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Minimum Wage Update: State & Local Highlights

Big news out of California this week: the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 on Wednesday to adopt a plan that will raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020, boosting pay for more than 40 percent of the workforce in the country’s second-largest city. (The ordinance will require another procedural vote next week before being sent to Mayor Eric Garcetti, who supports the measure.) The minimum wage statewide—currently $9 per hour and scheduled to reach $10 in 2016—could also go higher if the Assembly approves a bill passed by the state Senate this week that would raise California's minimum wage to $11 next year and to $13 in 2017. Read more »

AB 775: One More Reason to Love California

California is the best. I may be biased because I used to live there, but it really is a phenomenal state. Read more »

In San Francisco and Across the Country Workers Call for Schedules That Work

Yesterday, the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco voted on historic legislation to ensure workers in San Francisco’s chain restaurant and retail stores have predictable and stable schedules. The vote was 10-0 in favor of the legislation—completely unanimous and a veto-proof majority! Read more »

The Minimum Wage Goes Up in D.C. and California Today

Good news for minimum wage workers in Washington, D.C. and California—they just got a raise.

In D.C. the minimum wage increased to $9.50 per hour, up from $8.25. It is scheduled to hit $11.50 per hour in July 2016 and increase with inflation after that.

This increase is good news for women, who are about six in ten minimum wage workers in the District. And while $9.50 per hour isn’t nearly enough, a mom with two children who works full-time, year-round for the minimum wage now, finally, makes enough to be above the poverty line.

Unfortunately not all minimum wage workers in D.C. can celebrate today—the cash wage for tipped workers was not raised by in the legislation passed last January, meaning the cash wage for tipped workers in D.C.—about half of whom are women—remains a shockingly low $2.77 per hour. Read more »

New Legislation Aims to Stop Harassment Before It Starts

On Monday, California Congresswoman Jackie Speier introduced a bill that would require all members of the U.S House of Representatives to complete mandatory sexual harassment training. The training would include “practical examples aimed at prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation presented by expert trainers.”

This is a commonsense solution to an all-too-common problem. Employers have a legal obligation to prevent and remedy harassment, and it makes good business sense. Yet 25 percent of women and 10 percent of men still report harassment in the workplace today.

All employers—including the House—should adopt policies that explain what sexual harassment is, and make it unmistakably clear that it is prohibited in the workplace. A policy should also set out a procedure for filing and investigating complaints. Then, employers should train employees, supervisors, and managers not to harass and what to do if harassment occurs. Read more »

California Increases Minimum Wage to $10

Big news from a big state today: the California legislature passed a minimum wage increase! Governor Jerry Brown has confirmed that he will sign the bill, noting in a statement that the legislation “is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”

Currently, California’s minimum wage is $8.00 per hour – higher than the federal level of $7.25 per hour, but still far too low in a state with a notoriously high cost of living. Under the new law, California’s minimum wage will rise to $9.00 in July 2014 and to $10.00 in January 2016 – higher than any state’s minimum wage today. (Because the minimum wages in nearby Washington and Oregon are indexed to rise with inflation, those wages may be around $10 by 2016 as well.)

This is a major step forward for hundreds of thousands of workers in California – especially for women, who represent about 60 percent of the state’s minimum wage workforce. A minimum wage of $10.00 per hour will bring annual full-time pay up from $16,000 to $20,000, enough for a mom with two kids to pull her family out of poverty. According to the Governor’s Office, 25 percent of California children – that’s about 2.4 million – live in families where at least one parent earns the minimum wage. Read more »

When Will the Minimum Wage Go Up?

It's a fitting question to ask this week, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the landmark law that established the first federal minimum wage. And it's a particularly important question for women, who make up nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers nationwide.

The answer, though, depends a lot on where you live. A majority of states follow the federal minimum wage, which is not scheduled to rise even though it has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for almost four years — and for tipped workers in states that follow the federal standard, the minimum cash wage has been frozen at a shockingly low $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years. But in states like Washington, Colorado, Ohio, and Vermont, the minimum wage will automatically rise in January 2014 to keep up with inflation, and minimum wage increases recently enacted in New YorkConnecticut, and Rhode Island will also begin to take effect in 2014. 

