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Minimum Wage Raised for City Employees

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

May 16, 2014 -- The City of Santa Monica’s lowest-paid employees will get a raise this summer. The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to increase the City’s minimum wage from $14.08 per hour to $15.37 per hour, effective July 1.

Also benefitting from the wage raise will be employees earning the minimum pay from private, for-profit businesses under contract with the City for more than $54,000.

The idea for the pay increase came from Mayor Pam O’Connor and Mayor Pro Tem Terry O’Day, who proposed the concept at a City Council meeting in January. O’Connor said she was inspired to do this because the council approved two hotels for OTO Development in November after it agreed to union demands that workers be paid at least $15.37 per hour.

“Frankly, I think it would be hypocritical [if the City didn’t increase the minimum wage for its employees],” O’Connor told The Lookout earlier this year.

The pay increase is the largest since the council adopted the Living Wage Ordinance in 2005. With the ordinance’s passage, the minimum wage was set at $11.50 per hour. It has since increased every year to keep pace with inflation.
City Manager Rod Gould said earlier this year that the City would be able to manage the pay increase without a negative impact.

“The overall financial effect is significant, but manageable given our mid-year forecast showing revenues running ahead of projections and expenditures well within budget,” he said.

Gould added, “It will only affect two or three City wage classifications as the rest are paid a higher wage.”

No council member commented on the proposal before voting for it. The lone public comment came from Jerry Rubin, local peace activist and candidate for the November council election. He said the pay hike was a good idea.

“Things cost much more than in past years … any service or commodity has doubled, tripled or done more than that,” Rubin said. “But the wages of the employees have not [increased].”

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