The Los Angeles City Council is expected to approve a plan to increase the city’s hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2020. That would make the nation’s second-largest city the latest to adopt a wage floor that is more than twice the current national minimum wage of $7.25.
Los Angles would follow in the steps of San Francisco and Seattle, which have already adopted new minimum wage laws that would gradually reach $15 per hour. In L.A.’s proposal, the minimum would reach $15 by 2020. Dozens of other U.S. cities are considering similar laws. California’s current minimum wage is $9. It is estimated that about 40 percent of L.A.’s work force earns less than $15 an hour.
Workers across the country continue to rally for higher wages, and several large companies, including Facebook and Walmart, have acted on their own to raise their lowest wages.
“The effects here (in Los Angeles) will be the biggest by far,” Michael Reich, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was commissioned by L.A. leaders to conduct impact studies on a minimum-wage increase, told the New York Times. “The proposal will bring wages up in a way we haven’t seen since the 1960s. There’s a sense spreading that this is the new norm, especially in areas that have high costs of housing.”
Because minimum wage proposals have not made headway at the federal level, several cities and states have been forced to reevaluate what they pay minimum wage employees. California’s hourly wage will increase to $10 on Jan. 1.
Senators Urge Obama to Issue ‘Model Employer’ Order
In a letter to the White House led by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, on Friday, 18 senators, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asked Obama to issue a “model employer” executive order, which would delegate federal government contracts to firms that pay a living wage, offer health care and sick leave, and guarantee union rights for workers.
The letter reads: “Mr. President, the stroke of your pen can have transformative impact for millions of workers,” the letter states. “As low-wage fast food, retail and federal contract workers continue to strike in growing numbers to ‘Fight for $15 and a Union,’ we urge you to harness the power of the presidency to help these workers achieve the American Dream.”
Obama has already issued executive orders aimed at improving pay and working conditions for workers employed under federal contracts. That includes an order that sets a $10.10 minimum wage for such workers. The senators are urging the president to “build further on that momentum.”