligarchy capable of throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars or more on the table everytime they see something they don’t like, it becomes harder and harder to persuade people to vote in local elections.

And that, my friends, would be the point.

The Rise Up San Diego Coalition

In addition to faith, labor and community groups the Coalition fighting for this minimum wage increase has some high profile supporters in the business sector. Not every business in San Diego’s economy is dependent of a low wage model.

Irwin Jacobs, founder of Qualcomm (a major employer in the area) and Mel Katz (former Regional Chamber of Commerce Chairman) wrote a supportive op-ed, only to have it buried in the Saturday edition (lowest day for readership) of UT-San Diego.

The minimum wage and earned sick leave ordinance passed by a supermajority of the City Council establishes a basic standard of fairness for working people and their families. Our business experience here in San Diego tells us it makes good economic and business sense, too.

The high cost of living in San Diego is well-documented. Full-time work at the California minimum wage of $9 an hour pays $1,560 a month before taxes. In a city where the average one-bedroom apartment rents for $1,032, it’s unrealistic to support one’s self or a family on that wage. Our city minimum wage and earned sick leave ordinance gives an estimated 172,000 San Diegans a modest and gradual raise to $11.50 an hour by the year 2017 plus the ability to earn up to five sick days off per year.

Also well-documented is that increases in salaries of low-wage workers are spent close to home by these workers on basic necessities like food, housing and transportation. In San Diego, that means millions of dollars more circulating and recirculating through the San Diego economy each year and the associated multiplier effect of that spending. Earned sick days means millions more in improved productivity courtesy of a healthier and happier workforce.

Basketball great Bill Walton joined supporters at a press conference last week:

“We stand for a San Diego in which hard-working people aren’t locked in poverty and in which they can earn a few days off a year for when they get sick or need to care for an ill child or other loved one,” Walton said.  “We know the vast majority of San Diegans feel the same way, and we urge them to say no to the signature gatherers.”

It’s Time to Fight Back

Those seeking the referendum don’t care that they are literally taking away sustenance from those who need it most.

For Andrea Tookes, a minimum-wage security officer and mother in San Diego, this means another 20 months or more not having to choose between job security and a pay day, and taking care of one her four children when one of them becomes ill and can’t go to school.

“That’s a terrible choice,” said Tookes.  “You don’t want to send your kids to school sick.  You can’t leave them home alone.  And you can’t afford to forfeit pay or give your employer the impression you’re not a dependable employee.”

If you live in San Diego:

1.Take the pledge not to sign the anti-sick days anti-minimum wage petitions.

2. Inform as many people as possible that the earned sick days and minimum wage policy HAS PASSED, and that any signature gathering effort is an attempt to TAKE IT AWAY!! Tell your friends: DON’T SIGN IT!

3. If you see a signature gatherer, call or text the following hotline: (619) 930 – 3300

4. Volunteer.

Progressives in San Diego have used these recent challenges by reactionary elements in big business to increase organizing efforts throughout the community. Although we are outgunned, our numbers and commitment keep increasing; new alliances are being built on the shoulders of previous coalitions.

San Diego used to be a bright red city. Now it’s light blue and getting bluer. The minimum wage drive is just part of the shift. We will keep fighting until we’re BRIGHT BLUE..

Spread the word, my friends. This is going to be an epic battle.

This story was cross-posted at Daily Kos

Neel Kashkari goes homeless for a week, and learns all the wrong lessons

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari did a stunt spending a week homeless in Fresno looking for a job, then wrote about it in the Wall Street Journal. It turns out–shock!–that getting a job isn’t as easy as asking for one, and–double shock!–relying on our patchwork safety net doesn’t exactly deliver results or human dignity.

Kashkari supposedly spent six nights sleeping outdoors getting rousted off park benches by cops, and getting his meals from a homeless shelter during his supposedly fruitless job search. His upshot? That California is over-regulated and over-taxed, that he didn’t need government programs, that all he needed was a job, and everything would have been just fine. No, really. He wrote that.


I walked for hours and hours in search of a job, giving me a lot of time to think. Five days into my search, hungry, tired and hot, I asked myself: What would solve my problems? Food stamps? Welfare? An increased minimum wage?

