WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- On the day after the West Hollywood City Council approved an increase that sets the minimum wage within the city at $17.64 an hour, workers and business owners expressed their reaction to the new ordinance.
The landmark decision will give pay hikes to employees of restaurants and many other businesses after city leaders approved the highest minimum wage in the nation.
"It is an incredible day for city, for our workers, for our residents, for respect, for dignity, for equity and equality," Mayor Pro-Tem Sepi Shyne said at a Thursday news conference.
Under the plan, the hourly wage for hotel workers will increase to $17.64 cents on Jan. 1.
The hikes for small and large businesses will also start at the beginning of next year, but will be phased in with increases every six months, ultimately reaching $17.64 on July 1, 2023.
"This new wage is going to change my life forever," one hotel worker said at the news conference.
Conservatory, a restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard, is one of many businesses in West Hollywood still recovering from financial struggles caused by the pandemic. The restaurant's managers said the minimum wage hike will be another burden.
"I think the consumers are going to end up paying a little more because we're going to have to increase our pricing on that to even stay afloat," said general manager Tammy Billman.
Officials say 26% of the city's workforce is in the hospitality industry.
"None of the businesses are opposed to raising the wages," said Genevieve Morill, president of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. "What they want is time to recover from the pandemic. They want an increase that's sustainable, and right now what we've been handed is an unsustainable increase."
Said Billman: "Do the workers deserve more than that? Absolutely. I think it really comes down to: How are we going to be able to afford it as a small business?"