Massachusetts home care workers win $15/hr starting wage

BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts home care workers have won the nation's first state-level $15-an-hour starting salary, after months of negotiations with state officials in an ongoing national campaign.

The pay hike will take effect in July 2018, bringing the starting hourly pay up from $13.38, the Service Employees International Union Local 1199, which represents about 35,000 home care workers in the state, said on Friday.

The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 since 2009.

The union said the deal, inked late Thursday, had led it to cancel a planned protest in front of the state house.

The union last year linked up with the national Fight for $15 movement, which has been organizing rallies across the country calling for higher wages for America's lowest paid workers.

A spokesman for Governor Charlie Baker's office said the administration was "pleased" that personal care attendants will be "appropriately compensated for the highly specialized care they provide."

Earlier this month, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a law hiking the city's minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15 by 2020, an increase that will affect hundreds of thousands of workers.

(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Richard Chang)