The L.A. Times is reporting that after a long battle from progressive activists, Governor Jerry Brown has reached an agreement with union representatives to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour. Assuming the deal passes in the state legislature, the law will take effect in 2017, and increase incrementally over multiple years.
While it is likely the Democratic governor will tout the change as a progressive victory, bringing him to an agreement has been a battle for the labor movement. Brown initially expressed concern that the increase in public employee pay would negatively affect the state budget. The most significant change in the conversation came when labor activists succeeded in getting a minimum wage increase petition on the ballot for November. With public opinion suggesting that Californians will vote in favor the petition, it has become politically expedient for state politicians to get ahead of the issue.
More than 100,000 Californians currently work at or below the state minimum wage, with thousands more still below the proposed minimum. In a state known for a high cost of living, the new minimum wage would lift thousands of working people out of poverty and off of government assistance programs.
The agreement is a testament to the strength of a growing grassroots labor movement in America. The national Fight for 15 started as a loose grouping of fast food workers insisting on better treatment, and has evolved into a massive social movement, catalyzing change across the nation. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle are all among cities that have agreed to a 15-dollar minimum wage. If accepted, the deal in California would be the largest victory to date in a growing push to keep the families of working Americans fed, clothed, and housed. A successful wage raise in such a large state could also serve as a jumping board towards the ultimate goal of the movement: a 15-dollar federal minimum wage.
Governor Brown is expected to make his official announcement on the agreement sometime tomorrow.
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