L.A.’s Wage Increase Ripples in the Bay
Last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12 to 3 to increase the minimum wage for hotel workers to $15.37 an hour; a move that may affect cities throughout the rest of California.
The City of Well Paid Angels
By July 2015, L.A. hotels with 300 rooms or more will be required to hike their minimum wage and in 2016, the law will expand to hotels with 150 rooms or more. The coalition behind the wage increase is comprised of a variety of labor unions, neighborhood councils and even the Southern California branch of the ACLU.
Proponents of the wage increase, mainly those from hospitality related industries, suspect that the wage increase will lead to the loss of nearly 1,500 jobs throughout L.A., although different analyses suspect the wage increase to benefit anywhere from 5,300 to 13,500 workers, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A study from the University of California, Berkeley’s Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics showed that those who would benefit most from the wage increase would be adults trying to make rent, workers of color and working poor families. The hope is that the wage hike would eliminate the need for members of many families, or single adults, to hold second jobs in order to make end’s meet.
The study also showed that the “proposed minimum wage law would have a modest impact on business operating costs and consumer prices,” including a 0.6% increase in operating costs for retailers, 4.7% for restaurants and 0.4% for manufacturers.
The recent wage increase is part of a larger proposal by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to increase L.A.’s overall minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017, a boost that would amount to an increase in $3,200 annually per worker. This is mirrored after other California cities, including in San Jose, where the increase to $10 an hour resulted in a local spending increase that boosted the economy $100 million, according to Capital & Main.
Ripples In the Bay
Other California cities have not been so lucky though, such as San Diego, where a campaign in July drove the city council to approve a $11.50 wage increase to cover all workers by 2017. The mayor vetoed it, then the council overrode him, and the back-and-fourth looks like it could potentially delay the pay raise for almost two years.
San Francisco and Oakland voters will decide minimum wage measures in November, where Proposition J in San Francisco could increase minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018 – a measure that would affect 142,000 workers. Those opposed to the increase argue that low-wage workers are needed in the city, to help manage the cost of living that offset by the influx of highly paid tech workers into the city.
As the average rent in San Francisco nears $3,200 a month, more residents are moving across the bay to Oakland, which in turn drives up rent there, now nearing $1,700 a month. Oakland’s proposed Measure FF could increase the minimum wage to $12.25 an hour, affecting almost 40,000 workers.
The measure also would require employers to offer at least five days of sick leave for all employees, and nine days for larger businesses. The measure also has provisions that allow workers in the hospitality industry to keep all of their wages and tips.
Although many Bay Area groups, such as the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and even the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce are officially neutral on the propositions, polls already show that the measures have well over 70% support. Those supporting the measures hope that the momentum from the Bay Area wage increases will set a precedent for other cities and states around the country to adopt similar laws.