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California raises minimum wage to $10 an hour

By George Chidi
Sunday, September 15, 2013 17:12 EDT
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Fast food worker at New York City wage protest (Flickr user peoplesworld)
 
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Millions of California workers can expect a little extra in their paychecks next year, after the state legislature raised the minimum wage Friday to $10 an hour, an increase to be phased in over three years.

The minimum wage will increase in two separate increments of $1, first in July 2014 and again in January 2016.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the wage increase will affect more than 2.3 million California workers.

“It means that single moms will have a little extra to support their families,” wrote Steve Smith, communications director of the California Labor Federation in a post after the vote Friday. “It means seniors who’ve been forced to re-enter the workforce will have a little more to help pay for prescription drugs. And it means that all low-wage workers have received validation that their work is worthy of dignity and respect.”

The bill, AB 10, passed largely on partisan lines through the state senate 26 yes votes to 11 no votes on Thursday, then passed the Assembly a few hours later 51-25.

Gov. Jerry Brown described the increase as overdue, while Republican lawmakers and industry groups like the California Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill. The chamber called the bill a “job killer” that will drive up business costs “worse than any predicted rate of inflation increase.”

The Sacremento Bee estimates that two-thirds of the beneficiaries of the increase in California would be Latino workers, more than half are 21-years-old or older, and only about a third have attended college.

The increase comes amid national protests by fast-food workers organized by labor groups, pushing for living wage increases and collective bargaining rights for people in the restaurant industry.

 
 
 
 
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