West Hollywood City Council approves increasing minimum wage to more than $17 by 2023

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The West Hollywood City Council on Wednesday approved a minimum wage hike that could soon be the highest minimum rate in the country.

The new rates, which affect all workers within the city limits, will gradually begin to take effect next year and will vary based on how many employees a business has. The full wage hike to $17.64 will not go into effect until 2023.

“When people have more money in their pocket, they’re able to take care of themselves and their families,” West Hollywood Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath said. “They’re able to spend more money, which is good news for our businesses and our local economy.”

The motion passed unanimously despite outcry from business owners in the city, warning the hike would be a “job killer” as many continue to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are supportive of being socially progressive, but this is an absolute business and job killer,” Lee Maen, owner of BOA Steakhouse in the city, said. “It’s simply too much and too fast.”

Another vocal critic of the wage hike is reality TV star and West Hollywood restaurant owner Lisa Vanderpump, who told council members tipped employees already earn higher wages than other workers, and that the increase could devastate the city.

“If we raise the minimum wage now, it’s going to be counterproductive. We’re going to see so many people that are going to find it unsustainable,” Vanderpump said. “So many people don’t even know this is going on.”

A union representative shot back, saying many businesses benefited from millions of dollars in federal PPP Loans, some of which were forgiven.

“Federal unemployment has expired, and the majority of people working in this country have been left without a safety net. People are sick and tired of working poverty, which has no place in our progressive city,” Danielle Wilson of Unite Here Local 11 said. “The least the City Council can do is put a couple more dollars in the pockets of our city’s most vulnerable workers.”

Currently, California’s minimum wage rate stands at $13 an hour for employers with 25 employees or fewer, and $14 an hour for employers with 26 or more employees. It will go up $1 for both categories in January of next year.

Most U.S. cities and counties that have adopted minimum wage rates higher than their state’s minimum are in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas of California, according to Pew Research Center.

Here’s the breakdown for the wage hike and how it will be implemented based on how many employees a business has:

For employers with 50 or more employees, the rate will rise to:
• $15.50/hr. on Jan. 1, 2022
• $16.50/hr. on July 1, 2022
• $17.50/hr. on Jan 1, 2023
• $17.64/hr. on July 1, 2023

It will also include 72 hours of compensated sick leave for employees, and 96 hours of compensated leave time for sickness, vacation, or personal necessity, and an additional 80 hours of uncompensated sick leave for all hotel workers.

For employers with fewer than 50 employees, the rate will rise to:
• $15/hr. on Jan. 1, 2022
• $16/hr. on July 1, 2022
• $17/hr. on Jan 1, 2023
• $17.64/hr. on July 1, 2023

This will also include 40 hours of compensated sick leave for employees, and 96 hours of compensated leave time for sickness, vacation, or personal necessity, and an additional 80 hours of uncompensated sick leave for all hotel workers.

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