Business & Economy

LA County Supervisors vote down proposed exemptions to $15 minimum wage

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich proposed exempting small non-profits and employers of seasonal workers from paying the rising minimum wage.
Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich proposed exempting small non-profits and employers of seasonal workers from paying the rising minimum wage.
Andres Aguila/KPCC

Los Angeles county leaders are poised to finalize a minimum wage hike for the unincorporated areas, raising the wage to $10.50 starting in July. In Tuesday's meeting, the five-member county Board of Supervisors debated, but ultimately struck down, a proposal that would have exempted some employers from paying the higher wage.

Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe proposed the exemptions. Knabe wanted to exempt "transitional employment programs" from paying the rising wage to their participants, who are often workers transitioning out of jail. Antonovich proposed an exemption for non-profits with fewer than 25 employees and for companies that hire workers on a seasonal basis. 

"These are job opportunities that many of our young people have," Antonovich told his colleagues urging them to support the amendments.  

His argument failed to convince any of the three left-leaning board members: Hilda Solis, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl. Support from just one of them would have tipped the balance, and meant approval of the exemptions.

"I don't know how it seems right to say because someone is beginning their career they should be paid less," Kuehl said.   

The board had given its first approval to a minimum wage hike nearly two months ago. The final language of the ordinance will be back before the Board of Supervisors for one last vote at a future meeting.