Labor activists, state lawmakers and local leaders, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Monday hailed a deal struck with Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislative and labor leaders to raise California’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022.
Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said he is “pleased that we have a deal in place that will raise living standards for millions of Californians, while also spurring new demand for goods and services and helping businesses thrive.”
The wage hike would affect 5.6 million workers, or about a third of the statewide workforce, de Leon said.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, says he sees “a lot of good in the deal.”
“If we can come together behind this compromise, it will address the need to move to a $15 minimum wage while eliminating the chance that costly or competing campaigns could mean that no increase initiative passes,” he said.
The state deal to raise the minimum wage follows the lead of Los Angeles, and continues to put the pressure on national leaders to approve a hike to the federal minimum wage, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“While Washington watches, cities and states act,” he said. “Gov. Brown, Speaker (Anthony) Rendon, President pro Tem de Leon and labor leaders across our state took decisive action to give more Californians a chance to join the middle class. City by city, state by state, we can confront the scourge of income inequality and make a difference in the lives of millions of families.”
Los Angeles city’s minimum wage is set to go up six months sooner than the state’s first planned increase — to $10.50 on July 1 and eventually reaching $15 per hour in 2020, with future increases pegged to the Consumer Price Index.
The same wage hike schedule was also adopted for the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.
Other California cities have also enacted wage increases, some even earlier than Los Angeles. San Jose’s wage rose to $10.30 per hour in Jan. 1, 2015, and is set to continue climbing depending on the CPI.
San Francisco’s minimum hourly wage, now at $12.25, will go up to $13 on July 1 and to $15 in 2018, followed by further increases based on CPI, under a measure approved by that city’s voters in 2014.
Brown said the compromise deal, which his administration reached over the weekend with key labor and legislative leaders, “raises the minimum wage in a careful and responsible way and provides some flexibility if economic and budgetary conditions change.”
The first hike — to $10.50 — is set to go into effect in January 2017, rising to $11 on Jan. 1, 2018. The minimum wage would then go up by a dollar in each of the following years until it reaches $15 in 2022, after which it would continue to rise each year by up to 3.5 percent to account for inflation.
Businesses with 25 or fewer employees get an extra year to raise their wage, so that workers will be paid $15 by 2023.
The plan also gives the governor the ability to temporarily halt the raises if there is a forecasted budget deficit of more than one percent of annual revenue, or due to poor economic conditions such as declines in jobs and retail sales.
Government workers who provide in-home health services will receive an additional three paid sick days under the plan.
The deal comes after two separate ballot initiatives were started by labor unions to raise the statewide minimum wage from $10 to $15 per hour. Labor officials behind one of the campaigns said they plan to withdraw their proposed measure once the state is signed into law.
Laphonza Butler, president of Service Employees International Union California, said the deal was the result of efforts by fast-food workers, home care providers, early childhood educators and other workers who “made history and delivered hope to millions of families struggling to get by on wages too low to live and without benefits such as sick days.”
“SEIU California’s 700,000 workers are proud to have fought alongside the ‘Fight for $15’ to show the world that when workers stand together, we can improve the lives of our families and create a fairer economy,” Butler said. “California elected leaders have demonstrated the leadership the nation is looking for.”
The proponents behind the other proposed ballot measure, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, are still weighing whether to withdraw their minimum wage initiative.
“We all know it’s a long way from a proposal to a final measure that becomes law, so we don’t intend to take an action on our initiative until it is finalized,” SEIU-UHW Executive Board member Ruby Olivas said.
“There are a lot of details to understand, particularly around the ‘pause button’ provisions,” she said. “We made a sober and deliberate decision last April to file our initiative, and once all the details are known about the new law, we will make a sober and deliberate decision on whether to withdraw it.”
Rusty Hicks, the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, called the deal “a great victory for California, coming off the heels of our victories in Southern California.”
He added that the “agreement also shows that the great strength of our labor movement is felt in every corner of our state.”
But Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, voiced his opposition to the wage deal, saying the state’s “high poverty rate” is due to the difficulty of operating a business in California.
“Instead of adding more road blocks for businesses, we must, first, develop an overall plan for economic competitiveness that will rebuild our economy,” he said. “But, absent that blueprint, we have no way of knowing if this minimum wage hike will help or hurt workers and the job growth which California families need.”
The statewide minimum wage rose to $10 per hour in Jan. 1 and no additional increases had been planned prior to the announcement of the deal.
— Wire reports
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