Los Angeles Approves Highest Minimum Wage in the Country

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LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles City Council voted to approve a Living Wage Ordinance for Hotel Workers Wednesday that will phase-in a wage of $15.37 at large hotels in Los Angeles over the next two years. City Councilmembers Curren D. Price Jr., Nury Martinez and Mike Bonin co-introduced a motion earlier this year launching an effort to set a living wage at hotels in Los Angeles. Despite the economic recession, the hotel industry in Los Angeles has maintained record high occupancy rates and revenues per room available, while reports have shown that more than 40 percent of workers in this industry earn wages that put them below the federal poverty line.  

“Today, Los Angeles affirms its position as a progressive leader for the nation, approving a policy that will directly impact the quality of life of so many hardworking men and women across our city and, especially those in communities like the one I represent,” said Councilmember Curren Price, representing a large swath of South Los Angeles.. “While we heard concerns from some, it is important to not govern from a place of fear, understanding that the extra dollars we put into the local economy today will be spent on Main Street – not Wall Street.”

 

"Workers in the largest low-wage industry in the City are going to get a needed and deserved raise, and that is a great thing for all of Los Angeles," said Councilmember Mike Bonin. "Today's council action will help thousands of hard-working Angelenos support their families. This was just the beginning, however, and I am eager and excited to continue working to address poverty in LA by now moving our focus to a citywide minimum wage."

 

“Over the past seven months of discussions, meetings, reports and amendments, one fact remains clear: large hotels are continuing to profit and thrive due to the hard work of Los Angeles’ residents and our City’s investment in our tourism infrastructure,” said Councilmember Nury Martinez. “Unfortunately for communities like mine in the valley, the tourism economy does not reach all residents. This ordinance will change that. By increasing the wages of the housekeepers, dishwashers and valets that live throughout the city, this ordinance will spread the economic benefits of LA Live, the beach and major tourist attractions throughout the City.”

 Approving the item 12-3, the City Council moves forward the ordinance which will take effect on July 1, 2015 for hotels with 300 or more rooms. Hearing feedback from small hotel owners, the ordinance will be phased in by July 1, 2016 for hotels with 150 or more rooms. Additionally, a report will also study potential exemptions for adaptive re-use and historic hotels and allows for exemptions for hotels facing financial hardship. In 2007, the Los Angeles City Council passed a living wage ordinance for workers employed in hotels near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and in 2009 it expanded that effort to include higher wages for airport employees. The living wage for airport employees has resulted in higher pay and benefits for low-income families, and the hotels around LAX have continued to thrive. The City of Los Angeles has also made significant financial investments to ensure the success of the local hotel industry which include, maintaining free public tourist destinations, upgrading the Convention Center, helping to build a more efficient public transportation system and providing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives to hotel developers. 

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