Business & Economy

Minimum wage: LA votes again to raise hourly rate to $15

Supporters — mostly — of a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles to $15 an hour by 2020 once again packed the city council chambers on Wednesday, June 3, 2015, for a big vote. The council voted 13-1 to adopt the ordinance, which means it will need one more vote next week for final approval.
Supporters — mostly — of a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles to $15 an hour by 2020 once again packed the city council chambers on Wednesday, June 3, 2015, for a big vote. The council voted 13-1 to adopt the ordinance, which means it will need one more vote next week for final approval.
Brian Watt/KPCC

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The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 on Wednesday for a plan that would raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

The council had earlier signaled its approval for the plan. This was the second vote, and a final procedural vote will be needed next week because Wednesday's was not unanimous. Councilman Mitchell Englander was the lone dissenter.

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Ahead of the vote, Council President Herb Wesson said the vote would affect millions of people, and not just Angelenos. "The winds in the country do blow from the west to east, and cities throughout the United States will watch what we do." Wesson told his colleagues.

Councilman Jose Huizar called this minimum wage vote the most important in his nine years on council.

Councilman Paul Krekorian said L.A. has more people living in poverty than the entire population of Boston.

"Instead of sitting by and watching the race to the bottom that is devastating the middle-class, we are taking action to lift up our residents and our city," Krekorian said in a written statement.

The vote was an insistence on pushing the wage-hike framework forward, even as a handful of related issues are still being studied and worked out. In the coming months, there will be more hearings and reports on rules regarding paid sick leave, a possible exemption for businesses with union employees that reach separate agreements with their workers, and exemptions for the “transitional employees” of non-profits that help former gang members and inmates, the homeless and at-risk youth. 

"They deserve a second chance, and that’s why I continue to advocate for an exemption for those trainees,” said Councilmember Gil Cedillo of transitional employees. 

Under the ordinance, the minimum wage would increase according to the following schedule beginning July 1, 2016:

Year Wage
2016 $10.50
2017 $12.00
2018 $13.25
2019 $14.25
2020 $15.00

After July 1, 2022, the minimum wage would be indexed according to the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers for the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Small businesses — those with 25 or fewer employees — would receive an additional year to phase in the minimum wage and would have to adhere to the following schedule:

Year Wage
2017 $10.50
2018 $12.00
2019 $13.25
2020 $14.25
2021 $15.00

Council members were also mindful that a state-wide minimum wage hike is now on the table in Sacramento. Senate Bill 3, which passed the California Senate on Monday, would raise the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour on January 1, 2016.  If it passes, that would put the state ahead of Los Angeles’ current proposal, which would raise the wage to $10.50 an hour in July of 2016. 

“I think that’s wonderful,” Councilman Mike Bonin told KPCC. “It’s a race to the top and I would love to see cities, counties, and states racing to see who can pay people a higher and better wage.” 
 
 
 

This story has been updated.