California Increases Minimum Wage to $15.50 and Looks to Further Increase with SB 3
On January 1st, California's minimum wage jumped to $15.50, a 50-cent increase due to a 2016 wage law and inflation growth. Now, with the introduction of Senate Bill (SB) 3, a bill that would mandate a statewide $25 minimum wage for health care workers and support staffers, the state is looking to further increase the wages of its working class.
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 3.2 million workers in California, almost a fifth of the state's workforce, will see an increase in their wages, making up over a third of all workers nationally who will be affected by hikes in the minimum wage this year. The new bill, introduced by Senate María Elena Durazo, would require health facilities, home health agencies, and other support staff to receive an increase, with the goal of stabilizing the “living wage” as Californians deal with the extremely high cost of living and inflation.
Union-aligned Democrats were behind the bill, which is backed by the influential Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, which represents roughly 100,000 workers statewide. However, similar proposals have previously faced strong opposition from the health industry; last year, the union spent about $11 million to promote local $25 minimum wage measures in 10 Southern California cities while hospitals and health care facilities spent $12 million against them.
At the beginning of this month, the California Hospital Association initiated a plea to legislators, requesting an additional $1.5 billion be allocated in the state budget for Medi-Cal, California's medical insurance provider for those with low incomes and disabilities.
If the bill passes and Governor Gavin Newsom signs it, one labor leader estimated that 1.5 million California workers could get a wage hike come January 2024. Senator Steve Padilla (D-San Diego) said, “The current wage standard dooms workers to around the clock labor just to make ends meet. California workers and their families should be able to afford housing in the communities that they work. The cost of housing and goods and insufficient wages have incapacitated communities and created a class of individuals that cannot break the cycle of poverty. So much of our focus has been on the supply side of the problem – housing. Now we need to turn our attention to the real need for change in how workers are paid.”
The bill is an effort to tackle the crippling poverty in California, and to ensure that workers can afford basic needs.
0. “$25-Per-Hour Statewide Health Care Worker Minimum Wage Bill To Be Introduced Wednesday” California Globe, 15 Feb. 2023, https://californiaglobe.com/articles/25-per-hour-statewide-health-care-worker-minimum-wage-bill-to-be-introduced-wednesday/
1. “California Dems propose $25 minimum wage for all health workers, including housekeepers and security guards” Fox News, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/california-dems-propose-25-minimum-wage-all-health-workers-including-housekeepers-security-guards
2. “California Democrats propose $25 minimum wage for health workers” CBS News, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/health-care-minimum-wage-25-per-hour-california-democrats/
3. “Senator Padilla Introduces Legislation to Develop Living Wage Formula Tied to Housing Costs and Basic Expenses” The People’s Vanguard of Davis, 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.davisvanguard.org/2023/02/senator-padilla-introduces-legislation-to-develop-living-wage-formula-tied-to-housing-costs-and-basic-expenses/