Council tweaks minimum wage ordinance as employers grow nervous

City Council made small but significant changes to its minimum wage ordinance Monday night in a compromise with employers and business owners who said the policy was too much, too soon in an economy still reeling from the COVID pandemic.  

The original ordinance, first passed in November, raised the minimum wage to $17.64 per hour — the highest in the country. Hotel workers were the first to receive the raise, while employees in other industries will receive it in bi-yearly increments, depending on the size of their companies. All workers will have the same minimum wage rate by July 2023. The rate will be adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The policy also ensures 96 hours of paid time off per year for full-time employees, as well as 90 additional hours of uncompensated time off. 

“I’m glad we’re getting the businesses some clarification and at the same time we need to make sure we’re honoring the intent of the ordinance we passed unanimously,” said Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne, “We wanted to treat everyone the same.”

Based on feedback and requests from local businesses over the past months, city staff presented Council with several proposed changes to the ordinance, including a cap on the CPI increases, delaying the schedule of wages increases, the use of administrative fees to offset costs and clearer rules regarding paid time-off.

In a 4-1 vote, City Council approved Shyne’s motion to enact the following revisions and clarifications:

● The minimum wage adjustments based on the CPI would be capped at a minimum of 1% and a maximum of 4%.

● In determining whether a business is classified as a large or small employer, the city will use the average number of employees employed per quarter during the most recent calendar year.

● The new administrative regulations clarify that at least 50% of the compensated leave must be designated as either vacation or personal necessity leave, allowing workers to use this paid time off for things other than sick leave and ensures they will be paid for accrued leave that is not used before separation from employment.

● Employers can place a cap on compensated time off after an employee accrues 192 unused hours. 

Proposals to extend the roll-out of the ordinance were turned down, as were plans addressing administrative fees and a “total compensation” model that would have exempted “highly compensated” employees, namely those who rely on tips. City staff was also directed to keep working on waivers to the ordinance to make them more inclusive.

Councilmembers said they needed “to keep their promise to the workers” in denying requests by the business community for additional time to implement the ordinance, but Mayor Lauren Meister questioned the rationale. 

“I have not heard from one person who works at the Abbey, who works at Micky’s, who works at Rosaline, or any of these places,” said Meister, who voted no on the changes.

While hotel workers had been vocal about the ordinance, the city received little input from employees in other industries, few of whom attended the public round-table discussions to provide feedback on the timeline and other specifics.

“I supported raising the minimum wage but felt that the other provisions would take more time to implement,” Meister told WEHOville. “I thought it was fair to expect implementation in six months.  Now more businesses will be applying for a one-year waiver since my colleagues voted to open that up, which will put more work on staff.” 

The controversial ordinance had some in the community looking ahead to November’s City Council races as an opportunity to reverse course on a policy they found objectionable.

“We are all aware there’s an election here locally in November and perhaps there will be a push to make this an election issue,” said Councilmember Lindsey Horvath. “This Council has made very clear that we are interested in uplifting wages for workers in the city and supporting workers through this policy, so I don’t think that’s in dispute, and I think anybody who will run and be successful will carry some version of that message regardless of politics.”

Horvath will be on WeHo’s ballot in November unless she makes the runoff in her race for County Supervisor. Mayor Lauren Meister will be defending her seat, and the position being vacated by retiring Councilmember John D’Amico will be filled by one of several new candidates.

D’Amico expressed optimism about the future of the ordinance.

“If you are Target or Starbucks or a movie studio or a record company and you wanted to stop the city of West Hollywood from implementing this, it could have happened already, so I do believe that the vast majority of businesses are ready to do this,” D’Amico said.

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Brandon Garcia is editor of WEHOville. He oversees the website's editorial direction and creates original content such as news reports, photo and video features, digital art work and advertisements. In 2019, he left his home on the South Texas/Mexico border to build a new life on the West Hollywood/Hollywood border. He loves California and is a proud member of the LGBTQ community. @brandonontheborder on Instagram

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[…] by July, 2023. After hearing some “real world conditions” from employers and business owners, councilors amended the ordinance to cap CPI wage increases to 4% per year and allow employers to cap compensatory time at 192 hours. Small consolation, but a step in the […]

Steve Carry
Steve Carry
1 month ago

While it may be nice to be paid this exorbitant rate the simple fact is any minimum wage leads to inflation.

Edie
Edie
1 month ago

Most hotel employees are tipped, same as in restaurants. As a waitress I was making $35 an hour twenty years ago between tips and pay. Sadly people do not care to look at the costs of running a restaurant. This types of increases are going to put more and more businesses out of business. I already skip dining out because it’s gotten way too expensive.

Last edited 1 month ago by Edie
Steve Carry
Steve Carry
1 month ago
Reply to  Edie

Edie, you’ve got it. To cover the employee expenses requires the employer to raise the prices of their goods and services. It’s simple economics.

