Los Angeles approves $15 minimum wage

City Council gives final approval to ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday gave final approval to an ordinance raising the minimum wage in America's second-largest city to $15 an hour by 2020 from the current $9.

The measure, which still must be signed into law by Mayor Eric Garcetti, would require businesses with more than 25 employees to gradually increase wages to meet a $15 hourly pay level by the deadline, while smaller businesses would have an extra year to comply with each step.

Garcetti, a Democrat, has said that he would sign the wage hike into law, seen as a victory for labor and community groups that have successfully pushed for similar pay hikes in other major U.S. cities, including Seattle and San Francisco.

"Today is a great day for Los Angeles and all the people who work hard to make our city a vibrant place to live and work," Rusty Hicks of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor said in a written statement issued after the vote.

"After months of public debate and study, the City Council's vote puts us one step away from changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of hardworking Angelenos," he said. "Though there is still work to be done, all of us in Los Angeles will see the fruits of raising the wage in L.A.”

Opponents of minimum wage hikes say they place an undue burden on businesses and will force employers to lay off workers or move.

With the federal minimum wage stagnant at $7.25 an hour since 2009, supporters of raising pay for the lowest paid workers have expressed little hope for an increase from the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.

In a statement issued by the national “Fight for $15” campaign, Los Angeles resident Francisco Zuniga Lazo, a father of two who works a minimum wage job at Domino’s Pizza, praised the move.

“We did it," Lazo said. "We’ve been marching and striking and protesting for more than two years calling for $15 an hour, and tonight I can go to sleep knowing for the first time in a long time that the future looks brighter for my family—and for so many hardworking families like mine around this city.”

Al Jazeera and Reuters

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