California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law to increase the minimum wage for workers to $15 per hour by 2022.
Currently, the minimum wage in California for hourly workers is $10. Gradually, the state will increase wages by 50 cents in 2017 and then a $1 bump in 2018.
Hourly wages will then be given every January, until 2022 unless there is an economic recession that causes delays.
Small businesses with 25 or less workers have an extra year to comply with the new law.
Fullerton College students and staff weighed in on the new legislation.
“Hell no! No! That means all prices are going to go up, I think the minimum wage right now is good. I think if it’s increased to $15 then food, clothing, underwear it’s all going to go up and so you’re going to be paying the same price regardless based on the value of the dollar.” said student Krystal Nguyen.
Food prices have risen due to the California drought, and now many people fear they will rise even higher if minimum wage is increased. Even fast food restaurants that are known for being cost-effective may find their prices climbing.
“These fries won’t be $1, they’ll probably cost five-something!” Nguyen said as she raised her french fries.
Today, about 2.2 million Californians are living on minimum wage.
People fear that businesses and small-business owners will lay off more frequently to pay their employees the higher rate. Some also argue that the end result could be more people out of jobs, less jobs created in the state, and ultimately a larger deficit.
Others say living in California is expensive. Daily expenses quickly add up, and people need appropriate compensation to afford gas, food, clothing and other necessary items.
“I think it would be very good. Maybe not for business owners because they have to pay their employees more, but for someone like me who works two jobs just to make ends meet, it brings me hope,” Sodexo employee Juan Negrete said. “I can leave one of my jobs for someone else to have and just work one. Most people will probably do the same so the idea that there won’t be jobs can’t be all correct.”
The concept of the “burger flipper” making $15 was a common thread in the interviews, but most were unaware that the law was an incremental increase over several years – not now.
A table of past increases with the current rate is shown below to illustrate the changes.
“I feel indifferent, but it all depends on the job. Last year I was making $9 an hour and I got a raise due to the dollar increase. My other coworkers who were already making $10 didn’t get an increase,” student Leo Garcia said. “I thought it was unfair. That can happen to everyone who is already making $15.”
The unanswered question then is, will employers give their already seasoned employees, making $15 per hour currently, a raise?
“Everybody deserves to make a livable wage,” FC staff member Che Hernandez said. “How can you be opposed to that?”