SJ miniumum wage initiative supporters submit signatures

SAN JOSE, Calif.

They must meet a minimum threshold of 19,200 signatures, said Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton, a professor at San Jose State University.

"We're pretty confident that we have the 19,200 signatures in our hands," he said.

According to San Jose City Clerk Dennis Hawkins, the signatures will be given an initial review by his office before being handed over to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters for further verification.

The idea for the campaign came about roughly a year ago in Myers-Lipton's social justice classes, where students discussed minimum wage issues.

From there, a class project by four students snowballed into an effort that now involves the South Bay Labor Council, Working Partnerships USA, Sacred Heart Community Services, the NAACP, Human Agenda, and about 100 students from San Jose State University and De Anza College, Myers-Lipton estimates.

The minimum-wage issue is especially relevant to students, Myers-Lipton said, because many are working up to 30 hours a week to pay for their tuition.

He also credited recent "Occupy" protests for bringing attention to issues of economic justice.

"There's a larger story here about democracy," Myers-Lipton said.

He said he believes the project is unique because students are "working within the democratic process. They're not out protesting, they decided to actually change an economic policy by using the ballot."

Myers-Lipton also noted that it is unusual to have a community-led initiative in San Jose that garners enough support to reach voters.

Toni Taber, assistant city clerk, agreed that "nothing like this has been done in the last five years, at least."

Myers-Lipton said the initiative has received overwhelming support and that he hopes San Jose can follow the example set by cities like San Francisco and Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the hourly minimum wages are $10.24 and $10.29 respectively.

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