The City of Santa Monica’s City Council voted on Tuesday night to approve a minimum wage ordinance that, if approved when it is presented for a second time in two weeks, would raise minimum wage for most businesses to $15 an hour by the year 2020.
The move would place Santa Monica on the same footing as Los Angeles, which also approved a $15 minimum wage hike last May. However, the Los Angeles Times points to one major difference between the two. Specifically, the Santa Monica measure exempts union employees covered by collective bargaining agreements. A similar exemption had been sought for Los Angeles in May, but was rejected.
“I guess we’re making history tonight,” Councilman Kevin McKeown reportedly said at Tuesday’s city hall meeting. “I hope that we will become the reference city for workers’ rights.”
Other changes the ordinance would make includes requiring paid leave for employees beyond the three days required at minimum by the state. The Times notes that employees at businesses with 26 or more employees would be able to accrue nine days of paid leave, while those at smaller businesses could accrue five.
This month, the minimum wage in California rose from $9 to $10.
One particular point of contention was a provision allowing employers to pay only 85 percent of the minimum wage for the first 480 hours or six months–whichever comes first–to first-time workers, notes the Times.
High school students were reportedly very vocal against the provision, as they would be most likely to be affected by it.
Small business owners in particular had expressed concerns over raising the minimum wage, suggesting it will force them into consolidating their work force and letting go some employees in order to afford additional hiring costs.
Partly in response, the industry has begun replacing human employees with automated machines, each one with the potential to replace up to three or more human beings. Companies like McDonald’s and Panera Bread are among those that have already started going down this road.