Members of the Los Angeles City Council plan to introduce a proposal to raise the minimum wage for non-unionized city hotel workers to $15.37 an hour. The exemption for unionized hotels has raised questions about whether the goal is higher wages or more unionized hotels, but Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed, “If it gets passed by the council, I would definitely sign it.”
At the same time, activist and entrepreneur Ron Unz is championing a proposal that would increase the state minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2015 and to $12 an hour in 2016. While Unz may agree with supporters of the L.A. hotel proposal who argue that raising the minimum wage will lift people out of poverty, he’s actually seeking to raise the minimum wage in hopes of deterring illegal immigration.
“The overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants come for jobs and they take the jobs that Americans won’t. But the reason Americans won’t take them is that the wages are too low, and the only people willing to work at poverty wages are often recent, desperate border-crossers,” Unz recently wrote in the Mercury News. “If the minimum wage were $12 per hour, many Americans and legal immigrants would apply for those positions, reducing the pressure on businesses to hire the undocumented.”
Regardless of the differing motivations for increasing the minimum wage, the bottom line is both plans would be bad for California’s low-income workers and businesses.