Photo by 401kcalculator.org
Photo by 401kcalculator.org

On a day when hundreds of janitors and their supporters marched through Beverly Hills in a call for higher salaries, the state Legislature Thursday approved a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.

The proposal now moves to Gov. Jerry Brown, who plans to sign it during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday in downtown Los Angeles.

“California is proving once again that it can get things done and help people get ahead,” Brown said earlier this week when a deal with legislators was announced earlier this week. “This plan raises the minimum wage in a careful and responsible way and provides some flexibility if economic and budgetary conditions change.”

Under the proposal, California’s $10-an-hour minimum wage will increase to $10.50 in January 2017, then to $11 on Jan. 1, 2018. The minimum wage will then go up by a dollar in each of the following years until it reaches $15 in 2022, after which it will 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.

“One of the most basic elements of our social contract and one of the ideas upon which our society is based is the fundamental notion that if you get a job and work hard you will be able to support your family,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, said. “While California’s economy is growing, some of our hardest-working Californians have been left behind. California’s economic benefits must be shared by the people whose hard work is helping fuel our growth.”

The wage hike will affect 5.6 million workers, or about one-third of the statewide workforce, officials said.

The proposal is similar, although slightly slower, than an already- approved increased in the city of Los Angeles minimum wage. Under the city ordinance, the minimum wage will increase to $10.50 on July 1 and eventually reach $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.

Republicans and business leaders oppose the statewide minimum-wage hike, arguing it will lead to businesses reducing the size of their work force or increasing prices to cover the costs of the increased wages.

“This bill will add to the challenges that include recent Affordable Care Act mandates, recent minimum wage increases, new mandatory paid sick leave and increases in workers’ compensation,” Assemblyman Bill Brough, R-Dana Point, said. “Small business workers’ compensation is based on payroll. As payroll increases so does workers’ comp. This isn’t even considering local permits and other regulatory agencies small businesses have to comply with.”

But supporters, primarily Democrats, rallied behind the proposal, saying workers earning minimum wage should be able to pay for basic necessities.

“Wages are not keeping pace with the cost of living in California. Income inequality continues to grow,” said Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. “This proposal will help millions of hard-working Californians while protecting taxpayers and small businesses if the economy experiences a downturn. We can be prudent and make sure workers are paid a reasonable, livable wage at the same time. It doesn’t have to be a choice.”

The Legislature’s votes coincided with a march in Beverly Hills by unionized janitors urging the Legislature to approve the deal — and to ensure the increase benefits immigrants and women workers “who are often vulnerable to exploitation and harassment on the job.”

Labor unions are pushing two separate ballot initiatives aimed at raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Backers of one of the initiatives have said they will drop their effort if the Legislature approves the minimum wage hike. Backers of the other initiative said they are waiting until the governor signs the bill before deciding whether to drop their measure.

— Wire reports 

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