Home | About | Donate

LA’s Minimum Wage Workers Just Won $15 an Hour—How Many Will Actually Be Paid That?


LA’s Minimum Wage Workers Just Won $15 an Hour—How Many Will Actually Be Paid That?

Michelle Chen

Nearly half of Los Angeles just gave itself a raise. Following a wave of state and local minimum-wage bills and initiatives, Los Angeles became one of the largest cities to dramatically raise its hourly base pay and join Seattle to hit the magic $15-an-hour demand pushed by labor and community groups nationwide.

The City Council approved 14-1 this week an unprecedented minimum-wage increase, phased in over five years, covering up to 800,000 people and adding an estimated $5.9 billion in new income.


I’m optimistic that raising the minimum wage will have a positive effect on both those to whom it applies and the local economies in which it is promulgated–even if the whole nation can garner the progress. However, I believe this only because the nation relies on the poor in other nations who have production capacities yet to be EXPLOITED. This global/local dichotomy vexes me often when I understand that the world’s resources are truly limited. Capitalism is getting way too big under neoliberalism and needs to be put in its place by more socialism for the MANY. Otherwise, the trend back to feudalism will continue.


Its likely that all these sudden mechanizations on minimum wage have nothing to do with US workers and everything to do with the services deal being negotiated in Geneva and the fact that if a service providing country has a minimum wage, the cross border service workers will likely be paid the higher wage, either their company’s home country’s minimum wage if it has one, or the host country’s minimum wage if it has one.

Or, there is a chance that once it got jurisdiction, (see discussion here on TISA>WTO relationship) the WTO could simply order something else. (As it did with El Salvador in the late 1990s) See the interesting discussion in here on this issue.

There is a WTO agreement which was signed in 1995-1998 which contains a “standstill”.

Recently raised minimum wages in the US may be framed as deliberate attempts to keep out firms which would be entitled to do the work by competitive advantage, cost.


In the line of the old proverb “You can lead a horse to water…”

The article mentions wage theft and wage oppression of the undocumented.
Ah, but what if the worker is so desperate or desirous of a job that they collude in the ‘wage theft’?

And, more than one person, even leftist persons, has asked “If a worker and employer agree on a wage, even a low wage, why should the government stick its nose in to object to the agreement?”


Those information based jobs that create 31 times less greenhouse gas emissions by weight but pay 5 times the remuneration are referred to in one of the links as good for the environment. Yet these are manufactured jobs in manufactured industries, such as service industries. The ‘need’ for their services is a manufactured need. They’re created for their own benefit.

One of the links given stated: “Careers in law, accounting and film production are both high-paying and good for the environment, but those jobs require a higher skill set, which most L.A. County residents don’t qualify for, according to the report.” The mathematical and technical ‘skill sets’ required by lawyers, accounts and film producers are hardly unique and can be acquired by most people as readily as learning cooking skills. Indeed, if those and other service sector jobs were the only jobs in any society, that would not be a functioning society. But it would be a group of consumers living off others.

The ugly outcome of class/hierarchical societies creates and nurtures the whole range of deep xenophobic perversions that also includes irrationality. The disregard for the environment, despite knowing the environmental reality. Such is the degree of obedience that hierarchies demand. Hope come from the historic fact that true reform originates from the bottom up, where the necessary ‘skill sets’ and the will have always existed.


Will this comment be blocked? lets see if the moderator has the courage to keep it.
Economics 101 teaches us that price floors cause surpluses.
Minimum wage increases are just another form of price floors and will cause labor surpluses, in other words, too many workers, not enough jobs in LA county. That will hurt many of those that this misguided law pretends to help. Employers will be faced with the option to A) fire employees/reduce the workforce B) raise prices or C) go out of business. Many will try to automate more (use computers and machines instead of workers). Option B is not viable because fewer people will purchase their high priced hamburgers or sub sandwiches or other products, so most likely employers will simply get by with fewer workers. Who will lose out here? not the rich, but the poor young minorities looking to start out in the workforce. If you really want to help people with low wages, instead of forcing companies to pay them more, make Los Angeles a more business friendly atmosphere so they can increase their sales and hire more people. Then try to offer education for those minimum wage workers so they can move up the ladder instead of trying to make a living without any labor skill. They are unskilled laborers and its not reasonable to expect to raise a family without any skills. Those jobs are best for teenagers just starting out. Not 40 year old men and women with 3 children. Thats just the way the world works.
Another effect of this law will be that some businesses will raise prices to try to pay for the higher expense of labor. Again hurting the very people this law pretends to help by making it more expensive to live here.