Along with the new year, the minimum wage rates in 14 states (Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) have increased. San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles have already decided to raise their minimum wage rates to $15 an hour. Although Democrats have tried raising the federal minimum wage to $12 and $15 an hour, it has remained at $7.25 since 2009. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the federal pay floor.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times on January 12, 2016, Santa Monica (CA) City Council approved an ordinance raising the minimum wage at most Santa Monica businesses to $15 an hour by 2020. In an effort to promote union organizing, the ordinance exempts union employees working under collective bargaining agreements. A similar union exemption was rejected by the City of Los Angeles when it previously approved its own minimum wage ordinance. The Santa Monica ordinance also allows employers to pay 85% of the minimum wage for 480 hours or six months (whichever comes first) to first-time workers, which generally affects high school students.