California to raise minimum wage to $15/hr

Mar 28, 2016, 5:54 PM EDT
California Governor Jerry Brown.
(Source: Bay Area Council/flickr)

California plans to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr, becoming the nation's highest.

Reuters reports:

California Governor Jerry Brown said on Monday he had reached a deal with top legislators and labor leaders to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15, the latest in a wave of minimum wage increases at the state level following a push by Democrats. The proposal, which still must win approval from moderate lawmakers in the California assembly, would gradually raise the state's minimum wage to $15, but give the governor the right to opt out if the economy faltered. Such a move would give California the highest statewide minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour for more than six years. Raising the minimum wage has cropped up on many Democratic Party candidates' agendas ahead of the November presidential, congressional and state elections. The issue could help mobilize Democratic voters and galvanize support from labor unions. "An agreement has been reached with key labor leaders, legislative leaders and my administration to raise the minimum wage over time to $15 an hour, making California the first state to do that," Brown said at a press conference in Sacramento. "It's a matter of economic justice and it makes sense," Brown said. The deal would commit California to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 for large businesses and 2023 for smaller firms.

USA Today writes:

About a dozen cities have approved bumps in their minimum wages to $15, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and several other municipalities in California. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a $15 pay floor for New York City starting in 2019 and across the state by 2021. A plan is already in place to hike wages for fast-food and state government workers in both New York City and the state. Increases to $15 in New York and California “clearly would create national momentum for other states to follow their lead,” particularly Democratic- leaning coastal states, said Paul Sonn, NELP’s general counsel.

ABC News notes:

California voters could potentially weigh in on this issue in November. Last week, California's secretary of state certified 402,468 signatures collected by unions like the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW). These groups have advocated that California residents vote on The Fair Wage Act of 2016, which would raise the state's minimum wage to $11 next year and gradually raise it a dollar each year until it reaches $15 by 2021. This ballot measure calls for the wage to be automatically adjusted annually to keep up with the state's cost of living.