news-on-minimum-wage-increases-in-california.jpg

Lydia Flores’ story is similar to that of many cashiers and other minimum wage employees living in Los Angeles. The working mother pinches her pennies from each paycheck in order to make her earnings last. Making just $12.88 per hour as a full-time employee, Flores supports herself and her two sons on $2,000 a month (or less). This number also reflects a social security check her youngest son receives for a disability.

Hard-working California employees like Flores that still find it difficult to meet basic needs for themselves and their families have fueled movements like Fight for $15 in hopes of raising California’s minimum wage. And Los Angeles, as well as other cities in California, has answered the call for help regarding wage and hour laws, leading the way for other states to do the same.

news-on-minimum-wage-increases-in-california.jpg

Lydia Flores’ story is similar to that of many cashiers and other minimum wage employees living in Los Angeles. The working mother pinches her pennies from each paycheck in order to make her earnings last. Making just $12.88 per hour as a full-time employee, Flores supports herself and her two sons on $2,000 a month (or less). This number also reflects a social security check her youngest son receives for a disability.

Hard-working California employees like Flores that still find it difficult to meet basic needs for themselves and their families have fueled movements like Fight for $15 in hopes of raising California’s minimum wage. And Los Angeles, as well as other cities in California, has answered the call for help regarding wage and hour laws, leading the way for other states to do the same.

California Wage Laws: Localities Begin Raising Minimum Wage, Influence Other States

The UC Berkeley Labor Center reports that 15 of the 30 cities and counties across the nation that voted to increase minimum wages are located in California. Staff attorney for the National Employment Law Project in Washington, D.C., Laura Huizar, says that “California is a state that has made it very clear to cities and counties that they have the authority to pass a higher minimum wage.” According to Huizar, some states like Texas and Georgia prohibit local governments from passing their own minimum wage laws.

Some experts also say that both economics and politics explain the California wage increases in these California localities. Andrew Busch of the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College says that voters and policymakers are simply, “more receptive to an increased minimum wage because they see that it just costs a lot more to live in those places.”

But movements like Fight for $15 have always had a broad focus that goes beyond raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles and other California cities. In fact, their local demonstrations have influenced employers and policymakers in New York State, too.

Minimum Wage Increases in California Cities Could Inspire Statewide Wage Increase

Larger cities in the San Francisco and Los Angeles metro areas have passed ordinances to raise local minimum wages up to $15 an hour by 2020, while the rest of the state will see a minimum wage increase to $10 per hour in January 2016. Despite these planned increases, some supporters of the $15 per hour wage rate say it could influence California’s minimum wage statewide.

California State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), authored a bill to raise California’s minimum wage statewide to $13 with adjustments for inflation in the future. Leno claims that higher wages in cities will prompt an opportunity for state policymakers to create a fairer marketplace for competing businesses. Leno also says that if these local minimum wage increases don’t “kill jobs” it would help with a statewide measure in California.

Local Wage Ordinances Have California Employers Concerned

Robert Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable feels that California’s minimum wage increases should happen at the state Capitol, while taking into account regional economic differences. While supporters of California’s minimum wage increase want to help families of three or four people stay above the poverty level, Lapsley argued that the minimum wage wasn’t created for that purpose. “That’s the wrong debate,” he said. “It’s really about we have to be growing our jobs so that we have middle-class jobs.”

Lapsley continued by saying that the California business community wants manufacturing jobs to grow in order to transition California workers out of their minimum wage-paying jobs.

But Lapsley may not want to hold his breath quite yet, as proposals and proponents of California minimum wage increases across the state continue to gain momentum. In fact, two new minimum wage ballot proposals are on the horizon for 2016, and both seek to increase California’s statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour (one by 2020 and the other by 2021).

The proposals have yet to be approved for ballot.

Read the original story on KQED.org: California Cities Build Momentum on Minimum Wage Boosts

If you feel your employer is violating California wage laws, our labor and employment law attorneys can help you file a California wage and hour claim. Contact us today for your free consultation.