Thursday, September 25, 2014

Will destroy jobs

L.A. City Council Backs Wage Hike For Hotel Employees

Photo:  Brian Weed, Flicker CC
By David Zahniser, Sept. 24, 2014,

Big hotels in Los Angeles will soon be required to pay at least $15.37 an hour to their workers — one of the highest minimum-wage requirements in the country.

The City Council voted 12 to 3 on Wednesday to impose the higher wage on large hotels, delivering a huge victory to a coalition that included organized labor, more than a dozen neighborhood councils and the ACLU of Southern California. Lawmakers cast their vote despite warnings from business advocates, who said the measure would trigger job losses at hotels stretching from Harbor Gateway to the San Fernando Valley.

Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, predicted that other cities would follow L.A.'s lead, much as they did after passage of the city's landmark 1997 "living wage" ordinance mandating higher pay for employees of many city contractors.
Because of the size and prominence of the hotel industry here in Los Angeles, I do believe that this will have national reverberations.- Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education

"Because of the size and prominence of the hotel industry here in Los Angeles, I do believe that this will have national reverberations," he said.

Wednesday's vote serves as a warmup for what is expected to be an intense debate over a more sweeping pay proposal from Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is seeking to gradually hike L.A.'s overall minimum wage to $13.25 per hour by 2017. Maria Elena Durazo, who heads the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and championed the hotel wage measure, said her group has no position yet on "the specifics" of Garcetti's plan.

"Our position is that we need to explicitly get to $15 an hour as soon as possible," she said.

Council members said their decision on the hotel proposal would pull families out of poverty, freeing housekeepers, banquet servers and others from having to hold a second job. "It is not OK for families … working in this thriving industry to not see their children before they go to bed," said Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who represents the central San Fernando Valley.

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