Chloe Ross
1 month ago

Stop right away using the term “New Normal” Try the word “REALITY” “Hint: Pay employees for the work they do. If they are not good at their job, replace them. Your profits arise from the employees’ dedication, performance and presence. Slavery (or whatever we are allowed to call it now) is REALLY over. Rents are very high. Gas is $$$, the most important employees in the most needed places are nickel and dimed. Costs are higher. COVID was not a conspiracy after the first microbe went into the air. It is a fact still. Grow up and face the realities… Read more »

Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
1 month ago

I love the smell of urban blight baking in the morning. Once the left tries to pretend that Patrick Lyoya did nothing wrong, I’m sure that businessowners will love paying higher minimum wage and not rebuilding their burned-out stores.

Rudi Logan
Rudi Logan
1 month ago

Comments like that are why you can’t be taken seriously. What’s Lyoya’s connection to West Hollywood and where in the city are all these burned-out stores?

Fini
Fini
1 month ago

John Erickson pitched about earning $100k a year from planned Parenthood but barely scraping by. Mentioning his student loans! Does this mean Dr. Erickson paid to go to college with a 269 IQ. Didn’t he qualify for a scholarship to major in gender studies and gay religious history!

Last edited 1 month ago by Fini
Chloe Ross
1 month ago
Reply to  Fini

Answers anyone?

WEHO Furry
WEHO Furry
1 month ago

Who would hire any of these WeHo political dregs in the private sector? Except if Ringling Bros. Circus was still touring with a freak show!

Chloe Ross
1 month ago
Reply to  WEHO Furry

Or The little Rascals wanted to have a show.

Joshua88
Joshua88
1 month ago

CPI cap seems useless.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago

How many of these city council members have ever owned or managed a business? What are their qualifications for making the decision for business owners for their largest expense in operating their business?

This is not a rhetorical question. I’d like an answer.

agree
agree
1 month ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

I agree. Lauren Meister exercises sound judgment and has business experience, but the others have no qualifications for making decisions on behalf of this community.

To make matters worse, Horvath/Erickson/Shyne are trying to force their extreme ideology on the rest of us. And D’Amico is just always on the wrong side of issues.

Hopefully we will be rid of Lindsey Horvath this year, and Erickson and Shyne will be in the voting minority until they go away.

Not good.
Not good.
1 month ago
Reply to  agree

We can’t be sure and must prepare for the worst. Horvath is hedging her bets with one foot towards the Sup. Race and the other in Weho. That may happen all the time but seems unethical.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
1 month ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

We all know the answer. These types of people……can only be found in government.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

True.

Chloe Ross
1 month ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

So would I.

Fini
Fini
1 month ago

The final SHE nail in West Hollywood’s coffin is when Shyne becomes mayor later this year.

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Fini

The original item was voted in, unanimously. These changes were also voted in by D’Amico. So why is only SHE to blame?

Larry Block
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

It’s called vote counting and giving cover to a colleague. Or, to avoid the appearance of a split divisive vote a council member will find ways to join the majority if they know they cannot change the outcome.

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Larry, that could be so, in this case. D’Amico and Meister should (and probably do) stand by what they believe in. So that could be the case, also.

Their motivation to do “vote counting” or “to cover a colleague” is entirely speculative.

Larry Block
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

Randy, you are doing the speculating. I learned what was stated from more than one council person. Im not projecting an opinion, im repeating what many a council person has told me when asked why they voted a certain way or changed their mind on a host of issues.

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Larry, thank you for the clarification. You did not indicate that you had spoken to anyone, when you said “vote counting,” or “covering for a colleague.” So I guess you are saying that that is what D’Amico did on Monday night.

Larry Block
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

depends what vote, not on the min wage. its politics. meister is a unique one who can articulate a reason for denying a vote with the majority, – its easier to join the chorus.

Not good.
Not good.
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

People should be connected to their own back bone and rise or fall with their votes/decisions. That is/was known as ethical behavior.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  Not good.

Yes!

critic
critic
1 month ago

Lauren Meister is the only Council member with any sense, and she is constantly outvoted.

Shyne has zero credibility. She’s the worst of the Horvath/Erickson/Shyne bozos.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  critic

I don’t know, Erickson is a very close second running neck and neck with Shyne. Lindsay used to sound reasonable but is off the rails as well. We gave change a chance during the last election and it has cost us dearly the only way to remedy that is to VOTE. THEM. OUT.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
1 month ago

Vote these idiots out. Do they really think minimum wage workers in WH…..live in WH??????

carleton cronin
carleton cronin
1 month ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Once upon a time they did live here. And then they didn’t, replaced by the forces of Nature (in Los Angeles anyhow), ownership of real estate, principally.

Joshua88
Joshua88
1 month ago

Some of the workers who commented in this series about the wage increase said they did live here.

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