Taking on the minimum-wage debate in L.A.

Taking on the minimum-wage debate in L.A.


minimum wage, taylor jones, cagle, May 8, 2014The national debate over minimum-wage increases will take center stage in Los Angeles because two efforts to raise the minimum wage face staunch opposition from the business community.

The Los Angeles Business Federation, known as BizFed, went on the offensive last week, coming out strongly against both minimum-wage proposals and the way the City Council is going about reviewing the consequences of a minimum-wage increase.

Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to see the minimum wage increased to $13.25 an hour; while advocates and some council members say that’s not enough, the minimum wage should go up to $15.25 per hour.

BizFed doesn’t think the discussion should be a competition on which higher minimum wage proposal takes effect, but whether there should be an increase at all at a time the state is raising the minimum wage — to $9 an hour in 2014 from $8; and to $10 in 2016.

BizFed made its argument against the minimum-wage increase as a way to deal with the tide of poverty that is washing over Los Angeles. Said MC Townsend, president and CEO of the Regional Black Chamber of Commerce of San Fernando Valley and chair of BizFed, “We share Mayor Garcetti’s strong commitment to reducing poverty, and that is best achieved by creating good paying middle class jobs that can actually lift individuals and families out of poverty.”

Jobs lost

BizFed leaders said minimum wage increases could cost jobs; something the city cannot afford.

While Los Angeles gained 1 million new residents over the last three decades, it lost about 165,000 jobs.

In an effort to convince the City Council to understand the effects of a minimum wage increase on the job market, BizFed has raised issues dealing with the proposals’ enforcement mechanisms, teenage workers looking for entry jobs, and that neighboring cities maintaining a lower minimum wage will draw jobs from L.A.

Convincing the mayor and council to stop a race to establish a higher and even higher minimum wage will not be an easy task. The Los Angeles City Council already approved a $15.37 minimum wage plan for hotel workers.

As I’ve written before, the council ignored a review to its hotel wage proposal – even when it asked for it:

When the Los Angeles City Council passed the minimum wage for hotel workers, economist Christopher Thornberg opined in the Los Angeles Times, after studying the matter for the council, that the results of his study ‘strongly suggest that such a steep increase in the minimum wage could result in a sharp decline in the number of jobs in the hotel industry.’

“More troubling was Thornberg’s assertion that the council didn’t bother to look at his findings. Thornberg wrote, ‘But the City Council never seemed interested in really examining the potential economic consequences of the ordinance. We got our instructions about what questions to address just two weeks before the vote, and we were surprised to learn that the council intended to vote on the day after we turned in our final analysis, which suggests none of the members spent time looking at our findings.’” 

There seem to be similar goings-on with the new debate over raising the minimum wage.

Questionable study

Mayor Garcetti used the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment to study and then speak up for his minimum-wage proposal. Now, city officials wants to hire the same group to study its proposal instead of reaching out for new, independent researchers.

Apparently, city bureaucrats and some council members are not interested in second opinions, especially ones they might not agree with, as was the case with the analysis of the hotel minimum-wage proposal.

The business community has objected to this arrangement. BizFed president Tracy Rafter said the organization was “calling for a truly independent analysis of these proposals that will give policymakers credible, unbiased information to make decisions moving forward. It’s absurd for the city of Los Angeles to spend taxpayer dollars contracting U.C. Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment to tell them what they’ve already told them previously, especially when that organization has been helping advocate for the mayor’s proposal.”

With a unified effort from the business community, perhaps this time the City Council will at least listen to business concerns.


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  1. Terry
    Terry 23 January, 2015, 11:45

    I understand that McDonalds is experimenting with a robot that can make burgers. So the higher the wages get the more advantage the robot has.

    So then what are all the unemployed workers going to do then? More welfare and food stamps.

    But alas the democrats do not really care about anything except more Govt control of everything.

    Reply this comment
  2. bob
    bob 23 January, 2015, 14:54

    How about everyone must be paid the same as a trough feeder and with the pension and other benefits, of course.

    Reply this comment
  3. Queeg
    Queeg 24 January, 2015, 00:58

    Your enemy are globalists who suck out money from locals and pay service workers slave wages.

    Troughies are few and far afield and do little damage.

    High tech imperialists are a big problem paying slave wages to foreign workers too poor to resist their plight.

    Reply this comment
  4. Greg Penglis
    Greg Penglis 24 January, 2015, 16:18

    We wil never win an argument over the minimum wage, so long as we use the term – minimum wage. That is because you can’t win hearts and minds, however logically you argue, when you argue for giving people less than the minimum. I have tried for years to come up with conservative answers to problems, but also by using conservative language to describe them. I never use the obsolete term, minimum wage. I instead use: “total revenue index.” This is a term I made up. It is derived by taking not only a low income wage, but every other subsidy, transfer, welfare, housing, and every other program available to the low income wage earner, and dividing it up into an hourly wage. That can be compared to prevailing wages within an industry, and now it is a fair comparison. Use total revenue index for all discussions of wages, and your thinking will change. Only then can you come up with reasonable arguments and solutions. It’s all in my article here: http://intellectualconservative.com/the-conservative-response-to-the-minimum-wage/

    Reply this comment
  5. eck
    eck 24 January, 2015, 18:13

    When I encounter people who say the minimum wage should be $15 or 20 or whatever, I always ask, why not $50, or better yet $100?! That should make everyone with a good wage, no? Well, after hemming and hawing, they say too much. But they never have an argument why, because they have no grasp of basic economics or business. I blame our schools and their “dumbed down” education.

    Reply this comment
  6. desmond
    desmond 25 January, 2015, 10:50

    Ted Queeg Ahaul, Support your comment that foreign tech workers are making tech wages. What is the slave wage, What company is it paid at? In the bay area, tech salaries are at the top of the scale. I know the food service workers are not paid much to give us free food throughout the day. That is not a tech worker, Ted.

    Reply this comment
  7. Queeg
    Queeg 25 January, 2015, 17:10

    No. Calif is a high cost area filled with desperate service workers being exploited by tech imperialists who make high wages on the backs of foreign tech trinket makers.

    Domestic and foreign workers get ripped off and are living in crowded substandard housing and eating big box store or company provided gruel.

    Insourcing foreign tech workers at cheap rates is taking jobs from Americans.

    Tech workers should be taxed heavily, accordingly.

    Reply this comment
  8. desmond
    desmond 25 January, 2015, 18:15

    Thank-you, Ted Queeg Ahaul for a well intended post.

    Reply this comment
  9. Dork
    Dork 26 January, 2015, 12:27

    While Los Angeles gained 1 million new residents over the last three decades, it lost about 165,000 jobs.

    And of course we will never look at the real problem, why are JOBS LEAVING??

    Reply this comment

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