The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce formally came out against Mayor Eric Garcetti's $13.25 an hour minimum wage proposal on Tuesday, saying that boosting the rate would "reduce, not increase the number of jobs" in the city.
Chamber President and Chief Executive Gary Toebben said his organization's board concluded that any discussion of a wage hike should be part of a larger economic development strategy for the city. That strategy, said Toebben, does not currently exist.
"We oppose this proposal because it is not part of a comprehensive economic plan," he said. "And we believe that this proposal would actually cost jobs, would cause people to lose jobs and would cause people to have cutbacks in hours."
Toebben predicted employers would "move across the street into another city" to avoid the Garcetti plan, which would take the minimum wage from $9 per hour to $13.25 by 2017.
To counter that possibility, Garcetti has been trying in recent days to persuade officials in neighboring cities, including Santa Monica and West Hollywood, to pursue their own minimum wage hikes. He has been billing his wage proposal as the "largest anti-poverty program in the city's history" and pointing out that some business leaders, such as shopping mall developer Rick Caruso, favor the plan.
"Poverty is bad for business," said Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman. "That's why business leaders such as Eli Broad and Rick Caruso support Mayor Garcetti's proposal, along with dozens of L.A. businesses who have signed up on our website."
The Central City Assn., another downtown-based business group, came out against the proposal last week, saying Garcetti should spread the wage hikes over a longer time frame and allow teenage workers to receive a lower minimum wage. The group also wants healthcare benefits to be counted toward any minimum pay requirements.
Toebben acknowledged that some business owners support Garcetti's proposal, saying those individuals who have taken the stance "understand we have too many people who are living in poverty in Los Angeles.
"That's the statement they're making and we agree with that," he said. "But it is our responsibility ... to talk about the economic realities of this proposal. And I think those other businesses who support the proposal understand that and appreciate that as well."