Chefs at Parq Restaurant
Chefs at Parq Restaurant

L.A. Committee Votes to Hike Minimum Wage to $15 by 2020

L.A.'s minimum wage will rise to $15 an hour by July 1, 2020, under a plan approved today by the City Council's Economic Development Committee.

The measure — L.A.'s first city minimum wage — marks another victory for a fast-moving campaign to raise the standard of living for low-wage workers in cities across the country.

The committee voted 7-0 to approve the proposal, which will go to the full City Council for approval next week. The vote caps more than eight months of debate, which began with Mayor Eric Garcetti's call to increase the wage to $13.25 by 2017.

The vote comes as a defeat for the city's business community, and especially for restaurants, which had fought to include tips in the wage calculations. After several weeks of lobbying, the restaurant community was unable to persuade council members that its proposal — known as "total compensation" — was permitted under California law.

The council committee did agree to a delayed phase-in for small businesses and certain nonprofits. Any business with 25 employees or fewer will have until July 1, 2021, to reach the $15 minimum.

Beginning in 2022, the minimum wage for all employers will be indexed to inflation. The city will use a rolling 20-year average of the Consumer Price Index to calculate each year's increase.

The council's Budget and Finance Committee also voted last week to set aside $500,000 to hire five staffers to begin enforcement of wage laws. The enforcement provision was a key item for labor groups.

The committee's version is a compromise between Garcetti's original proposal and a competing one offered by several more pro-labor council members, which would have raised the wage to $15.25 by 2019. Under Garcetti's plan, it would have taken until about 2022 to reach the $15 minimum, depending on inflation.

The state's minimum wage will increase to $10 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016.

The committee's proposal calls for increases to $10.50 by July 1, 2016; $12 by July 1, 2017; $13.25 by July 1, 2018; $14.25 by July 1, 2019; and $15 by July 1, 2020. Those increases would each be delayed by one year for small businesses.

A statewide measure, expected to go on next year's ballot, could make the city's ordinance moot. The measure would increase the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021.

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