California minimum wage bill close to final passage

September 12, 2013|By Marc Lifsher
  • A fast-food worker demonstrates in front of a Wendy's and a Burger King in New York. California is close to passing a bill to increase its state minimum wage to $10.
A fast-food worker demonstrates in front of a Wendy's and a Burger… (Spencer Platt / Getty Imagines )

SACRAMENTO -- A bill that would boost California's minimum wage by 25% to $10 an hour won a key vote Thursday and is just one step away from the governor's desk.

What Gov. Jerry Brown will do with it is no mystery. The governor on Wednesday pledged to sign the measure, AB 10 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville). Brown's support was bolstered by endorsements from the Democratic majority leaders of both the state Senate and the state Assembly.

"The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs," Brown said.

Employers countered that AB 10 would raise the minimum wage by too much over too short of a time period.

"This is an unprecedented wage hike," said Jot Condie, president of the California Restaurant Assn. He predicted that many of the state's 87,000 eateries would deal with increased labor costs by cutting back employees' hours and by reducing hiring.

But, Louis Benitez, 51, a waiter at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles welcomed the possibility of a wage increase. "It would be a big help to get a little bit more money per hour," said Benitez, who earns tips as well as the minimum hourly wage.

The bill passed the state Senate on a vote of 26 to 11. It's expected to win final approval from the Assembly on Thursday, before lawmakers recess for the year on Friday.

If it becomes law, it would raise the current $8 minimum wage to $9 an hour next July 1 and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.

A minimum wage hike would be the first in California since Jan. 1, 2008.

The state currently has the eighth highest minimum wage in the country. Washington state has the highest at $9.19 per hour, followed by Oregon at $8.95 and Vermont at $8.60. Nevada, Connecticut, the District of Columbia and Illinois all have minimum wages of $8.25.


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