LA County joins City in considering minimum wage hikes

Text and video by Kimberly Leoffler 

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and United States Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez advocated to raise the minimum wage this week, arguing that it would benefit all residents. They also lashed out against wage theft.

“If all the people who lived in poverty in L.A. were an independent city, they’d be the tenth largest in America, the third largest in our state,” Garcetti said.

“In January of this year, seven million Americans got an increase in the minimum wage as a result of state and local action,” Perez added.

The pair was greeted with cheers at an event in Downtown L.A. where hundreds of people with United Service Workers West came out to support an increase in the minimum wage and greater protection for workers.

Tina Tran said she was a victim of wage theft. While she was able to file a claim and settle with her employer, many of her co-workers haven’t been able to do the same. She says she wasn’t paid for overtime and never received meal or rest periods.

“The biggest issue of all was that I was being misclassified,” said Tran. “As a result, that’s why I was not being paid for overtime.”

Minimum wage debates have sprung up across the city. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors commissioned their own study this week to examine the effects of raising the minimum wage. In addition, the City Council’s Economic Development Committee held a meeting Tuesday night to solicit public input.

Originally published in Annenberg TV News.

Joe Biden joins Eric Garcetti in minimum wage push



Vice President Joe Biden came to town Tuesday, meeting up with Mayor Eric Garcetti and business leaders at the L.A. Baking Company in Lincoln Heights to talk dollars and cents. As the scent of scones and croissants wafted through the crowd, Biden emphasized that in order to stimulate the economy, consumers and businesses must invest not only in infrastructure, but also in better paying jobs. The Los Angeles City Council recently voted 12 to 3 in favor of increasing the minimum wage to $13.25.

Hear comments from Biden and Garcetti in a radio piece for Annenberg Radio News

See also: City Council favors raising minimum wage for hotel workers

City Council favors raising minimum wage for hotel workers

The vote tally -- three people dissenting. | LAANE Facebook

The vote tally — three people dissenting. | Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy/ Facebook

South L.A. residents working in the hotel industry might see their hourly wages rise by just over a half beginning next summer.

The Los Angeles City Council took a vote on the issue Wednesday, with 12 out of 15 council members agreeing to raise the minimum wage to $15.37 per hour for workers employed in the city’s largest hotels. The minimum wage is currently $9 per hour.

Council members Bernard Parks, Mitchell Englander and Paul Krekorian dissented. Because the city council did not reach a unanimous decision, it will revisit the issue next week for a final vote. The city council must reach a unanimous decision during next week’s vote for the higher minimum wage to take effect. [Read more…]

$15 minimum wage could help South LA hotel workers

Embassy Suites hotel workers on strike | LA County Federation of Labor

Three Los Angeles City Council members have launched a bid to increase the wages of the city’s hotel workers to $15.37 an hour, a major pay jump for more than 40 percent of the industry’s workers who live below the poverty line.

The raise would affect hotels with more than 100 rooms — 87 of them in L.A. — and an estimated 10,000 employees. Union workers said the increase could lift housekeepers, busboys and maintenance workers out of poverty.

That could be especially significant in South L.A.’s 9th District, an area with the city’s highest poverty rate.

“Income inequality is a persistent issue plaguing our country, our city and especially our under-served South Los Angeles community,” said District 9 councilman Curren Price, who is pushing for the wage increase along with councilmembers Mike Bonin and Nury Martinez representing West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, respectively. [Read more…]

Activists call for May Day worker reforms

Maria Elena Durazo announces the 2014 May Day March in Downtown L.A. | Daina Beth Solomon

Maria Elena Durazo announces the 2014 May Day March in Downtown L.A. | Daina Beth Solomon

Cries of “¡Sí se puede!” and “Yes, we can!” filled the air at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles earlier this month as a crowd of a couple of dozen activists and workers demanded minimum wage increases and the passage of immigration reform.

“We’re uniting the issues of workers and their right to living wages and the right of immigrants to be in this country in a way that they are treated with respect,” said Maria Elena Durazo from the L.A. County Federation of Labor.

She also announced the new route for the annual Workers’ Day march on May 1. It will begin at Cesar Chavez and Broadway, concluding at the Metropolitan Detention Center about one half-mile away.  [Read more…]

St. John’s health center in South LA to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour


Councilman Curren Price with St. John’s employees | Skylar E. Myers

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:


Photo Credit: Skylar E. Myers

[Read more…]