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Wage Watch: Los Angeles joins the push for $15 minimum wage

Downtown Los AngelesDavid Liu—Getty Images
Los Angeles is the latest Seattle wannabe
Seattle hasn’t been this big of a trendsetter since grunge. Ever since it passed a $15 an hour minimum wage in early June, other cities, like Chicago and San Francisco, have been trying to follow its lead.
A coalition of activists submitted a proposal for a ballot initiative that would require that all workers in L.A. who clock at least two hours a week with an employer are paid a minimum of $15 an hour—even those who receive tips. It also seeks to tie future increases to the metropolitan area’s consumer price index. If the campaign garners enough signatures, the proposal could go before voters as early as next spring.

The initiative joins others attempting to raise wages for specific L.A. workers. The L.A. United School District, for instance, just decided to pay service workers at least $15 an hour, and the city council is considering an ordinance to pay L.A. hotel workers $15.37 an hour. California’s statewide minimum wage increased to $9 earlier this month; it’s set to hit $10 by 2016.

In battle over NYC airport wage, United stands down

Twelve-thousand minimum wage workers at three New York City airports are set to get a raise after United Airlines (UAL) this week backed off from its plans to challenge a wage hike instituted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty International airports.

Earlier this year, the Port Authority adopted a policy that calls for airport workers, like baggage handlers and cabin cleaners, who earn less than $9 to receive a $1 raise by July 31; a $10.10 minimum wage is planned for February.

United, the dominant carrier at Newark Airport, had hinted that it would oppose the hike by questioning whether the bi-state agency had the legal power to impose a wage increase. But this week it filed a formal comment on the wage increase rule, acknowledging that so long as the Port Authority’s policy was issued validly, its vendors would be obligated to comply with it.

Not all professional athletes are bringing home the big bucks

In a class action suit filed in February that has expanded twice ahead of a September hearing, minor league baseball players from all 30 professional teams have sued Major League Baseball, claiming that the league doesn’t pay them minimum wage since a player in the minors earns a maximum starting salary of $5,500 for what ends up being a year-round job.

Major league players, by comparison, earn at least $84,000 a month.

The case will test whether the Fair Labor Standards Act covers baseball, which—in some experts’ view—blurs the line between employment and personal advancement. A 1922 ruling from the United States Supreme Court that deemed baseball amusement rather than commerce makes the matter even more complicated.

The MLB has disputed all charges in court filings.