California Minimum Wage 2017: Lawmakers, Labor Unions Reach Agreement To Raise Minimum To $15 An Hour

The minimum wage in California will rise to $10.50 per hour in 2017 and then gradually to $15 over the next few years. On Saturday afternoon, a deal was made between lawmakers and labor unions to increase the statewide minimum wage. The deal is expected to be officially announced on Monday by Governor Jerry Brown.

“This is an issue I’ve been working on for many years,” Senator Mark Leno said. “The governor and stakeholders have all been negotiating earnestly and in good faith for some time.”

While the governor signed a bill to increase the minimum wage in 2013, he has since fought efforts to raise it further. The governor has expressed fear that additional increases would put a strain on the state’s already stressed budget and a damper on economic growth.

Governor Brown of California and labor unions agreed on a gradual increase in the minimum wage.
However, to avoid a battle at the ballot box, the intention of the proposed wage compromise is to settle several disagreements between California’s state legislature, the governor, and some very powerful labor unions. As many polls indicate that voters would likely approve a minimum wage increase, the unions have been pushing for several measures and recently two union-sponsored initiatives qualified for the November 8 ballot.

According to an LA Times report, California’s statewide minimum wage will increase from $10 an hour to $10.50 on January 1, 2017. Then another $.50 increase will happen in 2018, followed by $1-per-year raises through 2022. However, any business with 25 or fewer employees will get until 2023 to reach $15 an hour.

In addition to a wage increase, the deal also gives workers in the public sector who provide in-home care to the disabled three more paid sick days. After 2022, California’s minimum wage would be tied to inflation, yet the governor can provisionally block any increases should poor economic conditions warrant such a freeze.

California’s legislature still has to approve the statewide 2017 wage increase, but insiders say this should happen by the end of the week. If it passes, it could add fuel to supporters of the campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 nationwide.

The proposed agreement does not prevent local communities from raising wages even further. The statewide minimum is simply the base level of wages and cities can choose to go over and above. San Francisco has already taken aggressive steps to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018.

Several states like California are working toward a higher minimum wage statewide.
While the agreement seems to be moving forward, union leaders aren’t necessarily stopping the planned ballot initiatives. The SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West is still pushing their proposal that has already been qualified for the ballot.

“Ours is on the ballot. We want to be certain of what all this is,” said Sean Wherley, a spokesman for the union. “We are going ahead with it. If some agreement is signed into law, then our executive board would decide what to do. They would only make that decision after any agreement is signed into law.”

Besides California, other states have taken on wage increase proposals. In Oregon, lawmakers recently approved a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour for workers in urban areas. Additionally, some cities like Seattle and New York City have passed ordinances requiring a $15 minimum wage.

Other states have gone against the grain and enacted laws prohibiting local governments from raising the minimum wage. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Alabama’s governor signed a bill last month preventing cities and towns from setting their own wage after the city of Birmingham raised it to $10.10.

In 2017, California’s minimum wage will rise to $10.50, making it one of the highest in the nation, alongside Massachusetts and Washington D.C. While several other states are considering wage increases, the boost to $15 an hour would make it the highest nationwide by a substantial margin.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]