Today, California made history. It became the first state in the country to raise its state minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Senate Bill 3, signed by the governor today, will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022, providing six million Californians with a much-needed raise.
Increasing the minimum wage is critical in the fight for gender justice. Six out of ten minimum wage earners in California are women, and women of color are disproportionately represented among them. Nationwide, 23 percent of minimum wage workers are women of color, compared to 16 percent of workers overall. More than a third of minimum wage workers in California also have children to support.
That is why Senate Bill 3 was a lead bill in the 2016 Stronger California campaign. This campaign, chaired by Equal Rights Advocates and co-led by the state’s top advocacy coalitions, is a historic bid to ensure the economic security of California’s women and communities. (The Stronger California campaign celebrated another fair pay win last year with passage of the California Fair Pay Act, the strongest equal pay law in the country).
Women like Jodi Simpson, a hotel house cleaner and member of Sacramento Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, said a $15 minimum wage would help tremendously.
“Right now workers like me have to worry check to check. We work 2 and 3 jobs, stressing out about being able to afford the basics,” she said. “Today is an exciting day for all of us and a good step in the right direction, but we have lots of hard work ahead of us.”
While this is an important victory, there is still more work to be done to ensure the economic security of California’s women and communities in 2016. Other priorities of the Stronger California Agenda include policies and budget demands to address poverty, expand access to child care, promote fair pay and job opportunities, and ensure family-friendly workplaces.