Los Angeles may become the largest city in the nation to adopt a $15 minimum wage.
The Los Angeles City Council voted 14 to 1 on Tuesday to have the City Attorney draft an ordinance that would raise the minimum wage for certain workers to $10.50 an hour effective July 2016, and then gradually to $15 an hour by 2020. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees will have until 2021 to comply with the wage increase. Mayor Eric Garcetti has indicated that he would sign the ordinance into law after a final vote, which could happen as early as next month.
Los Angeles is now the fourth city to enact a $15 minimum wage, following San Fransisco, Seattle, and Emeryville, California. A similar bill was proposed in Washington, DC, last October, and has also been proposed in New York City.
“Make no mistake,” said Los Angeles Councilman Paul Krekorian, who was one of the leaders in the push for the raise in the city’s wages.“Today the city of Los Angeles, the second biggest city in the nation, is leading the nation.” The increase in wages is estimated to create pay increases for up to 800,000 Los Angeles residencies.
Elena Durazo of Unite Here, the hotel and restaurant workers’ union, said “without a doubt, it was a very big victory.” Durazo linked the LA City Council’s actions to a broader national effort to alleviate poverty, as she believes that raising the wage in L.A. will lead to similar increases across the country.
Across the nation, minimum wage workers have been igniting the Fight for $15, holding strikes against major fast food chains and demanding living wages, regular hours, and in some cases the right to unionize. A group of young activist leaders and fast food workers from Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond, and North Carolina accepted a Ms. Wonder Award last fall for their actions to improve wages and working conditions at fast food restaurants.
Democrats in Congress have recently set their sights on a higher minimum wage target, raising their ask from $10.10 to $12 an hour. Both amounts are far above the federal minimum wage of $7.25, which has not budged in six years.
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 10/24/14; 11/19/14; Los Angeles Times 5/19/15; Think Progress 5/20/15