To make it easy for you to find out what’s happening with the minimum wage in your state, the National Women's Law Center just released this handy interactive map

Find out how the low minimum wage affects women in your state

You can click on any state to see its minimum wage and tipped minimum wage, along with the share of minimum wage workers who are women, the next scheduled increase in the minimum wage, and any recent action on the minimum wage in the state legislature.  Read more »

Minimum Wage Increase Passed in Connecticut, but Not for Tipped Workers; California, Massachusetts Considering Stronger Measures

It’s the first week in June: temperatures are rising, the cicadas are swarming, and many state legislatures are wrapping up their 2013 sessions. This flurry of legislative activity has included several important steps forward on the minimum wage.

The biggest news comes from Connecticut, where last week the legislature passed – and the governor signed – a bill to increase the state minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.00 per hour by January 1, 2015. This compromise measure will give a much-needed raise to minimum wage workers in Connecticut, about six in ten of whom are women. An additional 75 cents per hour amounts to $1,500 a year for full-time work, bringing annual wages up from $16,500 to $18,000. That’s a meaningful boost, but still about $500 short of lifting a family of three above the poverty line, much less what is needed in a high-cost state like Connecticut.

And there is a catch: Connecticut’s new law actually reduces the percentage of the minimum wage that employers must pay to workers who receive tips. Today, tipped workers like restaurant servers are entitled to a minimum cash wage that is 69 percent of Connecticut’s full minimum wage ($5.69 per hour). In 2015, when the regular minimum wage is $9.00 instead of $8.25 per hour, tipped workers will be entitled to a minimum cash wage that is 63.2 percent of the full minimum wage ($5.69 per hour) – that is, they will get no raise at all. While most of Connecticut’s minimum wage workers who will get a raise are women, women are also a majority of the tipped workers who will suffer from this unfair exclusion. Read more »

States Taking the Lead on Higher Minimum Wages

It’s been a busy few weeks on the minimum wage front, as policymakers in a slew of states have moved to raise wages for low-paid workers. If you follow our blog, you already know that minimum wage increases are on the agenda in Maryland and New York – and you know that this is especially good news for women, who make up the majority of minimum wage workers in those states and across the country.

While a federal minimum wage increase – like the one proposed in the Fair Minimum Wage Act last year – is needed to boost pay for minimum wage and tipped workers throughout the U.S., it’s great to see momentum building at the state level. Here’s a quick run-down of recent developments:

  • California. A bill pending in the Assembly, AB-10, would increase the minimum wage from $8.00 per hour to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015, and $9.25 in 2016, then adjust the wage annually for inflation beginning in 2017.
  • Connecticut. A bill pending in the Senate, S.B. 387, would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $9.00 in July 2013 and $9.75 in July 2014, with annual indexing beginning in July 2015. NWLC’s new fact sheet shows that over 246,000 Connecticut workers would get a raise by 2014 under this proposal – and about six in ten of those workers would be women.

Election Day Brings Higher Wages for Workers in Albuquerque, San Jose, and Long Beach

Here in D.C. and across the country, election results consume the headlines, even as many of us breathe a sigh of relief that the long campaign season is over. But in addition to the big-ticket races on Election Day, there were a number of ballot initiatives in cities and states that are less publicized nationally but no less important to the people affected. These include three municipal ballot measures – in Albuquerque, San Jose, and Long Beach – to raise the minimum wage. All three passed with substantial majorities, meaning many low-wage workers in these cities will soon find it a bit easier to make ends meet. Specifically:

  • In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the minimum wage will rise from $7.50 to $8.50 per hour in January 2013, and will automatically adjust in future years to keep up with inflation. New Mexico Voices for Children estimates that 40,000 workers (one-seventh of Albuquerque’s workforce) will see higher paychecks as a result – generating about $18 million in consumer spending and helping to create new jobs as businesses expand to meet the increased demand.