The Largest State in the Nation Increases Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

Alyssa Petrella
USW Communications

The majority has spoken in many areas in the U.S. to finally increase the minimum wage to a livable wage. Most recently, California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has struck a deal with legislative leaders to make the Golden State the first in the nation to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

For the next six years, the minimum wage in California will gradually increase from $10 an hour to $15. Millions of low-wage working people will benefit.

Now, 28 states and Washington, D.C., have minimum wages above the federal minimum of $7.25.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, is working to pass a bill to increase the minimum wage from $9 to $15 an hour by 2021. It will be harder for him than Gov. Brown, though, because Brown has a Democratic-controlled legislature, and in New York, Republicans, for the moment, hold a majority in the state senate. That could change after a special election later this month.

In January, 14 states raised their minimum wage providing increases for over 4 million workers. It amounts to more than $3.5 billion in higher annual wages.

Additionally, several cities, including Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles are in the process of increasing their minimum wage to $15 an hour. New York is raising the wage to $15 for fast food workers. And New York state workers and municipal workers in Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester will see their wages rise to $15 over time. Massachusetts will increase the wages of home health care workers statewide to $15 an hour by 2018 under an agreement with the Service Employees International Union.

Companies like Facebook, Aetna, Amalgamated Bank, UPMC of Pittsburgh and Nationwide Insurance have gotten the message, raising their own corporate minimum wage to $15 or more, putting pressure on states and other companies like McDonald’s to do the same.

Meanwhile, the “Fight for 15” campaign continues to press hard-headed politicians to make $15 an hour the standard throughout the United States and to index it to inflation so that workers who labor full-time don’t ever fall into poverty.

Politicians, who make hundreds of thousands of dollars and continue to increase their own wages, owe their constituents who voted them into office, a livable wage. It’s that simple.  


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