In a groundbreaking victory for the movement for a $15 minimum wage, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 today to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020, with additional yearly increases tied to the cost of living beginning in 2022. Since the vote was not unanimous, a final vote must be taken on June 10, but city councilors and labor activists are confident the ordinance will pass. Los Angeles’ wage hike comes after successful grassroots campaigns in Seattle and San Francisco, but L.A. will be the largest U.S. city to enact a $15 minimum wage, and will pave the way for other major metros, such as New York City, to follow suit.
The hugely popular demand for $15/hour is taking off across the country. On April 15th, the biggest demonstrations for $15 in the movement to date brought thousands into the streets nationwide. In Minneapolis, just two days after over 1,000 low-wage workers and supporters marched for $15/hour, the City Council voted to establish a workgroup to “develop a recommendation for a study of the effects of establishing a minimum wage regionally and locally.” The workgroup will also develop policy proposals to address workers’ rights issues including paid sick and safe time, fair scheduling, and curbing wage theft.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges does not support a $15 minimum wage locally, saying it’s best to raise wages on a regional level. But when the Los Angeles City Council took the lead, passing a preliminary vote for $15/hour last week, the California Senate voted on June 1 to raise wages across the state to $13/hour by 2017.
In a clear response to grassroots pressure, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay came out in support of a bill to raise his city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020 as well. It is expected to be filed at the city’s board of aldermen on June 5. If passed, St. Louis would become the first midwestern city to implement a $15 minimum wage.
The wide-reaching effects of local movements for a living wage and the key role unions have played in these successes are not to be underestimated, explained 15 Now MN Organizer Ginger Jentzen. “These victories prove that the strategy for local governments taking the first step works, and the ripple effect across the country from winning $15 in Seattle and San Francisco. These victories are raising workers’ confidence in organizing, seeing that it’s possible to win when they build pressure from below.”