Leading a charge that is expected to ripple across the country, California governor Jerry Brown and the state legislature struck a deal Monday to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 per hour over the course of the next six years. While San Francisco and Los Angeles have already passed local ordinances to do so sooner (SF by 2018, and LA by 2020), municipalities statewide will have to catch by 2022 and the way things are going, by that time $15 is likely to buy about as much as $10 does today, i.e. the current state minimum hourly wage.
As USA Today reports, the deal would boost the wages of 6.5 million Californians beginning in 2017, when the minimum will rise to $10.50. It will go to $11 in 2018, then go up a dollar each year to $15/hr in 2022. The deal will still need to pass through both houses of the CA legislature, but chances of it passing look pretty good, says the LA Times.
A tentative deal was struck late last week, as the AP and LA Times reported, and today Brown gave a news conference with legislators in Sacramento to make it official. Per the Times, Brown said this is "a matter of economic justice," and "It makes sense."
The timetable for the wage hike marks a compromise, given that labor leaders already had a state proposition qualified for the 2016 ballot that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 by 2021. Brown also got a caveat written into the deal: If statewide unemployment or the state has a projected deficit in its budget in the first few years of the agreement, the minimum wage hikes will go on pause.
Brown said that the current deal "is the result of a lot of thinking," and it's been written "in a way that takes into account the vagaries of the capitalistic economy.
Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage remains $7.25, where it has been stuck due to the efforts of Republicans in Congress since 2009. Oregon recently raised their state minimum to $15, and Seattle and some other California municipalities have done similarly with the city of Berkeley recently talking about hiking theirs to $19, though they later nixed that idea. There's currently a proposal from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to raise the state's minimum to $15/hr by 2021, with the New York City minimum hitting that mark by 2019.
Back in 2014, as both SF and LA were mulling their own minimum wage hikes, an anti-minimum wage campaign went up in both cities, funded by the conservative Employment Policies Institute and spearheaded by "evil" PR mastermind Rick Berman, who also does work to fight anti-smoking groups, teachers' unions, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and "nanny-state" bans of all kinds, as 60 Minutes reported.* The billboards threatened restaurant workers and teens with the notion that any rise in wages means that some of them will simply lose their jobs.
* This post has been corrected to show that, according to Berman's reps, he has not done any work on behalf of the tobacco industry.