South L.A.’s largest health center has decided to increase the minimum wage of its workers to $15 an hour, making St. John’s Well Child & Family Center one of the nation’s first nonprofits to move from minimum wage to living-wage.
Jim Mangria, St. John’s president and CEO, made the announcement today in front of a crowd of workers and community members who chanted, “Fifteen! Fifteen! Fifteen!”
To hear sounds and perspectives from the event, click play on a radio story from Annenberg Radio News:
The decision was the result of a bargaining agreement between St. John’s and Service Employees International Union 721.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who joined Mangria at the event, said the wage increase can help to boost L.A.’s economy.
“People seem to believe Los Angeles is broke, but I guarantee you Los Angeles is more profitable than any other city across the country in many ways,” he said. “We, if anyone, can afford to do it.”
Councilman Curren Price representing South L.A.’s District 9 was also on hand to support St. John’s. He and councilmembers Nury Martinez and Mike Bonin are pushing for workers at large L.A. hotels to earn a living wage of $15.37 an hour.
St. John’s employee Fabrizzio Perez said he’s hopeful the trend will continue throughout the nation, especially at nonprofits. As a kid growing up in South L.A., his parents worked multiple jobs to support the family.
“I’ve always honored the worth of hard work and dedication,” said Perez. “It’s inspiring to now witness the organization I work for bravely embarking upon a movement to pay its employees a livable wage.”
Early this month St. John’s increased wages by 3 percent for all union members. This time next year all employees earning below $15 an hour will be brought up to $15. Employees who are already receiving this living wage but make less than $20 an hour will earn a 5 percent increase. Employees earning above $20 an hour are slated to receive a 3 percent raise.
For more information on St. John’s, visit http://www.wellchild.org.
For more about South L.A. nonprofits empowering the community check out our Nonprofit Spotlight series.