Councilmembers Introduce Motion to Raise Minimum Wage in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Continuing the city’s proud tradition of progressive leadership on wage and poverty issues, four Los Angeles City Councilmembers today co-introduced legislation that begins the process of raising the minimum wage for workers in Los Angeles. The wage motion, submitted by Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Gil Cedillo, Nury Martinez and Curren Price Jr. calls on the City Attorney to draft an ordinance that will raise the minimum wage to $13.25 by July 1, 2017, and calls for further steps to raise the minimum wage to $15.25 by 2019. The motion also proposes attaching the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), so the wage can keep pace with future inflation.

"There may be a lot of debate around this issue, but one fact is clear, our minimum wage today no longer covers even the most basic necessities for far too many families who time and time again are forced to choose between rent or groceries, the light bill or the gas bill, paying a parking ticket or buying new shoes for their kids," said Councilman Price, who represents the Ninth District. "I have agreed to sign onto this motion because I believe wholeheartedly that raising wages will have a direct positive impact on the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of local families and local business owners, who will benefit from the economic stimulus created by our increased wages."

“This is simultaneously the largest anti-poverty program in Los Angeles’ history and a progressive approach to supporting small businesses in our neighborhoods,” said Councilmember Bonin. “When people don’t earn enough to pay for basic needs, they don’t have any money to spend in local businesses. When people earn a fair wage, they spend money locally, stimulating economic growth and creating jobs in the process.”

 "When you represent a district where the median household income remains 31.1% below the City average, raising the minimum wage across all sectors in the City of Los Angeles is the right thing to do,” stated Councilmember Gil Cedillo. “This motion is the first step in improving the quality of life for all working families who continue to struggle to make ends meet in my district and across all of Los Angeles. I am hopeful we can achieve this with no job loss and adequate protections for small businesses"

 “I believe in the pact made by generations of Americans. That if you work hard and do your fair share, that you can make enough to raise your family with dignity. Unfortunately, in Los Angeles today, we are not upholding that deal for the hundreds of thousands that make poverty or - as they are also known - minimum wages," said Councilmember Martinez. "Today, we are taking the first step to change that momentum by raising wages so that full-time workers can actually care for their families. And examining the effects on local businesses of a potential wage increase so that a full-time worker can earn just $31,000 per year.  It may not solve poverty in Los Angeles but this is an important step to rebuilding our middle class.”

Last month, the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UC Berkeley released a policy brief entitled “The Mayor of Los Angeles’ Proposed City Minimum Wage Policy: A Prospective Impact Study” analyzing the proposal to increase the minimum wage to $13.25 an hour by 2017. According to the study, about 567,000 workers, or 37 percent of workers, would receive a pay raise under the proposal by 2017. Adults, workers of color, and working families would see significant benefits from a proposed policy. The study also indicated that the proposed minimum wage would have a negligible impact on business operating costs and consumer prices.

The Bonin-Cedillo-Martinez-Price wage motion is the latest in a series of progressive wage actions by the Los Angeles City Council and it is part of a nationwide movement of cities addressing income inequality by raising wages. Throughout the last year, cities including San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle have analyzed and debated minimum wage increases, leading to a November 2014 ballot measure in San Francisco that would raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by 2018; an ordinance adopted by the City of San Diego that raises the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2017; and an ordinance adopted by the City of Seattle, Washington that raises the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour between 2017 and 2021 depending on the size of the business. Earlier this month, the Council approved a proposal from Councilmembers Bonin, Martinez and Price Jr. to raise wages for workers at the city’s largest hotels.

The motion will now be considered by the Council’s Economic Development Committee, which will expect to see a draft ordinance enacting the $13.25 wage by 2017 within the next 120 days. As the ordinance is being drafted, the CLA and CAO will also work with an independent economist to help determine the path to raise the minimum wage to $15.25 by 2019, followed by annual increases consistent with inflation.


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