The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved a $15 minimum wage for hundreds of thousands of workers in the city who currently earn $9 per hour.
The wage will increase incrementally beginning in July 2016, eventually reaching $15 an hour by 2020 for employers with 26 or more workers, with a one-year delay for smaller businesses.
The council voted 14-1 in favor of raising the minimum wage, with Councilman Mitchell Englander—the panel’s only Republican and a candidate for the county Board of Supervisors—casting the dissenting vote. The City Attorney’s Office will draft a wage-hike ordinance that will have to return to the council for a final vote.
The council’s vote was met with loud cheers and applause from the audience in a packed council chamber.
Under the plan, the minimum wage will increase beginning July 2016, when it will rise to $10.50 an hour for businesses with 25 or more employees. By then, the state wage will rise to $10 per hour. The city minimum wage will then go up to $12 an hour by July 2017, $13.25 per hour by July 2018, $14.25 per hour by July 2019 and ultimately to $15 by July 2020.
Businesses with 25 or fewer employees will start raising their wages one year later and have until 2021 to reach the $15-an-hour mark. These smaller businesses make up about 89 percent of employers in the city, according to estimates cited by officials.
There are some exceptions to the wage hike plan approved by the council. Workers aged 14-17 would be paid 85 percent of the city minimum wage or the full state wage, whichever is higher, for 160 hours.
Nonprofits with more than 25 workers would also be eligible to apply for a waiver from the city minimum wage if the top executive earns less than five times of the lowest-paid worker, if the nonprofit provides transitional jobs, if it is a child care provider or is mostly funded by government grants or reimbursements.
The council also voted in favor of monitoring the effects of the wage increase, particularly on certain industries such as textile and apparel manufacturing; temps, guards and janitors; home health care services; residential care and nursing facilities; restaurants and others.