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Pasadena's Chamber of Commerce Says No Thanks to LA's Minimum Wage Increase

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The economics are very different.

Pasadena City Hall
Pasadena City Hall
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

It looks like not everyone’s on board with the proposed plan to hike Los Angeles’ minimum wage to $15 by the year 2020. Pasadena, for one, has just emphatically said ‘no thanks’ to the offer.

Of course, the city of Pasadena has never been under any actual obligation to say yes — the minimum wage increase is a citywide measure for Los Angeles only, so places like Pasadena (and other standalone cities within the greater Los Angeles area) are never explicitly mandated to opt in.

The no vote was officially conducted in an August meeting of the Board of Directors of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. Apparently the board, with input from a local study and lots of feedback from business owners, was united, opting without objection to oppose the measure that would have seen minimum wage increases ratchet up to $12 by 2017.

There’s good reason for Pasadena’s Chamber of Commerce, helping to oversee a much smaller city with a tiny-by-comparison workforce within its actual borders, to turn away the option to pay more for the same employees they already have. Their city-specific workforce employs well under 15,000 people — most who live in Pasadena don’t actually work in Pasadena, you see — and a majority of folks in the area (well, business owners at least) are already vehemently opposed for obvious reasons.

The decision to forego the minimum wage hike comes at a time of increased scrutiny already over how employees pay out their workers, what a living wage truly is, and how the foggy world of tipping falls in line with those models. Just yesterday, a class action lawsuit was brought to light against some of Los Angeles’ most prominent restaurateurs alleging price collusion over an implemented 3% service charge targeted to help all restaurant employees receive healthcare benefits.