Los Angeles City Council members convened Tuesday for an Economic Development Committee hearing on a motion that would raise the minimum wage for workers in the City of Los Angeles to $13.25 per hour beginning in July 2017, and link future wage hikes to the Consumer Price Index. The motion also calls for an independent study on the economic impact of raising the minimum wage to $15.25 per hour after 2017. Councilmembers further discussed a closely related motion that would focus on the challenge of implementing and enforcing the new wage laws.
Supporters from a variety of local community and labor organizations, each wearing different colored T-shirts, showed up to back the wage increase, including from the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), L.A. Black Workers Center and Restaurant Opportunities Center Los Angeles (ROC-LA), among others. The hearing, which came just a month after Council members voted to raise the minimum wage to $15.37 for certain hotel workers,
If you watched the Roosevelt series on PBS, as I did, you might have been struck by how Teddy and FDR saw their presidential duties. Both acted on the belief that the role of the federal government was to secure the material wellbeing of the American people. In their eyes the central government had a responsibility for full employment, living wage jobs and reining in the power of corporate America, among other initiatives. They took responsibility for how the national economy impacted the ordinary citizen and saw government action as a vehicle to reverse economic suffering.
Fast forward to the present. We now have a largely paralyzed federal government, consumed in debate over whether or not government action is a curse or a blessing, and unable or unwilling to address the widening income gap. In response, many major American cities are stepping into that pro-active, Roosevelt role; new minimum wage laws have been passed,
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray used last May Day to announce that business and labor had agreed to a historic plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Seattle’s bold measure is part of a growing wave of activism and local legislation around the country to help lift the working poor out of poverty. The gridlock in Washington – where Congress hasn’t boosted the federal minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 an hour, since 2009 – has catalyzed a growing movement in cities and states.
The Seattle victory was a game-changer. Within months, politicians in other cities jumped on the bandwagon. San Diego city officials voted in August to adopt a $11.50 an hour by 2017. In San Francisco, which already has a citywide minimum wage, voters will decide in November whether to raise it to $15.
On September 24, the Los Angeles City Council voted by a 12 to 3 margin to require large hotels to pay at least $15.37 an hour to their workers.
The recent Los Angeles City Council vote to raise hourly pay for 10,000 hotel workers to $15.37 could be part of an historic groundswell to create a new minimum wage across Los Angeles and beyond.
The Los Angeles City Council is expected to soon take up an introductory motion that would raise compensation for more than half a million employees throughout the city now laboring at California’s minimum $9 hourly standard.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who rolled out the proposal on Labor Day with eight council members at his elbow, commissioned an impact study that calculates some 567,000 workers would benefit from the pay raise by 2017.
Garcetti has proposed a wage of $13.25 an hour, which would result in an annual wage boost of $3,200 per worker. Some advocates are pushing for a higher wage, as well as other provisions including paid sick days and strict enforcement to guard against wage theft.
For days before Thanksgiving, 2009, Santa Ana winds had been blowing up ash and dust from the massive Station Fire that recently burned north of Los Angeles. The scorching, high-pressure weather system seemed a suitable climate for L.A.’s financial meltdown as the city entered the third year of America’s recessionary slump. Inside City Hall on that Wednesday before the holiday, government representatives and members of the news media listened to the testimony of a man who was on his way to becoming one of Los Angeles’ most powerful figures. He was only 40, held no elective office and had started his job as the City Administrative Officer just three months before.
Yet on this Thanksgiving eve Miguel Santana held the rapt attention of the City Council and journalists as he delivered shocking news: Los Angeles faced an imminent shortfall of $98 million and, based on his projections, the city could be burdened by a $1 billion debt by 2013.