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California On Its Way to $15.00 Minimum Wage

April 4, 2016

By Scott J. Wenner

The $15.00 minimum wage has been the goal of a loud and active national movement for some time now. A report by the Los Angeles Times of a California-style deal between unions and the California legislature suggest that a 50% hike in the present $10.00 an hour state floor on wages will be phased in by 2022. Small employers will be given an additional year to comply. It appears that the lawmakers involved knuckled under to the unions in part to avoid losing control of the issue (and credit for its passage); union leaders had threatened to use California’s initiative process to put the substantial minimum wage hike on the ballot in November, and reports claimed that more than two-thirds of voters supported its passage.

According to The Times, the legislature could vote on the deal within weeks. Governor Brown’s office has announced that the Governor will meet with unnamed leaders on the issue in the near future.

Reports on the proposal note that the Governor may postpone temporarily the phased increases contemplated if the economy falters. In addition, once the $15.00 minimum wage is reached, future increases in that rate would be linked to inflation – a provision found in many state minimum wage laws – which obviates the need for legislation each time an increase in the minimum wage is sought.

One question to consider in the likely event that the minimum wage deal comes to fruition is whether those California cities that have passed “living wage” laws that push the minimum wage to levels higher than state laws require will be tempted to raise their minimum wage levels in response to the state action. Advocates no doubt will argue that workers in San Francisco, Los Angeles and other high cost areas deserve to be paid a higher wage than, say, residents of Stockton or Fresno due to the far higher cost of living they face.

For more information regarding this or other labor and employment issues, please contact Scott J. Wenner, past chair of Schnader’s Labor and Employment Practices Group. 

The materials posted on Schnader.com and SchnaderWorks.com are prepared for informational purposes only and should not be considered as providing legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship. Please see our disclaimer page for a full explanation.

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