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Rally to Raise L.A. County’s Living Wage

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In 1999 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a Living Wage Ordinance applicable to private businesses that contract with the county to provide certain services, including landscaping, janitorial and security. The reason for the ordinance was simple: The state’s minimum wage at the time — $5.75 per hour—was insufficient and the failure of some county contractors to pay their workers living wages was placing financial burdens on L.A. County by causing these employees to use social and health services provided by the county.

The board set the living wage initially at $9.46 per hour without health benefits, or at $8.32 per hour if an employer offered health benefits worth at least $1.14 per hour. Since then, the living wage has been raised only once, in 2006, when the board approved an increase to the current level of $11.84 per hour without health benefits, or $9.64 with health benefits valued at $2.20 per hour. To put it mildly, the county’s living wage since then has not kept pace with the cost of living. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that since 1999 the cost of living in the Los Angeles metropolitan area has risen at nearly twice the rate of the living wage. The cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, has jumped by more than 44 percent – while the living wage has risen by only 25 percent. Health care costs in particular have risen far beyond what the current Living Wage Ordinance contemplated.

To make matters worse, the cost of living in the Los Angeles metropolitan area has risen substantially since 2004. Updated to account for inflation, that $12.90-per-hour figure would now be $15.96 per hour.  That is why tomorrow, Tuesday, August 27, a rally will be held to urge the supes to take a new look at the county’s living wage  and to strongly encourage them to raise it to a more reasonable level.

What: Rally to increase the county’s living wage.

When: Tuesday, August 27, noon.

Where: Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple St., downtown L.A.

More Info: (213) 368-8650 or see flyer here.

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