L.A.’s minimum wage hike got one step closer to becoming law on Wednesday, but will need yet another approval from the City Council before going to Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 on an ordinance to raise the city’s minimum wage, but the measure needed a unanimous vote to be adopted immediately. A second and final vote will be held on June 10 before the measure is sent to Garcetti.
The proposal would increase the city’s wage from the current statewide minimum of $9 an hour to $15 an hour over the next five years. The first increase, to $10.50 an hour, is scheduled for July 1, 2016. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees and some nonprofits will receive an extra year with the first hike coming in 2017.
Councilman Mitch Englander, who represents the northwest San Fernando Valley, was the lone opposition vote Wednesday. Like many business groups, he has said the wage hike will result in job losses.
“While everyone agrees that there is genuine poverty in the City of Los Angeles, no minimum wage increase can be high enough to offset the impact of job loss or reduced working hours that will result from a remedy that puts the complete burden on the backs of business,” Englander said Wednesday. “The solution requires a balanced, multi-pronged effort.”
Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, which has strongly opposed the measure, told the Council that the law was the wrong strategy for combating poverty.
"Let's instead talk about this city's jobs plan, which we don't have," he said. "Let's talk about recruiting and retaining businesses in this city, which we don't do. Let's ask the mayor why he has only three staff on his business team when the three previous administrations had one in each council district."
But Councilwoman Nury Martinez said boosting the minimum wage is about making sure the city’s working poor get their due.
“Single moms who are barely making ends meet, children who are going to school hungry – a lot of what we talk about is very real for them,” Martinez said. “We can study this issue to death and trust me, folks around this horseshoe will want to study this to death but this is not about just doing the right thing. People who are poor in this city don’t get their fair share.”