No. I needed a job. Period. Like others, I have often said the best social program in the world is a good job. Even though my homeless trek was only for a week, with a defined endpoint, that statement became much more real for me. A job was the one thing that could have solved my food, housing and transportation problems.

California’s record poverty is man-made: over-regulation and over-taxation that drive jobs out of state…

Any normal person would have come away from the experience saying, “Whoa, there but for the grace of god go I.” Or perhaps “what the hell is wrong with the economy that no one will even hire me for $9/hour to sweep floors or wash dishes?” But not Republicans like Kashkari. They immediately assume that taxes and regulations must be to blame for all of it.

But Kashkari’s experience would have been far more instructive if he had actually gotten a minimum wage job. It would have been far more interesting to have seen Kashkari’s reaction to trying to find an apartment, decent food and workable transportation on $9 an hour. Methinks just “getting a job” wouldn’t have really solved his problems.

Maybe that can be his next stunt. He could even learn from Democrats who have documented their own time “living the wage” that just having a job doesn’t really cut it.

Cross-posted from Digby’s Hullabaloo

Governor Signs Minimum Wage Increase

 photo hoursapartment_zps9fc26c03.jpgBig win for California’s workers

by Brian Leubitz

Those working at the minimum wage have to work several jobs to get by in most of California’s communities. The Governor helped that somewhat today:

Gov. Jerry Brown this morning signed legislation to raise California’s minimum wage by 25 percent, from $8 an hour to $10 an hour by 2016.

The bill, celebrated by Brown and his labor union allies at an event in Los Angeles, promises the first increase in California’s hourly minimum since 2008, when the minimum wage was raised 50 cents to $8. …

Assembly Bill 10, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, will raise the minimum wage from $8 to $9 an hour on July 1, 2014, and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016. (SacBee)

Now, under the current minimum wage, the average Californian needs to work 129 hours to pay for an apartment in the state. To be clear, that is working about 18.5 hours per day, seven days per week. And forget about some of the more expensive communities, like San Francisco where one bedrooms can go up to $3,000 per month for a standard unit in the eastern half of the city.

This bill will help somewhat with this issue, but clearly we need to encourage more affordable housing within easy transit distance of our city cores. And we haven’t even gotten to providing greater access to healthy food and quality schools…

All that being said, this is a positive first step for millions of Californians. Congratulations to Gov. Brown, Asm. Alejo, and all those who worked to get this bill passed.

California Legislature Passes Historic Minimum Wage Increase

by Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

California made history last night. With the support of California’s unions, the Legislature voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10, the highest minimum wage in the country. The wage will be implemented in two steps: an increase to $9 per hour in July of next year, followed by another one-dollar increase to $10 in January of 2016. Gov. Brown has agreed to sign the bill, AB 10, authored by Assemblymember Luis Alejo.

The wage increase will affect more than 2.3 million California workers, according the Economic Policy Institute. It means that single moms will have a little extra to support their families. It means seniors who’ve been forced to re-enter the workforce will have a little more to help pay for prescription drugs. And it means that all low-wage workers have received validation that their work is worthy of dignity and respect.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

Raising the minimum wage isn’t just an economic necessity. It’s a moral imperative. For far too long, low-wage workers have toiled for far too little.

The minimum wage deal came together with the strong support of Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders.

Gov. Brown:

The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs. This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.

The wage increase is expected to provide a significant economic boost to California. By providing an estimated $2.6 billion in additional wages to the state’s lowest-paid workers, California will reap $1 billion in new economic growth as workers spend their increased wages. Job growth will expand as businesses hire to meet the increased consumer demand.

Even at $10, low-wage workers will still struggle. We must continue to do everything possible to decrease economic inequality and provide opportunities for low-wage workers to move up the ladder. But the wage increase that passed last night establishes California as the national leader in supporting low-wage workers. That’s exactly where we should be.

Senate President pro Tempore Steinberg:

For millions of California’s hard-working minimum wage employees, a few extra dollars a week can make a huge difference to help them provide for their families. They deserve a modest boost and after six years; an increase in California’s minimum wage is the right thing to do.

Check out our Top 10 Reasons to Support a $10 Minimum Wage.

