Trying to feed an entire family, sometimes even yourself, can be hard if you're only earning minimum wage. But this huge American city just moved to ensure its residents a better life: Los Angeles voted for a $15 minimum wage hike by 2020 in a bold move that could encourage other state and city governments to do the same.
With a 14 to 1 vote, LA City Council agreed to gradually increase the minimum wage from its current $9, making it the largest city in the U.S. to require that employees get paid at least $15. The first increase will be to $10.50 in July 2016.
The move comes as the call for a minimum wage hike reverberates across the country, particularly under the Fight For $15 campaign that takes fast food chains to task for absurdly low wages, and pressures them to pay employees a minimum of $15 an hour.
Fight For $15 most recently launched the biggest protest by low wage workers — Residents in more than 200 cities across the nation walked out on jobs, or joined a nationwide protest in April as the wage strike evolved into something akin to a social justice movement.
So far, it's had a slow, but significant, impact. Companies like Facebook and Walmart have moved to increase their lowest wages, and some cities and states — San Francisco, Seattle, Alaska and Dakota, to name a few — have done the same. Chicago and New York City and New York State are also considering similar measures.
The increase will bring about many repercussions for a good number of the city's population. By some estimates, nearly 50 percent of its workforce earns under $15 per hour.
Albina Ardon, a 29-year-old mother of two, earns $9.05 an hour as a decade-long McDonalds employee, reports The Guardian. She currently relies on food stamps and Medi-Cal to get by, and has been an active member of the Fight for $15 in California. She said:
My life would be completely different if I were paid $15 an hour. I could afford groceries without needing food stamps, my family could stop sharing our apartment with renters for extra money, and I'd be able to provide my daughters with some security.
We're leading the country; we're not going to wait for Washington to lift Americans out of poverty. We have too many adults struggling to be living off a poverty wage. This will re-establish some of the equilibrium we've had in the past.
The federal minimum wage currently stands at $7.25, less than half of what LA plans its own to be.
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