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Fight for $15

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The Los Angeles City Council voting 14-1 to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is a very big deal. Doing this city by city or state by state is not ideal. But given the broken government at the federal level, it’s the best option we have now and could transform minimum wages around the state of California and beyond. A major victory for workers.

Personally, I look forward to the Fight for $20.

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  • DrDick

    Good news on the labor front for a change.

  • 23 states have smaller populations than the city of Los Angeles.

    • DAtt

      more people will get a raise under this bill than the entire population of Wyoming, or Vermont, or DC, or Alaska, or North Dakota.

      • And it will generate far more economic activity.

      • DrDick

        Do not forget Montana (a whopping 1 million!).

  • DAtt

    Great news! Next stop, New York! (First fast food workers, then hopefully everyone else post-2016)

  • Epsilon

    Every time this topic comes up in conversation there’s invariably someone who hems and haws about how “I only make $__ per hour and I do ____!” I wish I had something more constructive to tell them other than, “Stop being an asshole.”

    I usually mumble something about how increasing fast-food workers wages will invariably drive other wages upward as well, but I don’t really have any sort of economics-based evidence to point them to other than it sounds likely to me.

    • Honoré De Ballsack

      Every time this topic comes up in conversation there’s invariably someone who hems and haws about how “I only make $__ per hour and I do ____!” I wish I had something more constructive to tell them other than, “Stop being an asshole.”

      Your could try telling them, “Fast-food workers are organizing and getting paid more as a result. Why don’t you try that?”

    • Murc

      Every time this topic comes up in conversation there’s invariably someone who hems and haws about how “I only make $__ per hour and I do ____!” I wish I had something more constructive to tell them other than, “Stop being an asshole.”

      What’s wrong with “You don’t get paid enough. Want some help changing that? I’ll help! I know a bunch of other people who also want to help” as a response.

      • Honoré De Ballsack

        What’s wrong with “You don’t get paid enough. Want some help changing that? I’ll help! I know a bunch of other people who also want to help” as a response.

        That’s even better.

      • Epsilon

        Excellent. Thank you, that’s perfect. I knew I could count on the commentariat here.

    • Johnny Sack

      If I can make $15 whole buckaroos an hour dunking fries, well by golly I’ll just put down the scalpel, let my medical license lapse, and get a job at Mickey D’s!

      Because if you don’t need to work hard to earn a living wage, well, no one will ever be incentivized to better themselves and we’ll soon be a nation of aspiring minimum wage drones and society will collapse.

      • Epsilon

        Yeah, that’s usually my go-to when people whine about raising taxes on the rich. Which is especially ridiculous because it’s always about marginal tax rates. It’s incredible to me how even many moderates/non-partisans don’t understand that the higher tax rates only affect the portion of income ABOVE the threshold. I don’t know how many times I heard, “Well, they’re just going to cut back on their work so they stay under $500,000 or whatever!” It’s completely absurd.

  • Richard

    It is great news but two caveats. The increase is gradual – the $15 figure doesn’t come into effect until 2020.

    And unlike NYC, there is no one city in the urban Los Angeles area. There are dozens (Santa Monica, Culver City, Bell, Commerce, City of Industry, Alhambra, Pasadena, South Pasadena, etc). The minimum wage is not being raised in those cities. I hope the LA decision causes those cities to raise their minimum wages as well but that is unlikely for many of them. There is the possiblity that the McDonalds of the world will move their franchises outside Los Angeles City proper in order to evade the minimum wage rule. (That, of course, could be stopped if the State of California passes a similar minimum wage law which is where the battle is likely to now shift)

    • JustRuss

      It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I could envision low-paying businesses moving out, and high-paying businesses moving in to take advantage of all this suddenly vacated and lower priced (thanks supply and demand) real estate, and then some of the lower-paying businesses moving back–at higher wages–to service all those high-paying businesses–and their well-paid employees.

      So LA ends up winning because it by raising its minimum wage first it grabbed the high-paying businesses, while it’s neighbors find themselves becoming the low-rent district. Suddenly, cities are in a race to raise wages to avoid becoming the ghetto that all the crappy jobs migrate to. Sort of the opposite of the tax-breaks-and-subsidies-race-to-the-bottom scenario we’ve been living in.

    • Johnny Sack

      I’m not at all knowledgeable about economics. But accounting for (estimated) inflation, what is $15 going to be worth in 2020? Certainly more than what they’re making now, but I wonder how much less buying power will it give you in five years? And if this minimum wage is not indexed to inflation, why not?

      • Brett

        Assuming the current low rate of inflation (between 1-2%)? It would be worth somewhere between $13.50 and $14.25/hr.

        It’d be smarter just to index it to CPI, or some other inflation measure. Then you wouldn’t need to have fights every ten years to get it raised to make up for lost ground.

        • Jordan

          Yeah, when NJ passed our minimum wage increase ballot measure a few years ago it wasn’t for nearly as much at the top level, but it *did* annually index it to inflation, which is good.

          /ETA: and, of course, this law does in fact do this too.

          • Johnny Sack

            Workers in NJ might end up coming out ahead in a decade or so compared to laws that aren’t indexed to inflation, since without it you’re basically bailing water out of your boat with a sieve.

            Most depressing thing I’ve ever read is that minimum wage would be $21 today if LBJ’s minimum wage bills were indexed to inflation.

            I didn’t know you lived in Jersey? Whereabouts?

    • Trust me, the fast-food outlets in my sector of L.A. are not going to move the four or five miles (minimum) to another municipality.

      Not up on the composition of all the local city councils, but I would expect the Peoples Republics of Santa Monica & West Hollywood to enact something similar.

      And not everyone who works for minimum-wage or barely above is a fast-food worker. After being laid off from a real job in 1995, I worked at Borders Books & then Kinkos/FedExOffice from 1998-2006 & never made as much as U.S.$9.00/hr (the current minimum).

      L.A. Times has details:

      Beginning in 2022, yearly wage increases would be pegged to the consumer price index – a key provision of the law that backers say addresses past failures to adjust base pay for inflation.

      and

      the first wage boost – to $10.50 per hour – taking effect in July 2016.

      • Richard

        I dont think fast food outlets will move but given a choice of opening a new facility in LA proper or an adjoining city that has a lower minimum wage, they may very well open in the less labor friendly city. I agree that West Hollywood and Santa Monica are likely to follow LA but I dont at all think that will be the situation everywhere. I live in South Pasadena, a few blocks from the LA city border and only a short while from Alhambra. South Pas might enact a similar law, Alhambra will not

        • Good friend from college was from Alhambra; 40+ yrs. ago when I moved to L.A. I used to hang out there w/ him & his high school buddies.

          It’s a changed a bit since then.

      • Brett

        I doubt the food places will move much, although the non-chains might go out of business in higher numbers if people don’t come back to them when they raise prices.

        The bigger issue would be grocery stores and merchandise stores – those inside the boundaries are going to be a wage disadvantage unless California raises the statewide minimum upwards (a distinct possibility). People already drive outside of city lines to go to Walmarts and other mega-stores on county land, so it’s not a stretch to imagine they might drive outwards if the grocery stores nearby have noticeably higher prices across the board.

  • Bruce Vail

    This will also have a knock-on effect for unionized grocery workers.

    The entry-level jobs tend to start at slightly above min wage, with a scale upwards based on skills and seniority. Do this rises the floor for everybody on the scale.

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