Min­i­mum wage hike: Mayor Eric Garcetti signs am­bi­tious L.A. mea­sure into law.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By David Zahniser david.zahniser@la­times.com

Promis­ing to pro­vide re­lief for fam­i­lies en­dur­ing “back-break­ing poverty,” Los An­ge­les Mayor Eric Garcetti on Satur­day signed into law a mea­sure rais­ing the city­wide min­i­mum wage to $15 by 2020.

A crowd of more than 500 joined Garcetti in South Los An­ge­les, where he pre­dicted the mea­sure would help more than 600,000 An­ge­lenos pay their rent, pro­vide for their chil­dren and build their sav­ings ac­counts. The mea­sure, he said, would serve as a na­tional model.

“This is about the idea, that Amer­i­can ideal, that when some­one works hard, they should be able to sup­port them­selves, and they should be able to sup­port their fam­i­lies,” he told the crowd.

The wage or­di­nance is the most am­bi­tious pol­icy ini­tia­tive of Garcetti’s first term, which reaches the half­way mark July 1. The sign­ing cer­e­mony, which fea­tured speeches from coun­cil mem­bers, la­bor lead­ers and lowwage work­ers, sounded at some mo­ments like a re­elec­tion cam­paign event. Garcetti also boasted of the city’s ris­ing em­ploy­ment num­bers, grow­ing tourism ac­tiv­ity and con­struc­tion of five newrail lines.

Laphonza But­ler, pres­i­dent of the Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees In­ter­na­tional Union chap­ter that rep­re­sents home care em­ploy­ees, called Garcetti “a cham­pion for work­ers” and said the wage in­crease showed the city is experiencing a “revo­lu­tion of val­ues” and putting work­ers first.

“For ev­ery young per­son that has watched your mother strug­gle to put food on the ta­ble ... wel­come to the revo­lu­tion,” she told the au­di­ence.

The mea­sure will take ef­fect next month. But the first in­crease won’t come un­til July 2016, when the city­wide hourly min­i­mum moves to $10.50. The state’s min­i­mum wage is set to reach $10 in Jan­uary 2016, up fromthe cur­rent $9.

The mea­sure Garcetti signed is some what dif­fer­ent from the one he un­veiled nine months ago. The mayor’s orig­i­nal plan called for the min­i­mum wage to reach $13.25 in 2017. But the coun­cil re­worked the plan, en­sur­ing it will hit that amount in 2018 for busi­nesses with 26 or more em­ploy­ees and in 2019 for com­pa­nies with 25 or fewer work­ers.

It re­mains un­clear how many cities in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia will fol­low L.A.’s lead. Of the 87 other cities in Los An­ge­les County, only a few— West Hol­ly­wood and Santa Mon­ica, for ex­am­ple— have sig­naled their in­tent to pur­sue a sim­i­lar wage in­crease.

Be­cause the move to $15 will be phased in, busi­nesses won’t ini­tially ex­pe­ri­ence ma­jor change, said re­searcher Christo­pher Thorn­berg. As the hourly min­i­mum ap­proaches $15, com­pa­nies will start to con­sider mov­ing to com­mu­ni­ties with lower min­i­mum wages that sur­round L.A., he said. Thorn­berg an­a­lyzed the po­ten­tial ef­fects of the wage in­crease for the Los An­ge­les Area Cham­ber of Com­merce, which op­posed the mea­sure.

“This is a city that’s al­ready be­hind, that’s al­ready fight­ing an up­hill battle” in the com­pe­ti­tion for jobs, said Thorn­berg, found­ing part­ner of the firm Bea­con Eco­nomics.

Garcetti at­tempted to an­swer crit­ics dur­ing the sign­ing cer­e­mony, say­ing that in­creas­ing the min­i­mum wage had drawn sup­port from busi­ness lead­ers like Rick Caruso, the de­vel­oper of the Grove shop­ping cen­ter, and bil­lion­aire Eli Broad.

“We would not have done this,” Garcetti told the crowd, “if we be­lieved this would hurt our econ­omy.”

Pho­to­graphs by Gina Fer­azzi Los An­ge­les Times

A TRI­UMPHANT Mayor Eric Garcetti, left, raises arms with City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Her­bWes­son, cen­ter, and Coun­cil­man Cur­ren Price be­fore sign­ing into law L.A.’s plan to raise itsmin­i­mum wage to $15 by 2020.

AU­DI­ENCE MEM­BERS cheer at the sign­ing cer­e­mony at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in South L.A.

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