'Fight for $15' movement wins major battle in California with minimum wage agreement

© Brendan McDermid
Democratic leaders in California, the eighth-largest economy in the world, reached an agreement with labor unions this weekend to raise the state’s minimum wage from $10 to $15, according to Los Angeles Times sources on the condition of anonymity, but the top wage won’t take effect until 2022.

Labor negotiators, part of the Fight for $15 movement, reportedly had a battle on their hands with the neo-liberal forces within the Democratic party, even though unions and Democrats have traditionally been on the same side. 

LAT also reported that business groups were relegated to the sidelines during the negotiations, a unusual power dynamic in US politics.

The minimum wage will gradually rise to $10.50 per hour by 2017 to $11 in 2018 and finally to $15 after 2022.

“We want to look at the details first,” said Steve Trossman from Service Employees International-United Healthcare Works West.

The unions planned to bring ballot initiatives in November to address the issue after Democrats blocked them legislatively, but they may be withdrawn because of this new deal.

Both Democratic presidential hopefuls, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, endorsed a nationwide campaign to raise the minimum wage and could be forced to take a firmer approach in light of the latest developments. 

READ MORE: Bernie Sanders' supporters 'frustrated with emerging low-wage police state’

The wage debate is a political football between corporate interests, led by the US Chamber of Commerce, and workers, led by the unions and other grassroots organizations, with Democrats running for office often testing the wind - and the fundraising options - before taking a side.