Los Angeles will become the largest US city to support a major minimum wage hike, after the local City Council agreed on a draft ordinance on Tuesday. The lawmakers promise to increase the minimum base wage for L.A. workers from $9-an-hour to $15 by the end of 2020.
The City Council voted 14 to 1 in favor of setting up an ordinance to get the minimum wage rise under way. A final vote will take place next month, but L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti already announced his support for the law.
Once the mayor signs it, the ordinance will effectively increase the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour as of July 2016. If the draft goes through, Los Angeles will become the largest city in the United States to pass such a measure, joining the likes of San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago, who already approved minimum wage increases.
However, the 800,000 workers who will benefit from the L.A. wage hike make the City Council decision a matter of national importance. The Democratic Party is already pushing for a federal increase of the minimum wage throughout the nation, and L.A.’s example will surely help their campaign.
“Today the city of Los Angeles, the second biggest city in the nation, is leading the nation,” Councilman Paul Krekorian said, one of the authors of the draft. The vote comes after a year of intense debating between city officials and labor leaders, who were backed by Mayor Garcetti.
After the vote, Garcetti announced that the law will greatly benefit about one 1 million L.A. citizens who are trying to make a living on a minimum wage, close to the poverty line. The ordinance will force a gradual wage increase that will happen in several stages – first to $10.50 until July 2016, then $13.25 by 2017 before eventually getting up to the targeted $15 towards the end of 2020.
Labor leaders hope the victory they got in L.A. is only the first step, and similar measures will be passed soon by every major city in America. Most of them agree it is a move in the right direction, although some argued against the slow pace of the increase, who they believe was the result of pressure coming from L.A.’s business groups.
Employers were indeed very dissatisfied with the measure. Some of them warned they will be forced to fire a large number of workers to keep up with the increased costs, or even take their entire businesses away from Los Angeles.
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