Los Angeles City Living Wage Ordinance (1997)

In 1997, Los Angeles became one of the first major cities to adopt a living wage law. Only a handful of cities, including Baltimore, had previously enacted living wage laws. Passage of the L.A. ordinance came after a fierce public battle that attracted national attention.
Advocates argued that the city was subsidizing poverty and compromising the quality of city services by contracting out jobs to low-wage employers. Opponents claimed that the living wage was an ill-conceived policy that would lead to massive job loss and business flight.

In March 1997, the City Council enacted a living wage ordinance, which was quickly vetoed by then-Mayor Richard Riordan. The Council voted to override Riordan’s veto, and the living wage became law in May of that year. In 1999, it was amended to cover city facilities such as Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and in 2009 it was amended once again to increase the health care allotment for LAX workers covered by the law.

The Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance is broad in scope, expanding on the model used by cities that enacted the first wave of living wage policies in the mid-1990s. It applies not only to city contractors, but also to lessees such as airlines, concessionaires that operate on city land. The law covers thousands of low-wage workers at LAX, including janitors, airline service workers, retail clerks and food service workers. It also covers several thousand workers at other locations around the city.

To view the pdf of this policy, click here.