City Hall

City Council gets ball rolling on $15 minimum wage


The Los Angeles City Council just voted 14-1 to tell the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would make $15-an-hour the minimum wage in the city of Los Angeles. Labor and worker groups want LA to get in the minimum wage game, while the city's business community is generally against it. But the vote wasn't close, and except for small details the outcome seems certain when it comes back for a final vote. The mayor and City Council President Herb Wesson both voiced support for this version of the plan. Mayor Garcetti had previously proposed $13.25 an hour, and the City Council began by aiming for $15.25 by 2019. So pegging the minimum wage at $15 by 2020 for most workers (a year later for small businesses) can be called a bit of a compromise. There was a lot of wrangling and amendments tossed around at the session today.

From the LA Times story:

Tuesday's 14-1 vote was the latest demonstration of organized labor’s clout at City Hall. Through close to a year of often-emotional debate, labor leaders never gave ground on their central demand that the minimum wage rise to at least $15. Their City Council allies ensured that a less far-reaching wage increase proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to allay concerns in the business community was marginalized in the final months of discussion.

Maria Elena Durazo, an official at the national labor organization Unite Here and former head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said L.A.'s leadership on raising the minimum wage "makes it more real to pass it... on a broader basis, like the state and eventually federal" level.

Labor leaders say they remain dissatisfied with the gradual timeline elected leaders set for raising the base wage, but the harshest criticism of the law came from the ranks of L.A.’s small-business owners. Many claimed that the mandate will force them to lay off employees or leave the city altogether.

"The very people [council members'] rhetoric claims to help with this action, it's going to hurt," said Ruben Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. He said the only way for businesses to absorb their new labor costs would be lay off employees, reduce their work hours or move.

Valley councilman Mitch Englander was the no vote. Bernard Parks voted with the majority. Mayor Eric Garcetti's office sent out a statement that forgot to mention certain key council members, so that was recalled and this new statement was distributed to reporters.

"Today, help is on the way for the one million Angelenos who live in poverty," Garcetti said in a statement. "I started this campaign to raise the minimum wage to create broader economic prosperity in our city and because the minimum wage should not be a poverty wage in Los Angeles. I want to thank the City Council, especially Council President Wesson and Councilmembers Bonin, Cedillo, Krekorian, Martinez and Price, for joining me in building a stronger city and I look forward to signing this legislation."

Councilman Paul Krekorian returned the favor: "I want to thank Mayor Garcetti for starting the discussion last September and consistently challenging the City Council to do the right thing and raise the minimum wage. His leadership was absolutely critical to this entire process.”

Not included was the paid leave requirement slipped into the package in committee last week — but dropped after business leaders hit the roof and Garcetti asked for the issue to be delayed and studied. I talked about that on yesterday's LA Observed segment on KCRW.

By the way: Today is election day in the 4th council district runoff between Carolyn Ramsay and David Ryu. One way or another, the City Council horseshoe will either get its second woman or only Asian-American member. I predict 11 percent turnoff in the district.

Lightly edited post

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