Capitol Alert

Playing the odds, Gavin Newsom endorses rival minimum wage hikes

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom shares his vision on higher education during a discussion moderated by Sacramento Bee Publisher Cheryl Dell on Monday, May 18, 2015, hosted by Zócalo Public Square, at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom shares his vision on higher education during a discussion moderated by Sacramento Bee Publisher Cheryl Dell on Monday, May 18, 2015, hosted by Zócalo Public Square, at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has been all over the minimum wage debate.

Now, as labor unions pitch competing measures, Newsom is playing every available card.

On Tuesday morning, he joined San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and labor activists as they submitted signatures for their initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021. The proposal, endorsed by Newsom in November and led by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, would be adjusted annually to keep pace with the cost of living.

“By gradually raising the state’s minimum wage to $15, California can lead the country with a living wage for millions of working people and their families,” Newsom, a candidate for governor in 2018, said in a statement. “Children shouldn’t be going to bed hungry because their parents earn the minimum wage.”

Within hours of his appearance in San Francisco, a rival measure to boost the base wage to $15 an hour by 2020, this one led by SEIU California, put out a press release of its own also claiming Newsom as a supporter. SEIU California’s initiative includes six paid six days per year, and its 700,000 workers are seen as a key political ally in contested statewide campaigns.

“I’m proud to stand with the workers who are leading the Fight for $15 and ask California voters to join us,” Newsom said in that statement. “Together we can pass this measure and give hope to millions who are working their hearts out so the next generation can live the California Dream.”

Asked Tuesday about the dual endorsements, Newsom spokesman Dan Newman said “He supports raising the minimum wage. Period.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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