Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A Los Angeles City Council committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on options for boosting the minimum wage in the city to as high as $15.25 per hour, but a business group complained that not enough advance notice of the meeting was given.

The council’s Economic Development Committee will be considering Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposal to raise the wage to $13.25 per hour by 2017, as well as a more ambitious plan to raise the wage to $15.25 per hour by 2019.

The committee will also debate potential exemptions for small businesses, nonprofits or employers with teenage or apprentice workers. One councilman has suggested a slower pace for the increase and is calling for the wage at larger businesses to go up to $12 per hour by 2017, $13.50 by 2018 and $15.25 by 2021.

If the council reaches consensus and makes a recommendation, the full council could vote on a minimum wage hike as early as next Tuesday, council aides said.

Few details were available about some of the possible tweaks to the wage hike proposal the day before the hearing, prompting Stuart Waldman, head of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association, to say the hearing is “being rushed.”

Waldman said no reports were released on the potential plans the council committee will consider tomorrow, meaning businesses “will not have the time to analyze” them.

“I’d like to see more of a solid plan, more of a proposal, so we’ll know what we’re actually talking about,” Waldman told City News Service. “There are ideas out there, concerns people are talking about, but I haven’t really seen anything concrete that the council is going to be discussing.”

The city could also face legal challenges, with Small Restaurants for Fair Wages, a coalition of restaurant owners, sending the city attorney a letter today threatening to “seek a judicial remedy” if city leaders do not include exemptions for employers of tipped workers.

The group’s members argue that many restaurants could face financial hardship if they are forced to raise wages on waiters who already earn more than the $13.25 per hour or $15.25 per hour minimum wage levels being proposed, due to the tips they earn.

Under state law, it is illegal to count tips toward the minimum wage, but the group says the city has the legal authority to do so if it adopts a more stringent wage law.

“We encourage the city to exercise the fullest extent of its police powers and enact legislation that includes a minimum level of total compensation that incorporates the state minimum wage and documented gratuities,” the group’s attorney wrote in the letter. “If the city adopts legislation that fails to do so, the Small Restaurants for Fair Wages will have no option but to seek a judicial remedy.”

City News Service

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