The California minimum wage will gradually increase to $15 an hour by 2022 for the vast majority of the state’s workers, according to a deal reached between union and state lawmaker negotiators on March 26, 2016. Protestors and minimum wage workers have been fighting for this increase for several years. It could become one of the highest minimum wages in the U.S., unless other states follow in California’s footsteps.
The financial situation for millions of minimum wage workers in California is expected to improve over the next few years. In a deal reached on March 26, 2016 between state lawmakers and labor unions, the California minimum wage will gradually increase to $15 between now and 2022.
On Monday, March 28, 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown officially announced the new minimum wage agreement. The compromise deal was reached after numerous polls indicated that California voters would support a minimum wage increase, including options that were even more generous than this one.
According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the minimum wage will initially rise from the current level of $10 an hour to $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2017.
The minimum wage will go up to $11 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018. Each January 1 after that, the minimum wage will go up $1 an hour until 2022. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees will have an extra year, until 2023, to comply. At that time, all employees in the state should be earning a minimum of $15 an hour. In the following years, the minimum wage will continue to rise, linked to the rate of inflation.
If the state economy slows down, the governor will have the ability to temporarily suspend or slow down the rate of the minimum wage increases.
Another feature of the bill is that it will guarantee most wage earners three days of sick leave a year.
Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, told the Associated Press that they hope this deal will help the state avoid having the issue on the November ballot. One union-backed initiative has already qualified to be on the ballot and another group is in the process of collecting signatures so that their competing initiative could also be on the ballot. The initiative backed by the union, Heathcare Workers West, will remain on the ballot for the time being, until the new agreement has actually been signed into law. At that time, the union’s board will decide if they are prepared to remove their initiative from the ballot.
Sen. Leno said, “This is an issue I’ve been working on for many years. The governor and stakeholders have all been negotiating earnestly and in good faith for some time.”
With the current minimum wage of $10 an hour, California already had one of the highest minimum wages in the United States. Massachusetts also has a $10 minimum wage; Washington, D.C. has a minimum wage that is slightly higher at $10.50.
The new minimum wage could become the highest in the country by 2022, although other states also have similar bills in the works. There are rumors that the State of New York could announce a similar agreement in the next few days.
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