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Irvine Passes Living Wage Law

Had I been in town, I would have posted on this much sooner, but I’m pleased that the Irvine City Council majority passed the Living Wage law. 

What’s a Living Wage?

Definition: A policy requiring employers to increase hourly wages of any employees paid below a certain hourly rate.
Hourly rate: Typically a living wage is set so that on a full-time basis, wages are equal to or greater than the amount required to bring a family of four above the federal poverty line. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2006 guidelines indicate $20,000 as the poverty threshold for a family of four.
Living wage: The first living wage ordinance was enacted in Baltimore in 1994. As of May 2005, about 130 jurisdictions in the nation had passed some form of a living wage ordinance. Of California’s 478 incorporated cities, 20 have passed some form of living wage ordinance.
Sources: HayGroup study of living wages, ACORN Living Wage Resource Center

So businesses doing work with the city will now be required to pay their employees at least $10 an hour or a minumum of $400 a week of $20,800 per year.

The NO twins of Dr. Choi and Christina Shea, of course, voted NO, on this proposal.  The Register reports that Choi’s reason for voting no is that he does not want Irvine taxpayers to pay for higher salaries and benefits for people who may not live in Irvine.  Newsflash for Dr. Choi: I don’t see many people earning $20K a year living in Irvine. 

Shea, as usual, doesn’t like the law because a better one could have been passed.  Not that she actually came up with anything better, but like her support for mass transit, Councilwoman Shea has yet to offer any positive concrete proposal for something better than the council voted on.  This issue has been on the table for some time.  But no counter proposal from the council minority.  Aren’t the Republicans supposed to be the party of ideas?


  1. ACORN is F'd ACORN is F'd May 25, 2007

    Just an FYI

    ACORN might do research on wages, but you should see what they pay there own organizers.

    A living wage for ACORN workers!!!!

  2. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski May 25, 2007

    I missed the part on how ACORN does work for the City of Irvine….

  3. Flowerszzz Flowerszzz May 26, 2007

    wow we can all rest easy now knowing that the minimum wage jobs, designed for teens and for younger workers designed as stepping stones to better jobs are all now being paid $2.25 more then the rest of the County. Whew!

    Does that mean when I drive thru Taco bell I will be able to better understand the person asking me for my order?

  4. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski May 26, 2007

    I missed the part where Taco Bell employees work for the city. And last summer, I believe the city never filled all the available summer jobs designated for teens and younger workers.

  5. Art Pedroza Art Pedroza May 26, 2007

    Isn’t it funny that a Republican city like Irvine has a Democrat majority council, and they actually are progressive and get things done. Whereas the Democrats on the Santa Ana City Council are led by corporatist Mayor Miguel Pulido – who has made a career of accomplishing only that which serves the elite in our city. What a joke.

  6. FLowerszzz FLowerszzz May 26, 2007

    I disagree….perhaps I worded wrong but minimum wage jobs are for those with no experience in the work field – IMO. I had a minimum wage job as a teen, when I had no work experience yet – so perhaps that is where I drew my conclusion that they are designed for teens. If you are in your 20’s+ and can only get a minimum wage job…there is something wrong. Either you are just getting your first job, have no experience in the field you are persuing, education or lack there of, or you are in fact hard to employ (difficult to get along with, problem with authority, don’t speak english well…) or perhaps I guess you could be an older american, looking to supplement your social security.

    I don’t pay my workers minimum wage, we pay well above but again depends on your experience, attitude, etc.

  7. Jubal Jubal May 26, 2007

    Here’s my counter-proposal: why don’t Agran-Krom-Kang stop playing “social justice crusader” with other peoples’ money?

    And why stop at $10? Or why $10? These are arbitrary numbers picked out of thin air. Well, at least Larry, Beth, Sukhee and their liberal cheerleaders can feel good about themselves at the expense of others. It’s the liberal way!

  8. RHackett RHackett May 26, 2007

    Jubal. Given how Beth and Larry continually get re-elected by significant margins it could be argued they represent their constituents.

    Surely you of all people understand that very basic tenet of our democratic process.

  9. Art Pedroza Art Pedroza May 26, 2007


    Please. It is high comedy every election year in Irvine to see how the Reeps get their heads handed to them by the Democrats. You guys are going to have to beat them before you can cry about their policies – and so far it doesn’t look like your party know how to do that.

    It makes me wonder if Chuck DeVore is going to be able to win reelection next time around.

  10. Flowerszzz Flowerszzz May 27, 2007

    Oh and Pedroza – truth be told – I am probably more of a libertarian then republican….but I think you and I have discussed that before.

  11. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski May 27, 2007

    Matt —
    Back to your response on the Irvine council majority playing around with other people’s money; businesses who seek city contracts have every right to pay their workers more. If they feel paying $10 an hour is too much, they can decline to bid.

    Have you ever seen the hoops federal government contracts make bidders jump through?

    And yet, when Republicans want to give returning soliders free tuition at state universities, colleges and community colleges or pump up the National Guard, isn’t that also playing with other people’s money?

    Very curious why when its comes from the right its the right thing to do, but never in reverse.

  12. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski May 27, 2007

    Flowerz, I work just as hard for my home too. I just believe the priorities of Democrats more closely reflect where and how my tax dollars should be spent. As far as the Irvine Living wage issue goes, you commented on private sectory jobs and not jobs from city contractors. And Matt, I think I’d be happy to pay $20 a hour in order to get a city contract, but PR workfor city government isn’t my business model.

  13. Allan Bartlett Allan Bartlett May 27, 2007

    If you’re not an entry level employee anymore and you’re still working for minimum wage….well….consider yourself a loser in the game of life.

  14. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski May 28, 2007

    Flowerzz — the Living wage in Irvine applies to businesses seeking city contracts. There are a number of requirements a business must achieve in order to be eligible to bid the business in the first place (like they must have insurance etc. etc.). The Living Wage just says that a business must pay employees involved in city contracts a minimum of $10 an hour. Its a pretty simply concept. Why object to this and not other requirements for city contracts? And if you don’t want to pay $10 an hour, then don’t bid on city business. Freedom of choice, right?

  15. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski May 29, 2007

    Because $10 is still more than minimum wage which Republicans continue to fight no matter how much enery, housing and healthcare costs increase.

    Imagine if they mandated $20 an hour; the cry from the Right would be unbelievable.

  16. just...asking just...asking May 31, 2007

    Many of the bloggers who complain about Irvine’s living wage are the same ones who want to build fences/walls and stop immigration. Just who do you think is working for those construction and gardening companies who make less than $10 bucks an hour? And if you say its just our kids in high school, I’d say to you why is any city subsidizing firms who exploit cheap labor, even kids?

    When these firms bid for city contracts they don’t spell out that the’ll use inexperianced employees. City’s pay a premium for contracted services, taxpayers should expect and deserve quality services by reputable companies.

    I’ve seen many agencies bids, and have never once seen one that says “we hire kids and possibly undocumented workers to provide your gardening services”. But who else would be working for less than $10/hr for this type of work?

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