While the three economists disagreed about the likely impact of these increases on the LA economy, they did share the viewpoint that any proposals should have mechanisms embedded in them that would review the impact on the local economy before subsequent increases are implemented. This is an argument against indexing the wage to the Consumer Price Index, which essentially puts wage increases on auto-pilot and ignores other measurements of the underlying economy's strength.
After three hours of discussion amongst the economists and the members of the committee, public testimony was taken with 20 minutes given to the supportive and opposed sides. The proponents focused primarily on the idea of a $15 minimum wage, creating a local enforcement mechanism, and adding additional paid sick leave mandates.
The restaurant community was certainly the largest business segment present and focused comments on the need to establish a total compensation model for tipped servers, a teen wage, and slower implementation of any increase. Councilmembers Blumenfield, O’Farrell, and Fuentes wrote a letter to the committee expressing support for these concepts as well. Councilmember Krekorian, who sits on the Economic Development committee, also shares these concerns.
The third hearing took place in Van Nuys and was much more substantive in terms of the opportunity for the public to comment on the proposals.
This hearing in Van Nuys was an amazing showing from the restaurant community. More than 100 speakers were signed up to speak to the committee members and at least half were from the restaurant community, urging the committee members to be targeted and smart about any minimum wage increase. Labor unions have been effective in packing the previous hearings so as to block out some interested parties who wanted to speak to the committee. Not the case in Van Nuys.
Much more than the hearing at City Hall a week ago, the Van Nuys hearing had tremendous focus on the need to establish a model that considers a tipped server’s total compensation in minimum wage calculations - something that four of the Council members are in support of.
Advocates for the $15 wage showed up to the hearing with very different messaging. This time, they focused almost entirely on attacking a total compensation model, teen wages, and other measures to mitigate implementation. While the need to raise wages stays a focus of the proponents, in moments of desperation, they began to recklessly claim tips should be outlawed because they fuel racism, sexism, and sexual harassment.
Much of the rhetoric attacking the total compensation notion was based on a lack of understanding - or a lack of interest to understand - the concept and instead revert back to labor community objections to federal tipped wage rules, claiming sub-minimum wage, and "wage theft." These were highly charged remarks used to describe the enforcement piece of these proposals.
The additional area that received a great deal of focus was with regard to youth unemployment and the correlation between “super minimum wages” and youth unemployment. This too has support from some of the councilmembers.
We thank the local restaurant community for joining us at these hearings and our message is certainly being heard by councilmembers.