LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The City Council has voted in favor, 14-2, to increase Los Angeles’ minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years.
The council met at 10 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the proposal, which was unanimously approved on May 13 by its Economic Development Committee. It’s the first of two votes needed to finalize the bill.
“Today, help is on the way for one million Angelenos who live in poverty,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “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.”
Officials explained increases will take place on the first of July of each year. Beginning in 2016, the minimum wage will go from $9 per hour to $10.50 an hour.
The rate will then jump to $12 in 2017; $13.25 in 2018; $14.25 in 2019; and $15.00 by 2020.
“There is no question in my mind that better pay for workers would provide myriad benefits,” Councilman Mitchell Englander said. “I am not, however, convinced that a unilateral minimum-wage increase serves the intended purpose and may, worse, have unintended consequences such as job loss, reduction in working hours, or make it impossible for entire industries to do business in the City of Los Angeles.”
For small businesses with 25 or fewer employees, each of the dates will be moved back by one year.
Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, said he feels the L.A. minimum-wage hike will hurt businesses, but “the battle is over.”
In Atwater Village, Andy Hasroun owns and operates a restaurant and wine shop with 15 employees. The spot is doing great business and Hasroun sometimes finds himself working 16-hour shifts.
Hasroun says the measure will put him at a huge disadvantage when it comes to nearby competitors in Glendale, just outside the L.A. city line. “For now, we are already looking at…moving to Glendale. We’re looking into it right now, as we speak.”
In L.A., 800,000 people live below the poverty line and 500,000 workers earn minimum wage.
Bryan also spoke with 18-year-old student Gamaliel Martinez. He says his low-wage family barely earns enough to pay the rent and feed nine children. He says raising the minimum wage could have a tremendous impact on his family and his own life.
“I really want to be a general doctor, even though it might take 10 years. So if the City Council votes to raise up the minimum wage that could help me out for my college,” Martinez said.
He says the bill offers hope to low-earning families who aspire towards the American Dream. “If they can raise the wages it would help a lot of lives and a lot of parents, mostly the future youth.”
Other cities, such as San Francisco and Seattle, have passed plans similar to the proposal.