Employment Law History: California Increases Minimum Wage

California is making history again, but this time the history will be recorded in the legal treatises studied by employment law attorneys. When the governor signed Senate Bill 3, California became the first state in the nation to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. This increase will provide six million California residents with increased earnings.

Many cite this increase as a big step in the fight for gender justice as six out of every ten minimum wage workers in the state are female (with women of color being disproportionately represented in the group). 23% of minimum wage employees in the nation are women of color. In comparison, women of color only represent 16% of the American workforce as a whole. More than 1/3 of California’s minimum wage employees also have children under their care for which they need to provide financial support.

The numbers regarding the minimum wage worker demographic in California made Senate Bill 3 a lead bill in the 2016 Stronger California campaign that many have heard discussed. The campaign was chaired by Equal Rights Advocates with top advocacy coalitions acting as co-lead. It has become known as a historic bid to ensure that California’s women and communities as a whole will enjoy economic security. This 2016 Stronger California campaign also enjoyed a celebratory victory in 2015 when the California Fair Pay Act was passed, creating the strongest equal pay law in the United States.

Many California minimum wage workers see the increase as a tremendous help that will drastically alleviate financial problems associated with low income. Today’s minimum wage workers tend to worry check-to-check, work multiple jobs, and stress about having enough to cover the bare necessities. This makes Senate Bill 3 very popular amongst this group. They see it as a positive move in the right direction and hope that the positive movement will continue. There’s still more work to be done in order to ensure economic security. The Stronger California campaign also works toward policies and budget changes to address issues with: poverty, accessibility of child care, promotion of fair pay and job opportunities, and family friendly employment.

If you have questions about California’s Senate Bill 3 or the 2016 Stronger California campaign, please get in touch with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug and Bhowmik.