The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval today to an ordinance that raises the minimum wage in Los Angeles to $15 per hour by 2020 for hundreds of thousands of workers.
The council voted 12-1 to approve the wage hike ordinance, with Councilman Mitchell Englander casting the dissenting vote. The council gave it preliminary approval last week, but a second vote was necessary because the vote was not unanimous.
When the ordinance is signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the city, with 3.8 million residents, will become the biggest in the country with a $15 minimum wage.
Garcetti has indicated he will sign the ordinance.
"With this vote, the minimum wage will no longer be a poverty wage in Los Angeles,'' he said last week. "I want to thank the City Council for joining me in building a city that provides greater opportunity and possibility for all of our residents."
Under the ordinance, the city minimum wage will increase to $10.50 per hour in July 2016 for businesses with 26 or more employees, with a one-year delay for smaller businesses. By 2016, the state minimum wage will have risen to $10 per hour.
The wage will then go up to $12 an hour by July 2017, $13.25 per hour by July 2018, $14.25 per hour by July 2019 and ultimately to $15 by July 2020. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees will start raising their wages one year later and have until 2021 to reach the $15-an-hour mark.
Once the wage reaches $15 per hour for both small and large employers, the ordinance calls for the minimum wage in 2022 to continue increasing based on the cost of living.
City officials are still considering possible amendments to the wage law, such as a proposed exemption from the $15 minimum wage for workers covered under collective bargaining agreements.
Labor leaders who led the campaign to raise the minimum wage are pushing for inclusion of the exemption from the wage for their own union members. They say they provision is a "standard'' part of wage laws in many other cities, including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and San Diego, and contend the provision is aimed at respecting existing collective bargaining agreements, as well as giving employers and workers wiggle room to reach the best labor agreement for both sides.
However, business leaders who opposed the wage increase say the same people who wanted the minimum wage hike in Los Angeles now want to their own union members to be given a "sub minimum'' wage. They pointed to Seattle's $15 minimum wage law, which does not have an exemption for unionized workers.
Members of the council are also looking for more clarity on what constitutes an employee in Los Angeles. The ordinance defines an employee as someone who works at least two hours within Los Angeles city limits, which means businesses located outside the city could potentially be paying the higher wages for hours their employees work within Los Angeles.