Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by John Schreiber.

A Los Angeles City Council committee on Tuesday will take up a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles to $13.25 an hour by 2017, as well as the possibility of increasing it to $15.25 an hour by 2019.

The wage hike plan — which was authored by council members Mike Bonin, Gil Cedillo, Nury Martinez and Curren Price Jr. and will be considered by the Economic Development Committee — mirrors Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposal for raising the minimum hourly wage in the city to $13.25 over the next three years, and to peg it to the consumer price index afterward.

The additional increase to $15.25 is being pushed by labor-affiliated groups like Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and the Los Angeles Federation of Labor. Under the council’s wage hike motion, which was seconded by Councilmen Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian, panels such as the one meeting tomorrow would be tasked with studying how the city might increase the wage to $15.25 an hour.

The authors of the motion said earlier this month they hope a proposed ordinance comes before the full council by January.

Supporters of the wage hike say it will help those living poverty, while those pushing for a further increase to $15 an hour say the 46 percent of workers in Los Angeles, or about 810,000 people, who make less than that do not earn enough cover basic necessities.

But business groups, led by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, oppose the mayor’s minimum-wage boost and say it would result in job losses.

The council’s minimum wage hike proposal also drew skeptism from some members of the City Council, including five who introduced a motion last week calling for additional scrutiny of the economic impacts.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, one of the motion’s authors, said that while he supports efforts to raise the minimum wage, “the conversation about imposing an increase needs to be elevated and expanded.”

“It is critical we do everything we can to help lift people out of poverty. It is equally critical we do so in a thoughtful and balanced way,” he said.

That minimum wage hike motion relied solely on a study released in September by UC Berkeley economists, and the Economic Development Committee tomorrow will consider the motion by O’Farrell, Bob Blumenfield and three other council members calling for a study on how raising the minimum wage would affect small businesses, nonprofits and startups.

Their motion asks to exempt certain industries, including nonprofits, from the wage hike.

O’Farrell said he met with people who run small businesses, and they told him increasing the minimum wage could force them out of business.

Councilwoman Nury Martinez and Councilman Paul Krekorian, both of whom signed onto the earlier minimum wage proposal, are among those now also asking for an economic analysis.

The state minimum wage of $9 an hour is set to rise to $10 in January 2016. But for thousands of workers at non-union Los Angeles hotels with 300 or more rooms, the minimum wage is scheduled to jump to $15.37 an hour on July 1 under an ordinance recently approved by City Council. Hotels with at least 150 rooms will be required to match that raise, starting July 1, 2016.

City News Service

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