A Bright Spot for Workers in Tuesday’s Dismal Election Results

Despite the lingering outrage and disapproval many of us have regarding the Republican victory at the polls last Tuesday, there were some major wins for workers across California and the country which should be embraced and not overlooked.Gear-and-Gavel_black

Raising Minimum Wages:

Starting local, both Oakland and San Francisco voted to raise their local minimum wages. Oakland’s minimum wage will go up to $12.25 next year and San Francisco is now on track to gradually increase its minimum wage to $15 by 2015.

Voters also elected to raise the state minimum wage in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. This brings the total number of states raising their minimum wage to 17 in the past year.

Illinois and several counties in Wisconsin set the wheels in motion by approving non-binding referendums calling for minimum wage boosts.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, an estimated 680,000 low-wage workers will have their pay raised due to the election results.

Paid Sick Leave

Oakland joined the two cities in New Jersey along with Massachusetts in approving measures to provide paid time off for workers who are sick or need to care for family members. This means that Oakland employees in companies with more than 10 workers can take up to nine sick days a year (triple the state requirement!), and up to five paid sick days in smaller companies.

These results indicate that workers’ rights advocates should continue to focus more on the local and state level for pro-worker legislation. This is especially true given that Congress is wrapping up what many deem its most unproductive session ever (for a comedic reality check on the growing importance of state and local government, check out the November 2 episode of John Oliver’s weekly HBO news roundup called Last Week Tonight). Given that Republicans will control both houses in the 114th Congress, the situation is destined to continue or worsen. So it seems we can count on the continued and increasing importance of workers’ rights advocacy on the local and state level, and hope that the electorate will continue to vote smart in this area.

Meanwhile, make sure to stay informed regarding how new legislation changes your rights at work, and contact our team at Hunter Pyle Law if you believe your employer is not complying with new laws.