The Pasadena City Council voted 7-1 Monday, February 11, to continue raising the City’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.  This means workers in businesses with 26 or more employees will get a raise to $14.25 in July, 2019 and $15 in July, 2020.  Workers in smaller businesses will get the same raises one year later. The action affirms the unanimous decision they made in 2016 establishing a local ordinance creating the path to $15/hour by 2020.

The advocates for raising the minimum wage, led by Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP!), the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON), and workers at the Pasadena Job Center, mobilized more than 250 people to attend the council meeting at Pasadena City Hall. The victory was the culmination of a six-month grassroots organizing campaign led by POP! and NDLON with the support of many organizations and individuals. POP! is a multi-issue nonprofit community organization whose mission is to make Pasadena a more just, fair, and inclusive city.

“Mayor Tornek and the City Council proved Monday night with their votes that Pasadena is more than the City of Roses, it is a city of raises,” said Ed Washatka, a POP! Board Member. 

Among the more than 50 speakers during public comment were several low-wage workers who shared the hardship of living on minimum wage incomes, especially with Pasadena’s high cost of housing. There were also several youth who attended the meeting who described how they work to support their families. 

Other speakers in support of the path to $15/hour included representatives from the League of Women Voters, NAACP, the LA County Federation of Labor, All Saints Church, the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, SEIU, UNITE HERE, United Teachers of Pasadena, the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles, the YWCA, Day One, United Food and Commercial Workers, the LA and Orange County Building Trades Council, the Democratic Party, the Pasadena Tenants Union.

Additionally, Pasadena Unified School Board Members, Larry Torres (President) and Pat Cahalan (Vice President) spoke out in support, joining Board Member Elizabeth Pomeroy who expressed her support to the Council at a previous meeting.

The city’s 2016 minimum wage law set the city on the same schedule as the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County. But unlike those two jurisdictions, the Pasadena law included a “pause,” to take place in February 2019. At Monday night’s meeting, the Mayor reminded his Council colleagues that the “pause” was designed to see if the minimum wage had created any economic “catastrophes” or if the larger economy was in the midst of a serious recession. Neither of those things occurred, Tornek said, leading him to join six of his colleagues in support of raising the city’s minimum wage.

POP! would like to express thanks to all community partners and individuals who participated in the campaign, and appreciation to the Pasadena City Council and Mayor for their bold and courageous leadership.

Juliana Serrano, POP! Board Member and staff at All Saints Church said “The true winners of this effort are the low wage workers who will now have higher wages because Pasadena decided to do the right thing.  All work is dignified and worthy of just wages. Pasadena has officially declared this through policy.”