California Reaches Groundbreaking $15 Minimum Wage Deal

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California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to unveil the specifics of a deal reached by policymakers and unions to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Brown has been hesitant to embrace the $15 minimum wage out of concern it could harm the state economy. SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU UHW), however, was able to get its version of the increase on the November ballot for a general vote. Lawmakers and unions reached a deal Saturday written to address economic concerns while avoiding a ballot battle, sources told the Los Angeles Times.

“This is an issue I’ve been working on for many years,” Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno told The Associated Press Saturday. “The governor and stakeholders have all been negotiating earnestly and in good faith for some time.”

Leno said the deal is not finalized, but when it is it will go directly before the legislature instead of a ballot vote. The proposal could put California on track to have the first statewide $15 minimum wage. The state currently has a $10.00 minimum wage. SEIU UHW has not yet determined whether to scrap its ballot initiative.

“Ours is on the ballot. We want to be certain of what all this is,” SEIU UHW spokesman Sean Wherley told The Associated Press. “If some agreement is signed into law, then our executive board would decide what to do. They would only make that decision after any agreement is signed into law.”

Brown has previously noted concerns that the increase could put a lot of financial stress on state businesses. The California Department of Finance released a report last year urging the state to not go beyond the $10 an hour increase. The Los Angeles Times reports the deal will likely include a number of provisions to help the economy adjust such as a longer phase in period for small businesses.

The increase will phase in gradually with the aim of reaching $15 an hour by 2022, according to documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times. Several cities across the state have enacted local proposal to phase in a $15 minimum wage over a few years.

The deal could be a huge victory for labor unions and activist fighting for the $15 minimum wage. The union-backed Fight for $15 movement, for instance, has been at the forefront of the policy push both nationally and in the states. It has held countless protests and many media campaigns over the last few years to push for the policy.

Brown did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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