Governor Jerry Brown paves the way for a historic minimum wage increase in California.
“It’s a matter of economic justice, it makes sense, it will help our entire state do much better for its citizens,” Governor Brown said.
If approved by the legislature, the plan would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2022 for businesses with 25 or more employees.
“I am pleased that we have a deal in place that will raise the living standards for millions of Californians, while also at the same time spurring new demands for goods, services and helping business thrive,” said Senate President Kevin De Leon.
De Leon says the agreement would affect 5.6 million workers.
That’s 32 percent of the state’s workforce who would eventually be granted a livable wage and three paid sick days.
“I love my job, yes I do, but I love my family more, and I should not have to struggle daily to support them,” said Burger King worker Holly Dias.
At the podium, Dias wiped a tear and hugged the governor.
She spoke about how earning $5 extra an hour could change her life.
“I’m no longer gonna have to go to the store and decide formula or diapers, I’m not gonna have to decide do I pay my rent do I get transportation to work,” Dias said.
While many workers consider this a victory, others worry the significant wage increase will affect cities across the state differently.
“What we want to have is a minimum wage that’s fair, that is sensible and that takes into account that California isn’t a one size fits all state,” said Robert Abelon, senior vice president of Region Business.
Some small businesses are concerned about the added strain on their bottom line.
“I think it’s not paying enough attention to the effects it has on employers, school districts,” said Michael Gelber, owner of Railbridge Cellars and Company.
The proposal has flexibility. The governor would have the power to pause an annual increase in the case of a state budget deficit or economic downturn.
A ballot initiative to raise the wage to $15 an hour has already qualified for the November ballot.
That initiative is less gradual and would raise minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021.