Business & Economy

LA City Council committee heads to Watts for input on minimum wage

Fred Cox, right, and his friend Shondell Spiegel look at the Watts Towers in the Watts section of Los Angeles, Wednesday, March 31, 2010.
Fred Cox, right, and his friend Shondell Spiegel look at the Watts Towers in the Watts section of Los Angeles, Wednesday, March 31, 2010.
Jae C. Hong/AP

A listening tour of sorts begins Thursday night at 6 p.m. in Watts.  The Los Angeles City Council's economic development committee will get an earful on proposals to raise the minimum wage.

Technically, the committee began listening Tuesday afternoon at City Hall.  That's when the researchers on three separate studies presented their findings on the potential economic impacts of raising the wage.

Chiming in were about 40 residents, who spoke both for and against a future minimum wage hike. Rusty Hicks of the L.A. County Federation of Labor spoke for a minute, and so did Gary Toebben of the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce. Business owners, who run window washing companies, parking lots, restaurants, and catering services - also lined up to weigh in. 

The minimum wage push was launched back in September when Mayor Eric Garcetti announced his plan to raise the minimum wage to $13.25 an hour by 2017.  The idea gathered momentum quickly. Four members of the City Council even moved to go further –  $15.25 by 2019. But at least five council members knew the devil was in the details.  They called for a full study of its potential impact on businesses and non-profits. They wound up with the three studies presented on Tuesday:  one commissioned by the city, another from the L.A. Chamber, and another from the Labor Federation. 

“We always knew these reports would tell us the good, the bad and the ugly," said council member Curren Price, who chairs the Economic Development committee.  He called raising the minimum wage "one of the most critical civil rights issues of our time...because it disproportionately impacts people of color living in communities like the one I represent. " 

Price invited the public to keep showing up as "we take this show on the road" for three public hearings in different parts of Los Angeles: 

  1. TONIGHT - Thursday, March 26  at 6 p.m. - Watts Labor Community Action Committee -  10950 South Central Ave., Los Angeles 
  2. Tuesday, March 31  at 6 p.m. - Los Angeles City Hall - Van Nuys  6262 Van Nuys Blvd.
  3. Thursday, April 2 at 6 p.m. - Museum of Tolerance - 9786 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles