CalNonprofits Articles

Many California nonprofits have employees -- in childcare, health, job training, recreation and other fields -- whose wages are set in the government contracts with the nonprofit. As a result, many nonprofits have recently found themselves between a rock -- the state-mandated increase in the minimum wage -- and another rock: government contracts that only reimburse at minimum wage.

Cindy Duenas photoCindy Duenas, Executive Director of the 200+ staff person Center for Human Services in Modesto, took action when the first step in the increase took place several months ago. She went to a meeting of the county Child Abuse Prevention Council to make a presentation about a crisis shelter program for teens. But she didn't stop there:

She also explained that mandated increases to the minimum wage had dramatically increased the program's costs. And because the crisis shelter has to provide 24 hour coverage for a highly vulnerable population, staff cutbacks were not an option.

The response? The council members voted right then and there to give the program the extra funding to cover the costs of paying the higher minimum wage. As Cindy Duenas says, "If we don't let our funders know about issues like mandated wage increases and the effect on our budgets, they may not realize the impact. If we educate and inform our funding partners that maintaining the same level of service for our programs requires a larger budget because of new minimum wage laws, they will support us.”

With another increase in the minimum wage scheduled for January 1 of 2016, now is the time for nonprofits to raise the issue to their funders.

CalNonprofits survey and position
CalNonprofits recently surveyed our members to help guide us in forming our recommendations on minimum wage increases and found that our members not only support increased minimum wages, but are eager to work with city and state officials on both legislation and implementation.

We believe that all workers deserve an adequate wage and that raising wage floors is an important and effective tool for reducing poverty in our communities. At the same time, as the “Chamber of Commerce” representing the nonprofit sector in California, CalNonprofits has identified crucial aspects of implementation so that increases do not inadvertently hurt poor families or create fiscal problems for nonprofits.

By the way, Cindy Duenas is also a board member of the California Association of Nonprofits, where she serves as Membership Chair. Thank you, Cindy, for sharing this story with us!


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