In a sign of growing national momentum for $15 minimum wages, two ballot measures to raise California’s minimum wage to that level are being pushed in California. With polling showing 68% of state voters back a $15 minimum wage, California looks likely to be one of the first states to adopt a $15 minimum wage next year.

In May, activists filed a ballot initiative that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2021. In November, activists filed a second initiative that would raise the state minimum wage to $15 by2020 (by 2021 for small businesses) and guarantee workers at least six paid sick days per year – an expansion of current California law. It is expected that the two coalitions will eventually join forces and that just one initiative will go before the voters in November 2016.

Protestors hold signs advocating raising the minimum wage at during a rally in Los Angeles on April 15, 2015.

California’s minimum wage is currently $9 per hour and is scheduled to increase to $10 on January 1, 2016, under the last increase approved by the legislature in 2013. Earlier this year, a bill to raise the minimum wage to $13 by 2017 passed the state Senate but stalled in the Assembly.

Momentum for $15 wages has been increasing across California, as cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Emeryville and Mountain View have approved local $15 wages. With the California $15 minimum wage ballot drives and Governor Andrew Cuomo pushing a statewide $15 minimum wage in New York, two of the four largest states in the nation are now on a trajectory to a $15 minimum wage.

For an overview of the $15 minimum wage movement, see The Growing Movement for $15 and NELP’s $15 Resource Page.


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