Calif.: Los Angeles City Council Votes to Increase Minimum Wage to $15

By Joanne Deschenaux May 21, 2015
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The Los Angeles City Council voted on May 19 2015, to raise the city’s minimum wage from $9 to $15 by 2020.

The council voted 14-1 to phase in the wage increase over five years. It will rise to to $10.50 in July 2016, to $12 in 2017, $13.25 in 2018, $14.25 in 2019 and $15 in 2020. Starting in 2022, annual increases will be linked to inflation.

“Help is on the way for the one million Angelenos who live in poverty,” Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat, said in a statement after the vote. “I started this campaign to raise the minimum wage to create broader economic prosperity in our city and because the minimum wage should not be a poverty wage in Los Angeles.”

Councilman Mitchell Englander, the council’s only Republican, cast the only opposing vote. In a statement, he said the council action could “make it impossible for entire industries to do business” in Los Angeles.

“The very last thing that we should be doing as a city is creating a competitive disadvantage for our businesses with those in neighboring cities,” said Englander, who represents the northwest San Fernando Valley.

California’s state-wide minimum wage, now $9, will go to $10 an hour in January 2016. A bill pending in the legislature (Senate Bill 3) would go beyond that increase and raise the rate to $13 by 2017.

The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009. As of Jan. 1, 2015, 29 states and the District of Columbia had adopted a minimum wage above the federal level, according to the National Employment Law Project, a New York- based advocacy group.

Joanne Deschenaux, J.D., is SHRM’s senior legal editor.

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