Barring an unexpected reversal of fortune, California is on track to become the first state to officially raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. News first emerged on March 26 of an agreement with Governor Jerry Brown and leading Democratic legislators to raise the wage from its current $10 hourly mark to $10.50 beginning January 1, 2017, followed by continuous upticks that will result in the wage leveling off at $15 an hour by 2022. (Businesses employing fewer than 26 workers would get an extra year to institute the increases.)
After that the minimum can rise – but not fall – according to inflation. The agreement includes a provision giving workers three days of paid sick leave annually; it also permits California governors to freeze the wage in times of extreme economic downturn.
The movement toward a $15 wage has not followed a straight line,
If proof is needed that good things happen to people who don’t just wait but act, look no further than Governor Jerry Brown’s agreement, this past week, to allow in-home caregivers to receive overtime pay. Last year his administration had claimed that such overtime, which the federal government had mandated for in-home caregivers, would pose a prohibitive financial burden for California. Then, in January, the governor unveiled a 2014-15 budget that explicitly capped caregivers’ hours at 40 per week for the program, which is administered by the state’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS).
Not only would low-income seniors and Californians with disabilities who require in-home care have to hire additional workers to meet their needs, but the cap also struck deep at the livelihood of many caregivers by taking away from them a substantial number of work hours. A January Capital & Main investigative story, written by Gary Cohn,