WeHo City Council Votes in Favor of a Citywide Minimum Wage Increase to $17.64

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At a regular City Council Meeting on Wednesday, November 3, 2021, the West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to establish a citywide minimum wage increase of $17.64, including 96 hours of paid sick leave and other benefits. This measure aligns West Hollywood hotel workers with those in Santa Monica and Los Angeles who have earned $17.64 since July of this year. The wage will also increase for workers in all other industries.

The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce issued an action alert asking the business community to speak against the increase at last night’s City Council meeting. “The rapid timeline for such a significant increase in the midst of a pandemic will create serious ripple effects for West Hollywood businesses, employees, and consumers,” reads an email blast from the Chamber, “This ​sudden 35% (approximate) increase in wages which impacts West Hollywood, restaurants, and retailers, many of which operate on very small profit margins, will have to adjust for this increase. While we applaud championing the worker, this abrupt policy change has implications to hurt the very people they are trying to uplift resulting in reduced employee hours, job losses, eliminating gratuities, increased costs for consumers and ​forcing many businesses to close or move out of West Hollywood.”

A large number of speakers from the business community asked the city to slow the process down, to have further discussions and to collect more data. Speakers echoed the sentiment that the minimum wage increase would be bad for their businesses, and end up hurting workers who will potentially lose their jobs. There was also an assessment that businesses would move out of West Hollywood and into Beverly Hills or Los Angeles where the minimum wage is lower for non-hotel employees.

The council voted unanimously in favor that employers with 50 employees or more shall pay employees no less that the hourly wage of $15.50 per hour by January 1, 2022.

Employers with 50 employees or more shall pay employees no less than the hourly wage of $16.50 per hour on July 1, 2022 (paid sick leave, vacation, or personal necessity time set out in Section 5.130.030 does not go into effect for these employees until this date.)

On January 1, 2023, employers with 50 employees or more shall pay employees no less than the hourly wage of $17.50 per hour.

On July 1, 2023, small business employers shall pay employees the established minimum wage rate under subsection A.

Employers with less than 50 employees (small business) shall pay employees no less than the hourly wage of $15.00 per hour by January 1, 2022.

On July 1, 2023, small business employers shall pay employees the established minimum wage rate under subsection A.

On July 1, 2022, employers with less than 50 employees shall pay employees no less than the hourly rate of $15.00 per hour.

On July 1, 2022, employers with less that 50 employees shall pay employees no less than the hourly wage of $16.00 per hour (paid sick leave, vacation, or personal necessity time set out in Section 5.130.030 does not go into effect for these employees until this date.)

On January 1, 2023, small businesses shall pay no less than the hourly wage of $17.00 per hour.

On July 1, 2023, small business employers shall pay employees the established minimum wage rate under subsection A.

UNITE HERE Local 11, a labor union representing over 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona who work in hotels, restaurants, universities, stadiums, sport arenas, convention centers, and airports, lead the fight in West Hollywood’s approval of the highest minimum wage in the country.

“Our union is proud to have led the fight to pass a living wage in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and now West Hollywood. Workers across all industries, especially in hotels who have been hardest hit by the pandemic deserve a living wage, said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Tonight’s council vote is proof of the bold leadership and action needed to ensure workers recover from the effects of this pandemic.”

The citywide minimum wage increase is a culmination of an effort that UNITE HERE Local 11, Councilmember Horvath and then Councilmember Heilman started back in 2016 to raise the citywide minimum wage to $15, which failed on a 2-3 vote.

“Having a living wage will not only help me and my co-workers, but every single worker in the city of West Hollywood. I know that with the current wages, we cannot live in the city we’ve helped build,” said Norma Hernandez, a housekeeper at the Mondrian Hotel. “Thank you for passing this living wage and ensuring that workers like me can be a part of this city’s recovery.”

UNITE HERE states that this is the second time since July that the West Hollywood City Council has voted to stand with workers hit hardest by the pandemic. Following efforts by UNITE HERE Local 11 and after hearing from hotel workers across the city, the council approved one of the most progressive hotel worker protection laws in the country ensuring fair compensation for heavy workloads, right of recall, training, and panic buttons for all hotel workers.

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