End of Session Marathon brings big progress

Last minute legislation is pouring through both chambers

by Brian Leubitz

Session is technically scheduled to start at close of business tomorrow. However, with Yom Kippur starting tomorrow at sunset, legislative leaders are hoping to close up shop tonight. There are a number key piece of legislation in play today. Here are a few highlights:

  • Gun safety – You can find a quick summary of the gun safety legislation in this WaPo article. Forgive the journalist his folly saying that the legislators could face political blowback. Apparently he thinks that the politics in Colorado is somehow a reasonable analog for California. It is not. However, here are a few highlights from the “LIFE ACT” (PDF):

    • require gun owners to report stolen guns within a week
    • further limits who can own a gun, and requires gun owners lock up their guns around people who aren’t eligible
    • limits assault rifles: semi-automatic magazines limited to ten rounds, increases registration requirements
  • Minimum wageLuis Alejo’s AB10 to increase the minimum wage to $10 by 2016 has the support of both legislative leaders and the Governor.
  • Domestic workersAsm. Tom Ammiano’s AB 241 domestic workers bill of rights would provide all domestic workers who care for California’s homes and families with some of the basic labor protections they have been denied for decades. The Senate passed it yesterday, but the Governor has not said anything about the bill. Which way he will go is unclear.
  • CEQA – It looks like at least some reform will get done. Sen. Steinberg’s SB 743 doesn’t completely overhaul the system, but it does ease restrictions on infill projects, especially ones close to public transit.
  • Bay Bridge – The Legislature passed a resolution to rename the Bay Bridge in honor of Willie Brown. The governor opposed it, on the basis that our names for the bridges are good enough as they are. However, as it is a resolution, the Governor doesn’t have a veto.

As somebody who uses the Bay Bridge frequently, I tend to agree with the Governor on this last one. It isn’t a new road, the name has been the same for the better part of three generations. While Willie Brown is certainly a legend to the state and the region, I liked the name Bay Bridge. I have to imagine that the old name won’t go away quickly.

There will surely be more to come as the legislative session wraps up this evening; I’ll try to update with anything major.

L.A. Times Misses the Story Behind Living Wage Campaigns

By Roxana Tynan

On Sunday the Los Angeles Times published a story about the important successes of campaigns to pass local minimum wage and living wage laws. However, while highlighting new developments that will impact local economies and the lives of workers, the Times missed the real story and forces behind this growing trend.

The piece focused on two ballot-box victories for living wage laws: a minimum wage for hotel workers in Long Beach and a citywide minimum wage increase in San Jose.

“The victories put these two California cities on the cusp of an emerging trend,” wrote Wesley Lowery. “Ballot initiatives, labor experts say, have the potential to rewrite labor’s playbook for how to win concessions from management.” Throughout the piece, Lowery presented the minimum wage ballot measures as a tactic put in place and managed from behind the scenes by labor leaders.

In fact, both measures were conceived and carried to victory by broad coalitions of people and organizations interested in improving their cities – together with key labor partners who see their role as improving the lot of all workers’ lives. The San Jose measure germinated in a San Jose State University class, whose students – none of them yet labor leaders to my knowledge – studied the concept in 2010 and presented what was to be taken up by a citywide movement. Groups such as the United Way of Silicon Valley, the NAACP of San Jose and the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley probably didn’t see themselves as puppets dancing on the strings of labor leaders; they no doubt saw themselves as partners with union members and leading organizations, such as Working Partnerships USA, in pursuing shared missions to mitigate poverty, address inequality and improve the lives of working people.

As with Long Beach, the labor movement was not “behind the scenes” but out front in partnership with community allies with a vision about how to improve our economy.

Dozens of small businesses jumped on board to support the Long Beach minimum wage for hotel workers. They recognized that higher pay for low-wage workers would immediately translate into more money spent locally – a natural stimulus for an economy struggling to leave the recession behind.

Long Beach residents felt that large hotels owed something to the community, since their success was supported in part by millions of dollars in taxpayer investment and development subsidies. In Long Beach, as in San Jose, students also played an important role. Students from Long Beach State University and local colleges and high schools bucked their generation’s reputation for political apathy, joined the movement and took leadership in shaping their communities.

