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Working In These Times

Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 2:19 pm

Los Angeles Is Getting a $15 Minimum Wage

BY Lauren Gaynor

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LA is the biggest city yet to commit to such a huge wage hike. (Fight for $15)  

On Tuesday, Los Angeles passed an ordinance that will raise the citywide minimum wage to $15 by 2020. In a motion that was approved by the Los Angeles City Council 14-1, the minimum wage will increase annually over the span of five years. Starting on July 1, 2016, minimum wage will increase from $8.75 to $10.50 and then $12.00 in 2017, $13.25 in 2018 and $14.25 in 2019.

For businesses and non-profits with fewer than 25 employees, the wage increase will begin a year later, in 2017. Non-profits with over 25 employees can be exempt from the wage increase if they fill out a waiver and meet all of the necessary criteria to be exempt. 

According to the motion released by the Los Angeles City Council, minimum wage will be monitored accordingly once the $15 wage is in place. “Beginning, July 1, 2015, the minimum wage will be increased annually at a rate consistent with the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.”

Although Los Angeles is the largest city in the U.S. to raise the minimum wage, it is not the first to do so. In December, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and the Chicago City Council passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $13 by 2019. Chicago followed in the footsteps of many other cities, including Seattle, which was the first city to do so by passing a bill in June 2014 to raise the wage to $15 over the next seven years.

These victories have been supported by the efforts of labor organizations like Fight for $15, who have petitioned, protested and gone on strike for higher wages, better working conditions and a minimum wage of $15 in over 190 cities around the world. Without such agitation, it’s unlikely  that a target wage as high as $15 would even be considered across the country, much less implemented. The Los Angeles ordinance is the first to come after Fight for $15’s National Day of Action on April 15 when over 60,000 low-wage workers went on strike in order to petition for $15 minimum wage. Today, members of the campaign are marching on the McDonald’s shareholder meeting in suburban Chicago.

The National Day of Action drew attention all over the world, but specifically struck interest in New York when centrist and austerity-minded Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed that fast food workers deserve a raise. He then created a Wage Board on May 7 in order to fully investigate the working wage needed to live and survive in New York. “Through the Wage Board, New York can set fast-food workers on a path out of poverty, ease the burden on taxpayers and create a new national standard.”

Lauren Gaynor is a Summer 2015 In These Times editorial intern. She is a senior English and Professional Writing major at Michigan State University and enjoys theater, music and everything that Chicago has to offer.

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