The District of Columbia became the latest place to pass a $15/hr minimum wage law, joining New York and California as states or territories to have adopted a $15/hr minimum wage law this year. Like New York and California’s law, D.C.’s will phase in a minimum wage of $15/hr over time, with $0.70 increases in the minimum wage each year until 2020, when the minimum wage will reach $15/hr. After that, the minimum wage will rise each year in accordance with the rate of inflation.
The $15/hr minimum wage in D.C. is more than double the current federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr, which is the minimum wage in Virginia, right outside D.C.’s borders. There is some fear that the minimum wage increase will cause jobs to leave D.C. for Virginia.
Despite these concerns, D.C’s decision represents a big win for organized labor and the $15/hr minimum wage movement. The $15/hr minimum wage, which has been advocated by both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, is expected to become a part of the Democrats’ platform for the November 2016 elections.
The fight to increase the minimum wage has been brought to Illinois in recent years. While Illinois’s minimum wage is $8.25/hr, bills in both the Illinois House and Senate are pending that would raise the minimum wage, with the Senate’s bill proposing a raise to $11/hr by 2019. Last year the City of Chicago passed a law raising the minimum wage to $10.50/hr on July 1, 2016, $11/hr by July 1, 2017, $12/hr by July 1, 2018, and $13/hr by July 1, 2019.
In addition to increases in the minimum wage, the labor movement has won several other victories in recent months. As we reported, the Department of Labor drastically increased the number of workers eligible for overtime last month. San Diego recently required employers to provide paid sick leave to employees, as did New York in April and Vermont in February. Last year, President Obama provided all federal employees with six weeks of maternity/paternity leave.
Stay tuned to The Workplace Report for updates on the passage of new laws affecting the minimum wage, paid sick leave, and other issues affecting employee compensation.