California's legislature passed a $15 minimum wage on Thursday—and the same day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators made a deal to raise New York’s minimum wage to $15 … eventually, probably.
Under the terms of the deal the minimum wage would rise from its current $9 per hour to $15 over three years in New York City starting on Dec. 31, 2016. City businesses with up to 10 employees would be given four years to implement the measure.
Long Island and Westchester County around New York City would be given six years to push through the increases while the rest of the state would see the minimum wage rise to $12.50 in five years, with indexed increases to $15 possible after review.
There is also a provision to suspend the increases from 2019 if economic conditions worsen.
These are huge steps forward in both New York and California, but in New York, activists will have to keep up the pressure to see that the increase does happen statewide. Getting to $15 in three years in New York City is a big deal; getting to $12.50 in five years in most of the rest of the state is low and slow.
New York’s budget deal also includes a paid family leave program, which family leave expert Ellen Bravo said:
… will significantly improve the lives of 7.5 million New Yorkers and their families. When fully phased in, New York's plan will turn small employee contributions into 12 weeks of family leave at two-thirds pay to all workers, and include job protection so that workers won’t be dissuaded from taking this essential time to care for their loved ones.
Between New York and California, millions of workers will be getting a raise, and New York’s paid family leave program means that there will now be four states showing Congress that paid family leave can work in the United States and should be a national policy.