Far beyond seeking “concessions from management,” supporters and voters saw these measures as concrete ways that voters could use to address economic problems and set their cities on a better course. At least as important as the narrative of these measures as a growing tactic is the story of the overwhelming support they found with the general public. The San Jose measure, which raised the minimum wage from California’s $8 to $10 per hour, passed with 58 percent of the vote, despite the opposition outspending supporters two to one. The Long Beach measure, setting a minimum wage of $13 per hour for workers in large hotels, passed with more than 64 percent of the vote.

These totals represent massive public support – it should be noted that every ballot measure starts with an uphill climb to pass it, as voters’ default vote is usually “No.” The biggest takeaway from Long Beach and San Jose should be that voters – residents, students and business owners – don’t find the status quo acceptable. Long Beach and San Jose voters, like all of us, live in an economy marked by extreme inequality and wages that don’t keep up with living costs, despite record profits for employers. When given an option of making concrete change — and shown the way forward by an energetic and diverse coalition – voters will embrace it.

To Live and Have Your Wages Stolen in LA

Crossposted from our Main Street blog.

Living on the minimum wage is difficult, to put it mildly. According to the Economic Policy Institute’s Heidi Shierholz,

At its peak in 1968, a full-time worker earning the minimum wage made $18,890 in May 2009 dollars, enough to keep a family of three over the poverty line. With a minimum wage of $7.25, a full-time worker earning the minimum wage will make $14,962, about a $4,000 pay cut from the 1968 level and well below the poverty threshold.

The inability of today’s minimum wage to alleviate poverty is even more striking when one considers that poverty researchers regard the poverty threshold as currently calculated to be vastly outdated and an inadequate measure of the income needed to make ends meet. Poverty experts often use twice the poverty line as a more accurate threshold for material deprivation. Another measure, developed by the Economic Policy Institute, is the “basic family budget,” or the amounts a family needs to feed, shelter, and clothe itself, get to work and school, and subsist in 21st century America. It is a paycheck-to-paycheck no-frills budget that includes no savings for retirement or college, no restaurant meals, and no funds for emergencies. A typical basic family budget for a family with one parent and two children is $40,273, about three times the income of a full-time minimum-wage worker.

So imagine you’re a minimum-wage worker…and you’re not even getting the minimum wage. A new study by Ruth Milkman, Ana Luz Gonzalez, and Victor Narro of the UCLA Institute on Labor and Employment found that in Los Angeles, almost 30% of low-wage workers had been paid less than the minimum wage in the preceding week. And we’re not talking pennies here:

The minimum wage violations were not trivial in magnitude: 63.3 percent of workers were underpaid by more than $1.00 per hour.

Think about that: You’re working. You’re there when they need you, doing what needs to be done. The wage you’re supposed to be getting would still leave you under the poverty line if your job is full time. And you’re being stiffed for a dollar an hour.

That’s not all. More than a fifth of the workers surveyed had worked more than 40 hours in the week for a single employer, and should have been getting overtime. Nearly 80% of those had not been paid the legally required overtime rate. That’s if they were paid at all – 17.6% had worked outside their scheduled shifts, and 71.2% of them hadn’t gotten paid for that time.

Again, this makes a difference to people’s ability to survive:

The various forms of nonpayment and underpayment of wages take a heavy monetary toll on workers and their families. L.A. respondents who experienced a pay-based violation in the previous work week lost an average of $39.81 out of average weekly earnings of $318.00, or 12.5 percent. Assuming a full-year work schedule, these workers lost an average of $2,070.00 annually due to workplace violations, out of total annual earnings of $16,536.00.

Think about what you can do with $2000. Now think what $2000 means if it’s 12% of your income. Or think how you’d feel if your boss was screwing you out of 12% of the income you were legally entitled to. I don’t know about you, but I’d be pissed.

Partial good news here is that we have a Secretary of Labor who actually cares about this, and wants to stop it.  

Soon after she became the nation’s labor secretary, Hilda Solis warned corporate America there was “a new sheriff in town.” Less than a year into her tenure, that figurative badge of authority is unmistakable.

Her aggressive moves to boost enforcement and crack down on businesses that violate workplace safety rules have sent employers scrambling to make sure they are following the rules.

