L.A. County business group opposes proposed minimum wage hikes

Business alliance announces it is opposed to hiking the minimum wage across the city of Los Angeles

An alliance of Los Angeles County business groups announced Wednesday that it is opposed to hiking the citywide minimum wage in Los Angeles.

The L.A. County Business Federation, also known as BizFed, argued that boosting the minimum wage to $13.25 an hour by 2017 -- or higher, to $15.25 by 2019 -- as proposed by some city leaders would harm efforts to reduce poverty by driving jobs away from the city.

Reducing poverty "is best achieved by creating good-paying middle-class jobs that can actually lift individuals and families out of poverty," BizFed chair MC Townsend, president of the Regional Black Chamber of Commerce of San Fernando Valley, said in a statement.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed increasing the citywide minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017, arguing it will pull families out of poverty and jump-start the local economy. Labor activists and some city council members want base pay to go higher, to $15.25 by 2019.

The business group, which includes more than 100 organizations across the county, argued that phasing out the city's tax on business gross receipts, making it easier to build affordable housing and other efforts would be better ways of creating jobs and reducing poverty.

The federation argued that raising the minimum wage in L.A. was "premature" because the California minimum wage is already slated to increase to $10 next year, and there hasn't been an opportunity to analyze the effects of that increase.

It also raised a number of other concerns about the L.A. wage proposals, including "the lack of exemptions for nonprofits, the challenge of dealing with tipped employees, enforcement mechanisms, and the effects on teenage workers," according to the statement.

The business federation also said it opposed the selection of the same UC Berkeley research team that did an earlier, largely favorable analysis of Garcetti's proposed wage boost to examine the economic effects of hiking the minimum wage to $13.25 or $15.25. It backed a call by City Councilmen Mitch O'Farrell and Felipe Fuentes to restart the selection process.

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