Our History: Workers Rights’ Committee

Our History

Many of our elected officials pride themselves at the fact that California is considered the sixth largest economy in the World. But what does that really look for Pasadenans? It looks like this – the poorest 20% of our residents control about 2.5% of the wealth in our city, while the richest 20% of the population controls over 50% of the wealth.

In simple terms, it means that for the rest of the nation we are the City of Roses but for our families and neighbors we are a city with a widening income gulf characterized by low wages and sky-high rents.

But many of us noticed this. We noticed when our neighbors left and moved to more affordable cities, some even out of state. We noticed when many of our students suddenly dropped out of school, sometimes in the middle of the school year, because their parents could no longer afford to pay the rent. And we noticed when the workers who keep our city beautiful and vibrant could not even afford to eat at the places where they worked, or buy simple necessities for their children.

For two years, the Pasadena Livable Wage committee (now Pasadenans Organizing for Progress) worked tirelessly to make our elected officials notice those stories and hear those voices that had been ignored for too long. In 2016, the Pasadena City Council finally noticed and unanimously adopted a minimum wage increase that applies to all workers employed in the City of Pasadena. 

On July 1, 2016, the Pasadena Minimum Wage was increased to $10.50 per hour for business with more than 25 employees, followed by an increase to $12.00 per hour on July 1, 2017, and a third increase to $13.25 per hour becoming effective on July 1, 2018. For smaller businesses (25 or fewer employees) the minimum wage increased to $10.50 on July 1 2017. This means that these businesses have an additional year to comply.

Unfortunately, not everyone is happy with the increase, and some employers have lobbied the mayor and councilmembers heavily to stop the Pasadena increases in July of 2019, when the City is set to review the impact of the increase and decide whether to continue increasing the wage until it reaches $15 per hour, or defer to the state’s slower increases.

If you are interested in joining the Workers’ Rights Committee, please contact workersrights@poppasadena.org