Los Angeles poised to be biggest city with $15 minimum wage

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles is set to take a final vote Wednesday on becoming the biggest U.S. city to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the federal requirement.

The City Council is extremely likely to make the move, which has the endorsement of Mayor Eric Garcetti and comes two weeks after a 14-1 preliminary vote on the wage. Approval would boost base pay to $15 by 2020.

Calls for raising the minimum wage at the national, state and local levels have built as the nation struggles with fallout from the recession, worsening income inequality, persistent poverty and the challenges of immigration and the global economy.

But even the backers of the plan acknowledge it’s an experiment, with only patchy data on whether it hurts or helps economies at the city level.

Seattle and San Francisco recently passed laws to reach a $15 minimum wage over several years, and Chicago passed one last year that plateaus at $13.

Earlier this week, the California Senate approved a plan to raise the statewide minimum wage again, lifting it to $13 an hour in 2017 and tying it to the rate of inflation after that.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he also wants to boost his city’s lowest hourly pay to $15.

In Los Angeles, some business leaders expressed concern about potential amendments to the wage increase proposal that have been suggested over the last several weeks. They include an exemption for companies with unionized workforces and a mandate that companies give workers as many as 12 paid days off a year.

“You start throwing in the exemption for unions, and the 12 days paid leave, and it starts to look like something else,” Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council, told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1ePxGMA ).

The council, a coalition of companies that has supported liberal causes, supported the initial proposal.

The City Council plans to research those provisions in the coming weeks before deciding if they should be added to the ordinance. The mayor has declined to say whether he supports either amendment.

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