Petition in California for $18 Minimum Wage Gaining Steam: What to Know

by Liz Holland

Long has the prospect of a $15 minimum wage been discussed at the Federal level. Now, Californians may get the chance to vote for an even higher hourly minimum wage. 

The Living Wage Act of 2022 is a measure that proposes the state of California raise its minimum wage pay to $18/hour. The petition began collecting signatures this month and is quickly gaining traction. If the campaign collects at least 700,000 signatures, it will be put on the November ballot for local elections. 

“The purchasing power of the minimum wage declines over time,” said Joe Sanberg, an entrepreneur and sponsor of the legislation. “That means that we have to keep fighting for an increased minimum wage to make sure that working people can afford life’s basic needs.”

California’s current minimum wage is $15/hour. If the act is signed into law, it would gradually raise the minimum wage, reaching $18 by 2025. It would follow a similar model to previous legislation, raising the wage by $1 each year. In this case, the wage would rise to $16 in 2023, $17 in 2024, and $18 in 2025. However, one caveat is that this guideline would only apply to businesses with more than 25 employees. For those with a smaller staff, the required minimum wage would be $17 by 2025. 

Businesses Everywhere Struggle to Keep Employees

“The reality in America is that most people who are working full time live on a knife’s edge of financial ruin,” said Sanberg. He also added that a higher minimum wage would help support people of color and essential workers.

If the measure moves forward, it would give an estimated 5.5 million Californians a yearly raise of more than $6,000. The increase would also apply to tipped workers, who frequently are subject to lower hourly pay. The measure would adjust in an effort to keep up with the price of living come 2025. Although the current minimum wage for the state is only $15, certain regions of the state have opted to require a higher minimum wage. 

One Advocate Says a $15 Minimum Wage is ‘Not Enough Anymore’

Businesses throughout the country are struggling to hold onto employees in what some are referring to as “The Great Resignation.” In an effort to hold onto adequate staff, several companies have voluntarily advertised higher wages. However, according to Sara Jayaraman, President of advocacy group One Fair Wage, it’s important to put policies in place that set a baseline standard for pay. 

“It’s essential that we raise wages right now, it’s a historic moment where workers are refusing to work for $15 an hour,” she said. “It’s not enough anymore.”

Jayaraman added that workers are experiencing the most intense inflation the nation has seen in 40 years. She says, for this reason, it’s as important as ever to consistently raise compensation rates to match. Putting a law in place protects workers from facing pay cuts if later down the line inflation calms down.