Labor welcomes Gov. Newsom to second term
By Sheri Williams
California Governor Gavin Newsom was sworn into office for a second term in early January, with labor leaders by his side.
Newsom took a second oath of office on Jan. 6 at the state Capitol. Before the ceremony, the governor walked in the “People’s March” across the Tower Bridge. At his side were labor leader Lorena Gonzalez and labor icon Dolores Huerta among others.
Many members of the construction trades also marched with the governor.
Newsom used the occasion to talk about the diversity of California, and his commitment to creating a stronger state for future generations.
“Whether your family came here for work, or for safety, California offered freedom to access it, not contingent on you looking a certain way, talking a certain way, thinking a certain way,” Newsom told the crowd. “And that’s what makes California special—it’s in our genes. We’re a state of dreamers and doers. Bound by our live-and-let-live embrace of personal freedom.”
The governor begins his second term as many new laws to help working Californians take effect. Chief among them is a raise in the minimum wage.
Beginning Jan. 1, the state minimum wage increased to $15.50. The minimum wage has increased steadily since a 2016 law that mandated inflation-related adjustments.
The wage increase will benefit nearly 20% of California workers, about 3.2 million people.The increase gives California the third-highest minimum wage after Washington, D.C. and Washington state. But some California cities, including Los Angeles, have higher base wages. Other new laws benefiting workers include a provision that will help increase pay equity. Now, any company with 15 or more employees has to disclose salary ranges and include them on job postings. Governor Newsom signed the law, which was championed by first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
“California has the strongest equal pay laws in the nation, but we’re not letting up on our work to ensure all women in our state are paid their due and treated equally in all spheres of life,” said Newsom. “These measures bring new transparency to tackle pay gaps, end discriminatory pricing of products based on gender and expand supports for survivors of abuse and assault. I thank the Legislative Women’s Caucus for their leadership and partnership in building a more equitable California for all.”
The new year will also bring more protection for working families with the implementation of Senate Bill 951, written by Los Angeles labor icon, Sen. Maria Elena Durazo. The bill makes it easier for low-wage workers to take time off after the birth of a child or to care for a sick family member.
For those making less than $60,000 annually, 90% of wages will be covered for family leave. For those making more than $60,000 annually, 70% of wages will be covered for up to eight weeks.