Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will raise California's minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2016.
The wage hike will go into effect in two phases: The current minimum of $8 an hour will be lifted to $9 on July 1, 2014, and then to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.
Brown put his signature to the legislation Wednesday in front of workers at the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown Los Angeles. He called it his "moral responsibility" to give Californians a chance to earn a living wage.
"Our society over the last 30 years ... has experienced a growing gap between those who do work at the bottom and those who occupy the commanding heights of the economy," he said.
Brown described the wage hike as a way to tighten the connection between Californians at a time of divisive partisan politics in Washington.
“This is about the social fabric and harmony of Los Angeles and California,” he said. “And the minimum wage will set the floor as the ceiling keeps getting further and further apart.”
But the bill, known as AB 10, has faced vocal opposition from many companies. A coalition of employers, including the California Restaurant Assn. and the California Chamber of Commerce, said small businesses simply cannot afford to pay more and will resort to raising prices, cutting worker hours or even laying off some employees.
Brown argued that businesses cannot prosper at the expense of their workers. And for consumers, paying a little more for goods and services was worth the trade-off of giving workers a wage they can actually live on, he said.
“When you chew on a hamburger or get your car washed, you may pay a few more pennies,” he said. “How many hamburgers does it take to raise the minimum wage next year by a buck? Not too many.”
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