Victory! After years of workers organizing, Los Angeles City Council passes $15 minimum wage with enforcement against wage theft

May 20, 2015
Pictured from left to right: 9to5 LA members Angela Aldridge, Cathy Deppe, and Donna Van Meter

9to5 Los Angeles celebrates the City Council’s approval yesterday of raising and enforcing wages.  As part of the LA Coaltion against Wage Theft since 2009, we joined forces this year with Raise the Wage LA to win an ordinance that raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour, with strong enforcement of tougher labor laws.  Our coalition’s purpose has been to protect, collect, and enforce in the effort to end illegal wage theft, and to lift up working women’s voices and concerns in this struggle.

We marched with 400 workers for that demand on Monday before the vote, with 9to5 leader Cathy Deppe serving as stage manager for the press conference.  Paying workers a living wage is crucial, but higher wages without strong enforcement is meaningless for the workers who lose $28 million per week in stolen wages –through wage and hour violations like unpaid overtime, working off the clock, paying employees as contractors, and requiring people to work through meal and rest breaks.

9to5 Los Angeles member Angela Aldridge, who joined Monday’s rally and witnessed this historic City Council vote on Tuesday, says, “My experience at City Hall as we awaited the passage of the Raise the Wage ordinance was indescribable. The hardest part to me was having to listen to the opposing side and not being able to respond! Although we got a victory yesterday, the fight is not over. I learned that is very difficult to get all you want to see accomplished in one setting — so with that said, we are pressing on.”

As Angela explains, 9to5 LA knows there’s more the City Council can do to ensure that this ordinance provides fair, living wages to Los Angeles workers. We celebrate while we roll up our sleeves – to increase the meager half a million now proposed for enforcement, and to win back the paid sick days measure that was carved out of the ordinance in the eleventh hour.  As Frederick Douglass said “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.”  Si, se peude.

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