In a vote that establishes one of the highest living wages in the country, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12–3 to establish a $15.37 minimum wage for hotel workers. The historic victory was the culmination of two years in a row of hard work by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), UNITE HERE Local 11 and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and organizers say it will lift up many working families living in difficult financial situations while the L.A. hotel and tourism industries are booming. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor said that this victory sets the stage for a broader minimum wage increase.
In our regular weekly feature, we'll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
When I think of the American Dream, I don't just see images of white picket fences and fathers kissing their children before they leave for work.
I see an African American mother of two dropping her children off at school and driving to her place of employment, with the confidence that she'll have enough gas to get to work and enough food to cook dinner. I imagine a Latina mother able to save enough money to help her son go to the college of his choice regardless of the rising cost of tuition. I see an America where working 40 hours a week allows women of all backgrounds the opportunity to gain prosperity and success. But how can anyone achieve such a dream on $7.25 an hour? They can't.
Momentum is building to raise the minimum wage. Several states already have taken action—Connecticut has boosted it to $10.10 by 2017, the Maryland legislature just approved a similar measure, Minnesota lawmakers just reached a deal to hike it to $9.50. A few cities have been more ambitious—Washington, D.C., and its surrounding counties raised it to $11.50, Seattle is considering $15.00.
Companies like Walmart often claim they can't afford to raise employee salaries because it would cause them to raise prices, which would hurt customers, decrease sales and then hurt the very employees whose salaries they raised, leading to layoffs and less hours. Ignoring the fact that they could easily absorb any such cost increases by slightly slimming down their billions of dollars of profits, the math just doesn't add up (watch the video after the jump).
The first of its kind in the Garden State, Hudson County, N.J., passed an ordinance that will index the county's living wage to inflation. The Freeholder Board unanimously approved the measure, as expected, which will make the current wage of $10.88 go up to $11.13 per hour when it goes into effect.