From City News Service
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti signed into law a measure that raises the minimum wage in Los Angeles to $15 per hour by 2020 for hundreds of thousands of workers.
With the mayor’s signature, the city, with 3.8 million residents, becomes the biggest in the country with a $15 minimum wage ordinance, though the first increase to $10.50 per hour is not set to take place until July 2016.
Garcetti — along with labor leaders, City Council members and other supporters of the measure — held a signing ceremony at Martin Luther King Jr. Park June 13, where he officially announced last Labor Day that he wanted to raise the minimum wage to $13.25 per hour.
“I’m ecstatic. I mean, this was a coalition of business, labor, community, religious leaders,” Garcetti told ABC7. “It took everybody coming together but we did it in less than a year and I think it’s going to inspire the country to follow suit.”
Garcetti said last week that with the City Council’s adoption of the ordinance, “the minimum wage will no longer be a poverty wage in Los Angeles.”
The council voted 12-1 June 10 to give final approval to the wage hike ordinance, with Councilman Mitchell Englander casting the dissenting vote.
Under the ordinance, the city minimum wage will increase to $10.50 per hour in July 2016 for businesses with 26 or more employees, with a one-year delay for smaller businesses. By 2016, the state minimum wage will have risen to $10 per hour.
The wage will then go up to $12 an hour by July 2017, $13.25 per hour by July 2018, $14.25 per hour by July 2019 and ultimately to $15 by July 2020.
Businesses with 25 or fewer employees will start raising their wages one year later and have until 2021 to reach the $15-an-hour mark.
Once the wage reaches $15 per hour for both small and large employers, the ordinance calls for the minimum wage in 2022 to continue increasing based on the cost of living.
City officials are still considering possible amendments to the wage law, such as a proposed exemption from the $15 minimum wage for workers covered under collective bargaining agreements.
Labor leaders who led the campaign to raise the minimum wage are pushing for inclusion of the exemption from the wage for their own union members.
They say the provision is a “standard” part of wage laws in many other cities, including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and San Diego, and contend the provision is aimed at respecting existing collective bargaining agreements, as well as giving employers and workers wiggle room to reach the best labor agreement for both sides.
However, business leaders who had opposed the wage increase say the same people who wanted the minimum wage hike in Los Angeles now want their own union members to be given a “sub-minimum” wage. They pointed to Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law, which does not have an exemption for unionized workers.
The council may also consider a motion by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell that calls for an exemption for employers with 50 or fewer workers “that provide their employees benefit packages that are equal to or exceed the citywide minimum wage.”
The City Council is also expected to consider including a requirement for employers to provide paid leave to workers, and a provision that would require employers to pass service charges on to the employee who performs the task.
Homeboy Industries, a group that runs transitional employment programs, also is urging the City Council to give it a reprieve from the city wage over the 18-month duration of its program.
Members of the council additionally are looking for more clarity on what constitutes an employee in Los Angeles.
The ordinance defines an employee as someone who works at least two hours within Los Angeles city limits, which means businesses located outside the city could potentially be paying the higher wages for hours their employees work within Los Angeles.