The following is a statement from Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project in response to the Los Angeles City Council’s historic passage of a $15 minimum wage on Wednesday:
“Today, Los Angeles became the largest city to approve a minimum wage of $15, giving hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers the pay raise they demand and need, and showing that $15 per hour is no longer just a slogan, but tangible reality.
“By a vote of 13 to 1, the L.A. City Council adopted a measure setting the city’s wage floor to $15 by July 2020 for large businesses and by July 2021 for smaller businesses and certain non-profits. Beginning July 2022, the minimum wage will increase at a rate based on the cost of living. The impact of the L.A. City Council’s vote will be far-reaching. Analysis of a similar earlier proposal, which would have raised the rate to $15.25 by 2019, found that over 40 percent of the L.A.’s workforce (609,000 workers) would benefit from a $15.25 minimum wage.
“With Los Angeles, the movement for a $15 minimum wage has gone mainstream, expanding from smaller cities to the nation’s second largest labor market. And other cities and states appear poised to follow shortly. Last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the appointment of a wage board to implement pay increases for hundreds of thousands of fast-food workers across New York State who are demanding a $15 wage. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay this week called for a $15 minimum wage in that city, and Kansas City, Missouri is similarly pushing for a large increase this summer; SeaTac, San Francisco, and Seattle have already adopted $15 rates, and similar proposals are pending or planned for Washington (DC), Portland (ME), Olympia and Tacoma (WA), and Sacramento and Davis (CA). Emeryville (CA) has adopted a $16 rate, and Chicago a $13 rate. The L.A. City Council’s adoption of $15 is further proof that what seemed an unrealistic economic aspiration only two years ago is mainstream economic reality today.
“Tens of millions of workers across the country – 42 percent of the workforce – struggle to get by on less than $15 an hour. These are mothers and fathers nurturing America’s future; home care aides providing comfort and care to our loved ones but earning too little to afford the care their own families need; adjunct professors teaching the country’s brightest minds, while juggling massive student debt, poverty pay and the loss of job security; and workers filling the ranks of low-paid temporary and contract jobs newly created by the manufacturing ‘renaissance.’
“These workers, toiling in a variety of industries and occupations, are the foot soldiers in the Fight for $15. They are demanding fair wages and the right to form a union, and they are winning. The spark that was ignited in the small town of SeaTac, Washington in late 2012 has spread from coast to coast, and has been embraced by employers large and small – from industry giants like Facebook and Aetna, to small businesses like the burger restaurant Moo Cluck Moo. The calls for a fair wage have inspired legislative and ballot proposals throughout the country, and voters, local officials and responsible business people are responding to the ‘fierce urgency of now’ demanded by the Fight for $15 with strong minimum wage increases.
“The National Employment Law Project commends the L.A. City Council for their leadership in raising the wage for hundreds of thousands of hardworking but poorly compensated Angelinos, and for delivering hope to millions of others throughout the country.”
The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers. For more about NELP, visit stage.nelp.org or www.raisetheminimumwage.org.
CONTACT: Emma Stieglitz, emmaS@berlinrosen.com, (646) 200-5307