The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to have City Attorney Mike Feuer draft an ordinance raising the city’s minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017, a hike proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Saying that income inequality is one of the most pressing social, economic and civil rights issues facing the city, Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Gilbert Cedillo, Nury Martinez and Curren Price introduced a motion that called on Feuer to draft an ordinance that would raise the minimum wage in stages to $13.25 an hour by July 1, 2017 and then index it annually to the rate of inflation. The motion also calls for the city to study raising the wage another $2 by 2019.
Garcetti proposed the $13.25 minimum wage on Labor Day, drawing criticism from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and other local business groups.
Tuesday’s motion calls on Feuer to submit the ordinance to the Council’s economic development committee within four months. It also calls for the city to commission an independent study on how to raise the minimum wage to $15.25 an hour by 2019, followed by annual increases pegged to the rate of inflation. The study would also look at the economic impacts of raising the wage to this level. (The motion does not call for a study of raising the wage to $13.25, though a limited economic impact study is likely required under previously passed legislation.)
Labor unions have called for raising the city’s minimum wage above $15 an hour, saying anything less is insufficient for wage earners to escape poverty. They are also circulating an initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by July 1, 2017.
Bonin, in a statement to the San Fernando Business Journal's sister paper in Los Angeles, called the motion both an anti-poverty program and new approach to supporting businesses.
“When people don’t earn enough to pay for basic needs, they don’t have any money to spend in local businesses,” Bonin said. “When people earn a fair wage, they spend money locally, stimulating economic growth and creating jobs in the process.”
But the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce issued a statement calling for more study of the wage proposal.
“This is a major economic decision and councilmembers should take the time to conduct a substantial and independent economic impact study,” said chamber Chief Executive Gary Toebben. “They should also reach out to businesses in their districts to collect real examples of how this minimum wage proposal would affect employment.”
Last week, the Council passed an ordinance raising the minimum wage for workers at large hotels to $15.37 an hour; Garcetti has indicated he will sign that ordinance. Hotel industry groups have threatened legal action should he sign the measure.