Los Angeles Is Getting a $15 Minimum Wage

Lauren Gaynor May 20, 2015

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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