California Gov. Jerry Brown ends ‘Fight for 15’ with a W

Nearly half of Sacramento County workers could see wages increase as part of deal

The fight’s over. Call it the win-for-15.

In a historic agreement, California legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown announced a plan on Monday to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2022, rendering a fall ballot initiative that would have done the same thing a year earlier likely to be rescinded.

Predictably, the announcement was immediately met with celebration by those who say inching closer to a livable wage would uplift people out of poverty, and condemnation by those who claim it will hurt small businesses.

The plan would not affect businesses with 25 or fewer employees for a year and calls for the first raise, 50 cents, to go into effect in January. In a statement, Brown said the plan “raises the minimum wage in a careful and responsible way and provides some flexibility if economic and budgetary conditions change.”

A release from the office of Sen. Jeff Stone, a Riverside County Republican, labeled it “a backroom deal” among Brown and legislative Democrats.

In its assessment of how the ballot initiative version would have affected the Northern California “megaregion” if passed by voters, the University of the Pacific’s Center for Business and Policy Research showed that nearly 44 percent of Sacramento County workers would experience wage increases. The counties least benefited were San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara, where incomes already trend high. The biggest benefit was to Merced County, where 60 percent of workers would see increased wages.

The study also found that while minimum-wage jobs vary by industry, occupation and demographics, young workers would be impacted the most. Workers under the age of 25 hold 77 percent of the jobs affected by a minimum-wage increase, about three times the share of workers over 35. It added that nearly 57 percent of Latino workers would be affected, compared to 26 percent of white workers.

In a statement, Common Sense Kids Action heralded the deal and said it would greatly benefit women, who make up 60 percent of the minimum-wage workforce and are often “the sole or co-breadwinner for their families.”