According to people familiar with the matter that agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity, California regulators and labor unions have secretly reached a tentative deal to gradually hike the minimum wage to $15 over the next five years.
The deal was leaked Saturday, but no official announcement was made so far. Sources said Gov. Jerry Brown plans to disclose the agreement Monday.
The deal is the result of year-long battles between California governor and labor unions statewide. Gov. Brown may see the measure as an opportunity to grab more votes as a plethora of polls have shown that most Californians would favor a minimum wage hike.
According to sources, the deal would raise the statewide minimum wage to $10.5 starting next year, and gradually raise it by 50 cents in 2018 and $1 each year from 2019 through 2022. Small companies that have up to 25 workers are given an extra year to comply with the measure.
The increases are tied to inflation, sources say, but the governor could call off or amend the deal if it is harming the economy. Brown’s office and state regulators have yet to reply to a request for comment.
But California governor has already signed off a minimum wage hike three years ago. Since then Brown has heroically resisted tremendous pressures from labor unions to raise the minimum wage even more. He eventually conceded when labor unions threatened that they would take the matter to voters.
One such initiative was granted the approval for the Nov. 8 ballot. Unions said that they would withdraw it as soon as a final deal was reached. A representative for the Service Employees International-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), one of largest labor unions in the western U.S., said that they needed a few weeks to analyze the details of the agreement before dropping the initiative.
People familiar with the issue also said that state regulators could vote on the wage deal next week by passing a bill that was blocked in 2015. If the bill passes, California could be put at the forefront of the initiatives to hike the minimum wage across the nation. New York is currently working on a similar deal, while Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton pledged that they would back the nationwide efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour as soon as they land in the Oval Office.
Yet, the deal will not benefit only the private sector. Government employees would benefit from three paid sick days if they need to provide care to in-home disabled people.
Image Source: Flickr