Proposed Ballot Initiative Could Raise the California Minimum Wage to $18 an Hour by 2025
California has been advancing its way up to a $15.00 minimum wage for a number of years. In a few weeks, larger California employers with 26 or more employees will be subject to the $15.00 minimum wage. Beginning January 1, 2023, all California employers will be required to pay employees $15.00 per hour.
Despite the fact that the movement’s “Fight for 15” has been achieved, minimum wage advocates are already pushing for a higher rate. Minimum wage advocates have already made progress busting the minimum wage past $15 per hour at the local level. Emeryville, California already has the highest minimum wage in the country, currently at $17.13 per hour. Last month, West Hollywood’s City Council voted for a citywide minimum wage of $17.64 per hour.
Now, these same advocates are pushing for state-level reform. Earlier this month, a ballot initiative was filed with the California Attorney General’s office, that, if passed, would raise the state minimum wage to $18.00. Under the proposed “Living Wage Act of 2022,” California’s minimum wage would continue to rise to $18.00 per hour by 2025, more than double the federal rate. This would mark a twenty percent increase in just three years.
Los Angeles investor Joe Sanberg, a businessman who founded Blue Apron and is the Act’s primary proponent, states that due to the rising costs of living and implications of COVID-19, a higher minimum wage is necessary. If passed, the proposed initiative would implement a gradual increase of California’s minimum wage as follows:
|Year||Employers with 25 or Less Employees||Employers with 26 or More Employees|
Under the terms of the initiative, after reaching $18.00 an hour, the minimum wage will be adjusted yearly to keep pace with the cost of living.
To qualify to be on the ballot in November of 2022, supporters must collect at least one million signatures of registered voters and complete the verification process by June 30, 2022. With costs of everyday living rising much more quickly today than they have at any time in the last decade, and inflation expected to continue to grow, obtaining these signatures may not be terribly difficult.
California employers should be mindful of the potential minimum wage increases beyond $15 per hour, both locally and statewide and should do what they can to prepare for the possibility that the minimum wage for their employees may jump materially beyond $15 an hour based on local ordinances, and/or as part of this potential statewide ballot initiative.
CDF Labor Law LLP will keep you posted as to further developments on this issue.