OAKLAND, Calif. — California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. has recently signed a bill raising the state’s minimum wage from $8 per hour to $10 per hour over the next three years, the governor’s office reports.
Assembly Bill 10 (AB 10), authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), will raise California’s minimum wage in two one-dollar increments, from $8 per hour to $9 per hour, effective July 1, 2014, and then to $10 per hour effective January 1, 2016.
“I’m proud to author this measure on behalf of hardworking families in California,” says Alejo.
“It’s a special day to stand with workers who are laboring for all of us and laboring at a low wage. Turning that wage into a $10 an hour wage is a wonderful thing,” says Brown, prior to signing the bill. “It’s my goal and it’s my moral responsibility to do what I can to make our society more harmonious, to make our social fabric tighter and closer, and to work toward a solidarity that every day appears to become more distant.”
Reaction to the bill by local organizations is mixed.
The California Chamber of Commerce included the bill in its “2013 ‘Job Killer’” list, recently saying that “a minimum wage increase affects more than just the hourly rates of employees, [it] also drives up exempt employee salaries, workers’ compensation costs, uniform/tool reimbursements, overtime and consumer prices.”
The organization also states that even at a 3.5% rate of inflation, minimum wage would only reach $8.87 by 2016, among other reasons it opposed the bill.
The California Restaurant Association (CRA) also opposes the bill.
“The state mandating a 25% pay increase over an 18-month period is a back breaker for many in our industry,” says Jot Condie, CRA president and CEO. “Contrast that to the state negotiating with its largest union a 4.5% increase over three years that the Governor called ‘a fair proposal.’ The private sector is no different. Given the economics in our industry, where restaurants operate at very thin profit margins, a 25% increase in labor costs will result in fewer job opportunities for Californians looking to get back on their feet.”
Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, praises the bill, calling the minimum wage increase a “moral imperative.”
“For far too long, low-wage workers have toiled for far too little,” says Pulaski. “Whether you're a single mom supporting a family or a senior re-entering the workforce because of shriveling retirement, an increase in the minimum wage would provide a much-needed measure of economic security. An increase to $10 per hour would generate $1 billion in economic growth as workers spend their wages at local businesses.”
“California’s minimum wage has languished at $8 hour, even as neighboring states have increased the minimum wage,” Pulaski adds. “We’re way behind. Our state’s low-wage workers can’t afford to wait any longer for a raise.”