Activists Pursue Initiative to Raise Minimum Wage in Los Angeles to $15/Hour

If successful, they could get the measure before voters by next year.

A group of activists want voters to decide whether to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles to $15 an hour. Patch file photo.
A group of activists want voters to decide whether to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles to $15 an hour. Patch file photo.

Originally posted at 5:53 p.m. July 14, 2014. Edited with new details. 

A group of activists is hoping to get an initiative before Los Angeles voters, possibly by next year, that would raise the minimum wage to $15 for workers in the city.

The proposal was submitted to the City Clerk's Office last week by John Parker, Jose Medina, Maggie Vascessenno, Scott Scheffer and Essie Crosby.

Their proposal calls for a $15 minimum wage that would go into effect immediately for larger employers, while smaller employers would have less than two years to comply. It also calls for the minimum wage to be raised in conjunction with future cost-of-living increases.

"Empowering the low wage workers is a way of creating the forces needed to make this country change in the right direction. What happens in Los Angeles is going to affect the whole nation," Parker told Video News West from his home in South Central Los Angeles.

The proposal goes well beyond a measure being considered by the Los Angeles City Council that would increase the minimum wage to about $15 for some hotel workers.

Councilman Mike Bonin, who co-authored the hotel worker minimum wage motion, said he would need to take a closer look at the initiative proposal, but added that he has "long been supportive of the citywide minimum wage" idea.

He said a $15 minimum wage is a matter of "simple economic justice" that dates back to when Martin Luther King Jr. led a march on Washington, D.C., calling for an end to poverty and to raise the minimum wage to $2. That $2 raise would now be $15, if adjusted for inflation."

Bonin said he also likes the idea of automatically increasing the minimum wage to keep up with inflation.

The proposed citywide minimum-wage hike is still in its infancy. The city attorney still needs to write a title and summary for the initiative, and the proponents of the initiative would need to collect more than 60,000 valid signatures to get it qualified for the ballot, according to Maria Garcia of the City Clerk's office.

According to Parker, when  people are unable afford basic necessities, it  is a "dangerous situation" in Los Angeles.

"This is what people are demanding, and we think we are going to get it," Parker said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has said he would sign an ordinance enacting a $15 minimum wage for hotel workers. But Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb said he could not comment on the latest minimum wage increase proposal, saying "we are currently reviewing" it.

"Overall, Mayor Garcetti's top priority is the prosperity of L.A. families, and the minimum wage plays a key role in the health of our communities," Robb said.

California's minimum wage rose to $9 this month, and is expected to hit $10 an hour by 2016.

Some business leaders have decried efforts to dramatically boost the minimum wage, saying it could result in fewer jobs as business owners struggle to control labor costs.

A consultant hired by the city to review the proposed wage increase for hotel workers concluded in a report that while some employees would benefit, others would suffer if hotel owners are forced to impose layoffs or hiring freezes.

Parker said he believes the higher wage will generate more revenue in the community.

"It's a boost to the economy," he said.

--City News Service

MICHAEL ZITTERMAN July 16, 2014 at 09:27 AM
A "minimum wage" increase is, purely, insane and the concept of a minimum wage, as presently, constituted is beyond inappropriate. mz
Penny Arévalo July 16, 2014 at 11:22 AM
@Mr. Strickland, comment deleted because of a violation of our Terms of Use. They're found at the bottom of every page at Patch should you have questions.
Brentwood Resident # 49 July 16, 2014 at 03:29 PM
Fernando, are you really OK with those in poverty committing crimes or at least insinuating that you can understand that decision making?
Fernando lopez July 16, 2014 at 08:40 PM
Of course penny, we all know you can only put people down on the patch of you do it in a intelligent manner. How dare you Strickland. And Brentwood resident, Im not even going bother answering that question. I'm sure you were born with a silver spoon in your "pocket". Rough life I'm sure you experienced.


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