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Los Angeles Federation of Labor pushes for $15 minimum wage

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Wage disparity continues to increase and a labor group in California wants to narrow the gap, according to a Los Angeles Times article published on January 15, 2014.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor is pushing for an increase in the minimum wage- an increase that, if enacted, would be the highest in the nation. The organization is proposing $15 per hour and claims that such an increase would not only pull more than 800,000 workers out of poverty, it would also serve to stimulate an otherwise lethargic economy.

Backing up the proposal is an official study from the Economic Roundtable, a progressive outfit known for its liberal- leaning philosophy. According to the study, 46% of Los Angeles wage and salaried employees presently earn less than $15 per hour. An increase to $15 per hour would, based on the study, pump billions of dollars into the local economy, something the study claims is more likely to happen when lower wage earners receive greater pay. This would lead not only to greater prosperity for those near the bottom of the wage- earning ladder, it would also lead to more jobs and a stronger economy overall.

As part of its campaign for higher pay, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor launched an advertising campaign featuring billboards that illustrate the low wage problem. The billboards, styled after the familiar green- colored “city limits” signs, state: “Los Angeles, City Limited, Poverty Wage population 810,864. There are presently 7 of these billboards on display and they are attracting the attention of city leaders and others.

Opponents of the wage increase say it will lead to higher prices and layoffs, but the Economic Roundtable proposes a different approach. They would like to see wages re- distributed, with some pay taken away from higher- wage earners and given to those who earn less. This, they argue, would keep prices at or near current levels.

California’s state minimum wage is presently set at $8 per hour and is scheduled to increase to $9 per hour in July, 2014 and then to $10 per hour in July 2016. Opponents of the Los Angeles $15 minimum wage point to the minimum wage increases already planned and advise a more cautious approach. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, however, will continue to push for an increase to $15 and hopes to get its proposal in front of city lawmakers very soon.

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