LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to incrementally raise the minimum wage in unincorporated areas over the next five years, reaching $15 an hour by 2020.
The county wage boost will include a series of increases over the next five years for unincorporated areas, beginning July 1, 2016.
Under the plan, wages will rise to $10.50 per hour in July 2016; $12 per hour in 2017; $13.25 per hour in 2018; $14.25 per hour in 2019; and $15 per hour in 2020.
“Many county residents, despite working full time, earn too little in wages to cover even the bare necessities, such as safe housing, healthy food, adequate clothing and basic medical care,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who spoke at a meeting packed with people wanting to weigh in on the historic vote.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti urged the board to pass Kuehl’s motion and match the minimum wage ordinance passed by the City of Los Angeles last month: “Today’s vote is a vote, like the one we had in Los Angeles city, for self sufficiency. Not for people not to work, but for people to work and to be able to support themselves.”
One speaker addressed the board with the help of an interpreter, and was brought to tears, when he talked about trying to provide for his family on the current minimum wage.
Some business owners openly registered their opposition to the ordinance.
“I am looking to move operations outside of the area impacted by your decision,” business owner Ken Wiseman said to the board.
After listening to more than 80 speakers, the supervisors passed the motion, which directs its staff to draw up the minimum wage ordinance and bring it back to the board for approval.
The board also approved a small business initiative, which will look into ways to ease the blow this wage hike may have on smaller businesses. Officials explained the ordinance will delay the increase by one year for businesses that have fewer than 26 employees.
The bill will also enforce wage theft and increase the number of paid sick days.
After 2020, the minimum wage will be adjusted annually based on the cost of living.
The proposal was discussed in June, but city officials postponed a vote due to concerns from the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation and other business owners who expressed concern that the wage hike may cause them to close their shops.
On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Southern California to discuss the importance of increasing the federal minimum wage and expanding over time protection.
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