Nine things to know about boosting the minimum wage in L.A.

Minimum Wage Rally
In a January rally outside Los Angeles City Hall, labor leader Dolores Huerta urges the City Council to increase the minimum wage.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles lawmakers will hold the first in a string of public hearings Tuesday on whether to boost the citywide minimum wage. Here are the basic things to know about the plan:

How much could the minimum wage go up?

There are two proposals to hike the minimum wage: Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a step-by-step plan to boost it to $13.25 by 2017. After that, the minimum wage would automatically increase along with an inflation index.

Some City Council members want to go further. They have proposed boosting the wage to $15.25 by 2019, building on the gradual plan that Garcetti proposed.


What is the minimum wage in Los Angeles now?

L.A. has no citywide minimum wage, but businesses here and across California must pay at least $9 an hour -- the state minimum wage. That state requirement will increase to $10 in January.

What are the arguments for and against boosting the minimum wage?

Garcetti and other proponents of hiking the minimum wage, including labor unions, say it would pull families out of poverty and stimulate the local economy. Key business groups counter it would reduce profits and force businesses to relocate or cut jobs, hurting local workers.


What would happen if L.A. hiked wages?

That’s exactly what L.A. officials are debating. City officials recently tapped a UC Berkeley research team to analyze the economic effects of boosting wages to $13.25 or $15.25.

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce also chose an economist to examine the plan, as did the county labor federation. Those three studies came to different conclusions about whether the L.A. economy would be helped or hurt, and whether the city would gain or lose jobs.

Didn’t the city already boost the minimum wage for some workers?

Last year, the council approved a wage boost to at least $15.37 for workers at large hotels in the city. That requirement will go into effect in July for hotels with at least 300 rooms and expand a year later to those with at least 150 rooms.

Before that, the city had hiked wages at hotels near Los Angeles International Airport and also imposed requirements for minimum pay for city contractors.

Would anyone be excluded from the minimum wage hike?

That’s one of the things lawmakers are debating. Some critics argue that small businesses and nonprofits should be exempt from the wage rules.


Another question is whether trainees or young workers would be left out. Business groups have also argued that the city should find a legal way to adjust the city wage boost for workers who get tips. California does not allow tips to be counted toward its minimum wage.

How would the city enforce the rules?

That’s also up for debate. Some backers of the minimum wage hike argue that the city needs new tools, including a city enforcement agency, to prevent businesses from paying less than the minimum wage. Wage theft is already illegal, but activists say the existing process to pursue claims with the state labor commissioner is too slow and ineffective.

Why is L.A. considering this idea now?

Los Angeles leaders are following in the footsteps of other cities such as Seattle and San Francisco, where lawmakers have voted to increase the minimum wage. The national push to raise wages comes amid growing concern about income inequality.

When and where can Angelenos weigh in on the minimum wage?

A council committee is holding the first in a series of public hearings on the idea Tuesday at 1 p.m. at City Hall. There are three other hearings coming up in different parts of the city:

March 26, 6 p.m. -- 10950 S. Central Ave.


March 31, 6 p.m. -- 6262 Van Nuys Blvd.

April 2, 6 p.m. -- 9786 W. Pico Blvd.

Follow @latimesemily for what’s happening at Los Angeles City Hall

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