The following is a statement from Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project:
“The Los Angeles City Council today joined the ranks of U.S. cities tackling poverty wages and spiraling income inequality through adoption of strong local minimum wages. By a vote of 14 to 1, the council directed L.A.’s city attorney to prepare legislation setting a $15 wage floor. The new rate will be phased in over several years, reaching $15 in 2020 for large businesses and in 2021 for smaller businesses and certain non-profits, and providing for future adjustments to be pegged to increases in the cost of living.
“The impact of the council’s endorsement of a $15 minimum wage is huge. Analysis of a similar earlier proposal, raising the rate to $15.25 by 2019, found that more than 600,000 workers—over 40 percent of the L.A. workforce—would ultimately benefit from the increase. Following so close on the heels of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s groundbreaking appointment of a wage board to recommend pay increases for hundreds of thousands of fast-food workers across New York State, the L.A. City Council’s endorsement of $15 is further proof that what seemed an unrealistic economic aspiration only two years ago is mainstream economic reality today.
“Whether it’s fast-food workers paid poverty wages to prepare Happy Meals for others’ children but unable to meet their own kids’ needs; home care aides tirelessly providing comfort and care to our loved ones but earning too little to afford care when they need it; adjunct professors armed with graduate degrees and massive debt relegated to itinerant lecturer status at poverty pay; or workers filling the ranks of low-paid temporary and contract jobs newly created by the manufacturing “renaissance,” tens of millions of workers across America—42 percent of the workforce—struggle to get by on less than $15 an hour. These are the foot soldiers in the Fight for $15, who in increasing numbers are taking to the streets to demand decent wages and organizing rights.
“And more and more now, they are winning. It started with the small town of SeaTac, Washington in late 2012, spread to Seattle and San Francisco, was embraced by employers like Facebook and Aetna, and has been incorporated in legislative and ballot proposals in Washington D.C., Portland, Maine, and elsewhere. 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.
“Today, Los Angeles becomes the latest and largest city to throw its support behind the legions of workers who ask for nothing less than to be paid a fair and decent wage. The National Employment Law Project commends the city’s leaders for this important and just action.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2015
CONTACT: Emma Stieglitz, emmaS@berlinrosen.com,