LA County Seal

By Abby Sewell, Jean Merl and Katie Shepherd
July 21, 2015

Organized labor won an important victory Tuesday when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to increase the minimum wage to $15, but it now faces a more daunting political challenge: convincing other local governments to join the movement.

The widely anticipated move by the nation’s largest local government applies to unincorporated areas and hundreds of thousands of employees, mirroring a similar action by the city of Los Angeles. Within a few years, more than half of the countywide workforce will be guaranteed a base income more than 60% higher than the current state-mandated $9 an hour.

Santa Monica and West Hollywood are considering their own wage hikes. But many other local cities — including economic powerhouses Glendale, Pasadena, Santa Clarita, Torrance and Long Beach — have yet to decide whether to boost wages.

Some economists, business owners and public officials warn that a patchwork of local pay policies could set off economically disruptive competition for workers and job-producing employers.

Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford said his city was still recovering from the recession and couldn’t afford a wage hike. He said some businesses in nearby unincorporated communities had voiced concern about the county’s wage boost and inquired about having their areas annexed by the city to avoid increased labor costs.

“I think it will put those businesses at a distinct disadvantage and people will now shop” in Palmdale, he said.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, whose district includes the desert city, argued a similar point during Tuesday’s debate on the wage proposal.

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