LA Takes the Lead With Highest Minimum Wage Proposal

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Common Dreams

LA Takes the Lead With Highest Minimum Wage Proposal

As pressure mounts nationwide to raise minimum wage, LA could see historic victory

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Three city council members in Los Angeles are set to propose a $15.37 hourly wage for hotel workers, a raise they'd like to see extended to workers throughout the city. (Photo: BobboSphere/cc/flickr)

Los Angeles could soon be home to the highest minimum wage in the nation. 

An effort by local organizers that has now been taken up by several members of the city council is pushing for  a $15.37 hourly wage for hotel workers in the city.

Organizers with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy have led the campaign Raise LA, which has fought for a living wage for hotel workers, for over a year. With the help of other groups in the area, the movement gained support from local communities and backing from more than 700 businesses across the city, according to the Huffington Post.

Now, three city council members, Mike Bonin, Nury Martinez and Curren Price, are drafting the proposal, which has "a decent chance of passing, given that 14 of the 15 city council members are Democrats and generally friendly toward labor," The Huffington Post reports.

And, if they succeed, there could likely be a push to extend that raise to workers throughout Los Angeles.

"I'd like to see it through the city of LA," Councilman Bonin told The Huffington Post. "We know it will improve lives. We know it will bring folks into the middle class. We know it will bring more money into the local economy."

"We would absolutely like to extend this to other industries," Maria Elena Durazo, chief of the county Federation of Labor, told the LA Times. The Federation of Labor also launched a campaign this week to raise city-wide minimum wages to $15, unveiling billboards across the city styled after green "city limits" signs, which read: "Los Angeles, City Limited, Poverty Wage Pop. 810,864."

Currently in Los Angeles, 46 percent of working people earn what the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor considers poverty wages—less than $15 an hour, according to a new study by the group.

"This is an economic apartheid," said Durazo. "LA won't prosper and attract business if 46 percent of working people aren't prospering."

The movement comes on the heels of a national fight for living wages, including the "Fight for Fifteen" movement led by fast-food workers across the country and an increase in strikes and protests for better working conditions by workers at big box retail stores such as Walmart.

Following a recent victory in SeaTac, Washington, where airport workers won a fight for a $15 minimum wage in November, a group by the name of '15Now Campaign' is bringing that fight to the national level.

Starting in Seattle, the group plans to pass a city-wide wage increase, with the extended goal of pressuring municipalities across the nation to do the same.

"A $15 minimum wage in Seattle will set an example that working people and unions across the country would likely be inspired to follow," the campaign said in their official announcement.

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