Los Angeles workers could soon get a boost to their paychecks if Mayor Eric Garcetti gets his way. City Hall officials tell the Los Angeles Times that the mayor has set his sights on raising the city’s minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017.
LA’s minimum wage currently stands at $9 an hour (the California state minimum wage rose to $9 last month and is set to reach $10 an hour in 2016). Under the plan Mayor Garcetti is expected to announce on Labor Day, the city's rate could rise to $10.25 “immediately” and then go up by $1.50 a year over two years, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Such an announcement would catapult Los Angeles into the growing movement of cities and states that are tweaking (or proposing to tweak) their hourly wages amid a national debate on income inequality. This spring Seattle approved the highest minimum wage in the country, $15 an hour. Just this month, San Diego's city council overrode a mayoral veto to raise the minimum wage to $11.50. In November, San Francisco voters will cast ballots on whether to bump their city's hourly minimum to $15 by 2018.
As far as winning over employers, Seattle and San Diego present divergent case studies -- the former an exercise in peaceful negotiation, the latter still locked in heated battle.
Up in the Pacific Northwest, Bloomberg BusinessWeek detailed Mayor Ed Murray's brand of wage-hike diplomacy, through which he managed to scuttle the “anger and political bloodshed” of similar efforts at both the local and federal levels. How’d he do it? According to the Bloomberg report,
In what may be a model for other cities and states, Murray put business leaders, union bosses and community advocates in a room for months with simple instructions: work out your differences, or else.
The “or else” was that Murray and the city council would do it without them. He had the political momentum to back up the threat.
Meanwhile in San Diego, a business group is racing to gather nearly 34,000 signatures to halt the increase and put it to a broader vote. Those efforts have reportedly sparked tense standoffs with wage-hike supporters, according to public broadcaster KPBS.
While union leaders in Los Angeles are praising a potential increase, local business leaders have already indicated they were caught off guard by Mayor Garcetti's plan. As Central City Association CEO Carol Schatz put it to the L.A. Times: "It seemed that he put this together very quickly without outreach."