March 29, 2016
Contact: Genevieve Morrill
WEST HOLLYWOOD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE THANKS WEST HOLLYWOOD LEADERSHIP FOR THOUGHTFUL CONSIDERATION FOR MINIMUM WAGE AFFECTING SMALL BUSINESS
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA: Now that the State Legislature has passed, and the Governor will sign, a statewide Minimum Wage increase, the West Hollywood City Council’s vote last Monday night might seem like old news. But it’s still fresh news for West Hollywood businesses grateful to the City Council for listening to their concerns and giving serious consideration to a minimum wage program that is right for West Hollywood’s unique community. “The city took a bold stand for our community, recognizing that the composition of our business and resident communities is quite different,” stated West Hollywood Chamber Chair, Keith Kaplan. “They elected not to simply follow the models of Los Angeles and LA County, but asked for further investigation of the potential impacts of increases within West Hollywood.”
Governor Brown was doing the math back in January when he rejected the idea of an increase that was too much too fast, noting that if the public-sector care workers were paid a $15 minimum wage it would result in a $4-billion-a-year increase in the state budget. Seems familiar to what businesses have been saying for months now, only to be left out of the discussions with Labor and legislators with their concerns falling on deaf ears. The more gradual ramping up of wages and benefits in the new agreement is more aligned with Brown's larger budget philosophy. “California is proving once again that it can get things done and help people get ahead,” said Governor Brown. “This plan raises the minimum wage in a careful and responsible way and provides some flexibility if economic and budgetary conditions change.”
One of the most pressing arguments in West Hollywood’s City Council deliberations was that we are a city comprised of 26% hospitality businesses and an increase in the minimum wage would, by law, have to include the servers and bartenders already earning well more than minimum wage. These increases would actually put more money in the pockets of these highly paid employees while taking money away from the workers who this law was intending to help, the workers in threshold jobs that would likely face a cuts in hours or job losses as employers struggle to hold on to narrow profit margins. The State of California is one of only a few states that do not recognize tips as part of total earnings. “Essentially,” said Walter Schild, CEO of Culinary Lab, “you are rewarding the servers and bartenders with an $8,000 annual raise when they often earn $25-50 per hour already. Meanwhile, the equally hardworking cooks and dishwashers just had gratuities taken away from them and only earn $10-$17 now in our restaurants. We want to raise-the-wage for all workers to at least $15—and hope labor and legislators will work with restaurants to do this—but this is not possible unless tips are included in the calculation. In fact, 43 other states already figured this out and include tips in minimum wage calculations; why can’t California?”
The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce thanks our City leadership for recognizing the differing needs for and impact of minimum wage in our community. We are grateful for their more thoughtful approach towards seeking a solution that works best for West Hollywood. We urge them to consider working with the California Legislature to address several of the issues raised by the new CA state minimum wage proposal including tipped compensation in the statewide minimum wage – an issue which disproportionately impacts West Hollywood and will clearly demonstrate our progressive thinking.
Founded in 1921, the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)6, non-profit organization which supports and promotes a community environment where commerce can flourish. The Chamber fosters prosperity and champions local business by providing resources and leadership to advance activity through economic development. We advocate and represent business interests to government, while enhancing the quality of community life and promoting the uniqueness of West Hollywood.