City Councilman Mitchell Englander was the lone no vote against raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles to $15 an hour. It would be over the top to suggest his stand was akin to Gary Cooper in High Noon — one man standing against the threat to the town – but suffice it to say it was important for someone to stand up and point out the concerns raised by the business community and others. The minimum wage issue is not as clear-cut as the lopsided vote in the L.A, City Council would indicate. Important issues surrounding the implementation of the minimum wage must be raised.

Englander explained his reasoning in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece last Monday.

Some excerpts:

“This wage increase may hurt the very people it is designed to help. Most minimum wage jobs are in low profit-margin industries or small businesses that are easily relocated to one of more than two dozen cities bordering Los Angeles. Many of these cities have minimum wages substantially lower than $15 an hour. This competitive disadvantage doesn’t support local job creation or retention.”

“Representatives of both the business and nonprofit/charitable communities testified that they will be forced to reduce hours or staff size to comply with the new policy.”

“Minimum-wage increases by themselves do nothing to expand the middle class. In order to do this we need to create an educated workforce, bringing back trade training and shop classes to our high schools and encouraging a clear and affordable pathway from two-year colleges to four-year universities and beyond.”

“I voted no on the increase because cost-benefit analyses show that the disproportionate burden to business is not balanced by a guaranteed benefit to the impoverished, or to the local economy.”

Englander’s reasoning obviously did not sway other members of the council. But while the city can create laws to control business – one law they are discussing is to require a minimum wage for workers whose home base is outside of Los Angeles but their work brings them into the city for at least two hours – city council members cannot repeal the laws of economics. They will be consequences to the council’s actions.

The minimum wage increase is not the only mandate faced by many businesses in California. Required minimum wages, mandated time off, fees, and taxes add to business costs making it tougher and more complicated to do business in California.

Englander was right to make his lonely stand so that these issues can be aired and remembered.