The City of Los Angeles has just passed what many consider a landmark minimum wage bill for all wage earners working within city limits. This is a huge step for residents of the city, but it is not the first example of a city minimum wage law. Los Angeles has simply decided to follow in the footsteps of other major metropolitan areas around the county, upon the realization that a state minimum wage is not a living wage in their cities, and lowest income workers are not able to travel great distances each day to work for the state minimum wage.
However, these minimum wage hikes will not be of any help to workers who are employed outside of the city, including unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County. According to a recent news report for the Orange County Register, state lawmakers are now engaged in a major battle over whether or not to raise the statewide minimum wage to $13 per hour by the year 2017.
As our Orange County employment attorneys can explain, even though the proposed state minimum wage hike would still be lower than the eventual minimum wage rate for the City of Los Angeles, city workers will still be paid the higher amount. The reason for this is because a city, county, or other municipal government is allowed to have its own minimum wage, as long as its minimum wage rate is higher than the state minimum wage. In other words, a city government can create a minimum wage that is higher than the statewide rate but not one that is lower.
The new bill being considered by the state legislature aims to raise the statewide minimum wage from the current rate of $9 per hour to $11 per hour starting next year. Currently, the state minimum wage is set to increase automatically to $10 per hour next year. After this increase to $11 per hour, the state minimum wage would increase to $13 in July of 2017 under the new proposal. The reason for a staged increase, such as the one just passed in the City of Los Angeles, is to give employers time to adjust to a requirement to pay their minimum wage workers a considerably higher amount of money.
This amount of $13 per hour would represent the highest state minimum wage in the country, which would be a major accomplishment for the legislature and a major victory for low-wage employees, but many are fearful that it will not pass.
Last year, state legislatures attempted to pass a similar bill to increase the minimum wage, but it was defeated. However, those in support of raising the statewide minimum wage feel they have a fighting chance, because public opinion has somewhat shifted in the past year to provide greater support for helping the working poor.
Not only have we seen large other states and cities increase their own respective minimum wage laws, but large employers such as Wal-Mart have pledged to increase the wages of their workers on a voluntary basis. However, it should also be noted that, when the District of Columbia said it would raise its own minimum wage, Wal-Mart said it would no longer go through with its plans to build stores in the city. It seems they did not carry out this threat, as they have already opened 11 new stores in the District.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
$13 an hour by 2017? California joins minimum wage battle with new bill, June 4, 2015, OC Register
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