California legislators and labor unions reached an agreement on Saturday to start raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, a state senator said, a move that would make for the highest statewide minimum in the nation.
Sen. Mark Leno (D., San Francisco) said the proposal would go before the Legislature as part of his minimum-wage bill that stalled last year.
According to the LA Times, Governor Jerry Brown has reached an agreement with the state’s labor unions to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour through legislation passed by both the California Assembly and Senate, avoiding a ballot initiative that may have instituted a $15 an hour minimum wage sooner.
The Wallstreet Journal reported that at $10 an hour, California already has one of the highest minimum wages in the nation along with Massachusetts. Only Washington, D.C., at $10.50 an hour is higher. The hike to $15 would make it the highest statewide wage in the nation by far, though raises are in the works in other states.
The wage would rise to $10.50 in 2017, with subsequent increases to take it to $15 by 2022. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees would have an extra year to comply.
The deal means the issue won’t have to go to the ballot, Mr. Leno said. One union-backed initiative has already qualified for the ballot, and a second, competing measure is also trying to qualify.
Union leaders, however, said they wouldn’t immediately dispense with planned ballot measures.
Sean Wherley, a spokesman for SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, confirmed that his group was involved in the negotiations. But he said the group would continue pushing ahead with its initiative on the ballot.
“Ours is on the ballot. We want to be certain of what all this is,” Mr. Wherley said.
A spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, Evan Westrup, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.