–snip–

Garnering less attention, she just finished hiring 250 new investigators to protect workers from being cheated out of wage and overtime pay. She also started a new program that scrutinizes business records to make sure worker injury and illness reports are accurate. And she is proposing new standards to protect workers from industrial dust explosions – an effort the Bush administration had long resisted.

But given the scale of the violations the UCLA study found in LA alone, even 250 investigators is probably only a drop in the bucket of what’s needed.

Update On State Worker Salary Slash – Chiang Outflanks Arnold Again

You may remember that Arnold Schwarzenegger sued John Chiang in state court to follow his order, and his dream, of cutting all state worker salaries to the minimum wage while we wait for a budget.  The court date was set for September 12, which salvaged the salaries for the month of August.  Chiang’s next move was to partner with some labor allies and move the lawsuit into the federal courts.  This not only would delay the question of whether or not Chiang needs to follow the order, but removes a serious liability problem for the state, because if they slashed salaries per a state court order and then had it overturned by the feds, they would be on the hook for expensive penalties and payments.  

Now, this has become complete, with the state canceling the September 12 court date.

This afternoon, controller spokesman Jacob Roper delivered this bit of news via e-mail to the State Worker:

Since the case has moved to the Federal court, the Sept 12th superior court hearing will not be held. A group of labor organizations has filed a motion to move the case from the Eastern Federal district to the Northern district, and a hearing on that motion is scheduled for October 31.

Roper also restated the controller’s position that cutting salaries to minimum wage would be a massive, time-consuming reprogramming task, “so there is no reason to believe that minimum wage checks would be issued anytime soon.”

While the lingering budget crisis is still incredibly painful for all manner of Californians, with missed payments sure to come if nothing is settled by the end of the month, at least the state workers have John Chiang in their corner, fighting for their interests.  And this is mirrored by the stirring testimony of everyday workers who are losing their benefits and the control of their lives as the Yacht Party turns up its nose and turns its back on the people.  John Chiang is doing his part, and Republican rank and file citizens are putting on the pressure in selected districts; the only way to ultimately win this fight is at the ballot box.

Chiang’s Leadership

One of the few bright spots of this 8-week budget roller coaster has been the leadership of State Controller John Chiang, who stood up and simply said “no” to the shock doctrine tactics of the Governor and his attempts to slash state worker salaries to the minimum wage and eliminate the jobs of thousands of others.  Schwarzenegger’s talk of compromise among the legislature and right-wing Republicans didn’t extend to state workers, and he took Chiang to court to force him to uphold his executive order.  As a result of Chiang at least offering resistance, the workers have a reprieve for August.

State workers targeted by a gubernatorial order to cut their pay to federal minimum wage have dodged that bullet – at least for August.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge Wednesday set a hearing to decide the pay dispute for Sept. 12, too late to affect this month’s state payroll.

Judge Timothy Frawley’s timetable ensures that 145,000 state employees and an additional 30,000 managers and supervisors will receive full pay for August.

This doesn’t happen unless Chiang goes to back for those employees.  And the grassroots in California is grateful.  Frank Russo reports on a meeting in Oakland:

California Controller John Chiang spoke to the Alameda County Democratic Lawyer’s Club yesterday at a small restaurant in Oakland and had a lot to say about the state employee pay order. But he had a lot more to say, about his approach to government, helping average Californians, and his values and philosophy about government while speaking for over a half hour without notes and then taking questions.

From the beginning, he was treated as a rock star-introduced by club President Meredith Brown, as “the man who stood up to the man.” He covered a lot of territory-and was paid rapt attention as he challenged this body of lawyers to continue their good work for the betterment of society. He even worked in themes from the Obama campaign, as he prepares to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and appear on the national stage. Josh Richman, a reporter and “blogger” for the Oakland Tribune attended this meeting and you can see his write up for a feel of what transpired as well.

Read the whole thing for Chiang’s comments, which are great.  Hopefully he’ll repeat them at the DNC this week.  Amazing what can happen to Democrats if they stand up for themselves, isn’t it?

UPDATE: The big issue, as Russo details in a separate post, is making sure this case is decided in federal court and not state court.  Otherwise, California could be on the hook for billions in fines.  Read the post at the link.