SACRAMENTO, April 1 (UPI) — California legislators quickly approved a bill that would raise the state minimum wage to $15 over several years, and sent the legislation to Governor Jerry Brown, who is expected to sign it.
The deal comes just days after Brown and state labor leaders worked out a deal of their own, and in time to avert what would have been a costly ballot measure.
The legislation will give California the highest minimum wage in the country and be a major victory to organized labor.
“The credit for making history today belongs to the workers who spoke out and risked it all, the labor unions and community organizations who supported them, and elected leaders here in California who listened,” said Laphonza Butler, Service Employees International Union Local 2015 president, in a statement. “As a result, millions of Californians are on the path out of poverty.”
The minimum wage hike for businesses with at least 26 employees, would occur each year, with a raise to $10.50 in 2017, then $11 in 2018 and another dollar each year until 2022.
But it could continue to rise with inflation after that.
Smaller businesses would have an extra year to implement each raise. For in-home health aides, the bill also provide three sick days.
When fully implemented, the wage hike would cost California about $4 billion a year, according to the Department of Finance.
Part of the deal that Brown made to make the bill possible was a provision that allows governors to postpone the annual increase in a slow economy.
Economists estimate the bill would increase the pay of 5.6 million workers in California, or about 1 in 3.
Two labor-led ballot measures could have increased minimum wage more quickly, but the threat of those initiatives forced Brown to negotiate the deal. He had been reluctant to raise the wage before the current bill was near a vote.