Hoping to reach a balance between workers pushing for higher pay and restaurant owners looking to keep their doors open, the California Restaurant Association (CRA) has stated that it supports a “targeted” approach to increasing the minimum wage at the city level.


While opposing a “blanket” minimum wage increase, the CRA, which represents more than 90,000 eating and drinking establishments in the state, has suggested that cities consider “mitigations” when establishing a minimum wage law.


The CRA recommends that a city minimum wage law include a “gradual wage increase with periodic triggers for review,” a “training or teen wage to ensure young, unskilled workers maintain access to entry-level positions,” and a “delayed phase-in period for small businesses,” among other mitigations.


With regard to increasing the minimum wage, cities should take a “strategic, targeted approach” that “balances the need for higher wages with protecting small businesses and the local economy,” Lauren Carpenter, spokesperson for the CRA, told the Business Journal.


“There has to be a middle ground,” she said. “A number of studies have affirmed that blanket minimum wage increases aren’t very affective in actually targeting wage increases for the workers who really need them.”


In addition, Carpenter said a “total compensation” model that would exempt tipped employees, a proposal recently challenged by state attorneys after being proposed in Sacramento, should still be part of discussions.


The California Legislative Counsel’s office opined in October that proposing a total compensation model, which would allow employers to count tips as part of their obligation to meet a city’s minimum wage law would be “preempted by state law” since tips are the “sole property” of employees.


CRA attorneys, however, have presented legal briefs in opposition to the state’s opinion.  Additionally, a court has yet to rule on such a proposal since no city has passed such a law.


Restaurant owners, including those in Long Beach, have stated that carving out tipped employees from a city mandated minimum wage law through the total compensation model would narrow the gap between the pay differential among staff and would also help restaurant owners from having to raise prices.


As for the City of Long Beach, which is considering a minimum wage proposal possibly in January, the CRA states that it supports a proposal with “mitigations” but also hopes that “we can have further discussions about total compensation as part of that package,” Carpenter said.