LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Following its approval of a minimum wage increase in unincorporated areas to $15 by 2020, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, July 21, to increase the “living wage” for contract workers on county jobs to $13.25 by 2016.
Additional raises approved as part of the board’s action put the living wage on pace to exceed the minimum wage.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended the increase, the first since 2007.
“It is imperative that we address income inequality in Los Angeles County, not only by raising both the minimum wage and the living wage, but also by cracking down on wage theft,” Ridley-Thomas said. “It’s the just thing to do.”
The living wage is the minimum that county contractors — who perform cafeteria, janitorial, landscaping and other typically low-wage functions –must pay their employees.
Roughly 4,200 workers under more than 220 contracts will be affected. They currently receive an hourly wage of either $9.64 with health insurance or $11.84 without health benefits, for an annual take-home pay of $20,051 or $24,627, respectively, for a 40-hour work week.
The board’s vote does away with the two-tiered system and sets the living wage to increase to $13.25 by 2016, $14.25 by 2017, $15 by 2018 and $15.79 by 2019, with changes thereafter based on changes in the cost of living index.
The board’s vote was 3-2, with Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe dissenting. Knabe in particular objected to tying wage increases to the Consumer Price Index, saying it would limit the ability to manage through economic downturns.
Ridley-Thomas, who also co-authored a motion to seek tough sanctions against those who violate wage standards — unanimously approved by his colleagues — said enforcement was key.
“Wage theft is a crime that disproportionately affects people of color, immigrants and women,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We must protect the workers slated for wage increases by developing an innovative, collaborative and vigorous enforcement effort.”