The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to approve a $15 an hour minimum wage, becoming the largest U.S. city to adopt a living wage.
The ordinance would boost the $9 an hour base wage to $15 by 2020 for as many as 800,000 workers. Los Angeles now joins Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle, which have already adopted similar laws.
Advocates were quick to praise the 14-1 vote, calling it a "huge" boost for the country's growing workers' rights movement.
Albina Ardon, a McDonald’s employee from Los Angeles and a member of the minimum wage advocacy group Fight for $15 LA, said that the win illustrates the power of grassroots organizing and paves the way for other cities to pass living wage laws.
"People used to think we had no chance, but we are steadily winning the fight by demanding $15 an hour to lift our families out of poverty," Ardon said. "If we can win $15 in one of America’s most populous cities we know it will give momentum to workers around the country who are fighting for the same thing."
"People like me, who work hard for multibillion-dollar corporations like McDonald’s, should not have to rely on food stamps to survive," she continued. Ardon, a mother of two and ten year employee of McDonald's, currently makes $9.95 an hour. The vote comes amid a growing push by workers and anti-poverty advocates for U.S. cities to protect workers amid a growing wealth gap.
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The federally mandated minimum wage has stagnated at $7.25 since June 2009.
Los Angeles council members are also considering a motion to require paid sick leave, a provision that was initially inserted in the minimum wage legislation but removed over the objection of local business leaders. On Tuesday, the lawmakers agreed to consider that policy separately.
The wage increase will now be submitted to the city attorney’s office, which will draft an ordinance that will return to council members later this year for approval, the Los Angeles Times reports. Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to sign the wage boost into law. The wage will initially be set at $10.50 an hour as of July 2016.
See unfolding reactions on Twitter under the hashtags #raisethewage or #RaiseadEnforce15.