Culver City minimum wage is still on the table

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An Action Item to discuss setting a minimum wage for Culver City highlighted the differences between the City Council, as the progressive majority voted firmly in favor.

A presentation from staff at Monday evening’s City Council meeting stated that the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, while the State of California recently enacted legislation to increase the statewide minimum wage to $15. That may rise to $15.50 at the start of 2023 due to inflation.

“Individual cities, especially in areas with relatively higher costs of living, have adopted local ordinances that establish a minimum wage greater than what was established by the State Legislature,” staff said.

Los Angeles, for example, currently has a minimum wage of $16.04 per hour. In Santa Monica, it’s $15.96. In West Hollywood, it’s $16.50 for large businesses and $16 for small businesses, and in Long Beach it’s $16.73.

Back in May, the council voted to create a subcommittee to explore this, appointing Vice Mayor Albert Vera and Council Member Yasmine-Imani McMorrin (two opposing viewpoints).

The work of that subcommittee resulted in two options, and Council Member Göran Eriksson clarified that Option 1 is the preference of McMorrin while Option 2 is the preference of Vera.

Option 1 seeks to “advance the discussion of creating a minimum wage ordinance to address the immediate needs of minimum wage workers in the City; Conduct community stakeholder meetings to receive input on the development of the ordinance; and, based on information gathered from the stakeholder meetings, the Ad-Hoc Subcommittee, outside legal counsel, and the City’s Attorney’s office bring a draft ordinance to the City Council for approval within the next six months.”

Option 2 is more pragmatic and the preference of Vera. That seeks to, “Hire outside consultants to conduct an economic impact study on the local effects of increasing minimum wage in Culver City including its implications to the residents, Culver City workers, local businesses, and any other economic impacts of this Ordinance; Conduct community stakeholder meetings to receive input on the development of the ordinance; and bring a recommendation to the Council based on the information received from the economic impact study, the stakeholder meetings, the Ad-Hoc Subcommittee, outside legal counsel, and the City’s Attorney’s office.”

A four out of five vote was required to approve up to $150,000 from the budget to start work, and that was never going to happen with Vera and Eriksson firmly against a minimum wage. Eriksson said that it’s not necessary because the market takes care of it, with L.A. neighboring Culver City and creating a competition for labor. However, McMorrin was adamant and strong in her convictions that the council has the opportunity to help people. 

The vote was 3-2 in favor and debate will rage on.