Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The Long Beach City Council voted to incrementally raise the minimum wage in the city to $13 an hour by 2019.

The council voted 6 to 2 for a plan that would raise the minimum wage to $10.50 as of Jan. 1 2017, $12 the following year and $13 by 2019.

The council also voted on Tuesday — again 6-2 — to commission a study to assess the impacts of a new minimum wage on the economy. If the study finds the city’s wage law to have had salutary effects, Long Beach’s minimum wage would rise to $14 in 2020 and to $15 in 2021.

Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal, who has advocated a Long Beach-specific wage law, crafted the motion to create a schedule for annual minimum wage increases.

“The gap continues to grow between the wealthy and the poor, and we continue to deal with the impacts of a growing class of residents living in poverty,” she said near the beginning of Tuesday’s council debate on the minimum wage issue, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.

The motion approved today gives nonprofits and businesses with 25 or fewer employees a one-year delay on each of the scheduled minimum wage increases.

It also included an amendment letting employers pay a training wage worth 85 percent of the minimum wage to interns and other such employees for the first six months of  employment, according to the Press-Telegram.

And from 2023 on, minimum wage increases would be indexed to inflation within the Greater Los Angeles area.

The council voted after public testimony from speakers, including labor activists registering their opposition to any potential exemptions in a new wage law and restaurant owners who contended that employees’ tips should count toward compliance with the minimum wage, the Press-Telegram reported.

City Attorney Charles Parkin, however, said it is legally questionable whether state law would allow City Hall to craft a law in which tips could be counted as part of an employee’s minimum wage, according to the newspaper. He said he was certain an attempt to write that provision into a law would invite litigation.

—City News Service

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