City Council favors raising minimum wage for hotel workers

The vote tally -- three people dissenting. | LAANE Facebook

The vote tally — three people dissenting. | Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy/ Facebook

South L.A. residents working in the hotel industry might see their hourly wages rise by just over a half beginning next summer.

The Los Angeles City Council took a vote on the issue Wednesday, with 12 out of 15 council members agreeing to raise the minimum wage to $15.37 per hour for workers employed in the city’s largest hotels. The minimum wage is currently $9 per hour.

Council members Bernard Parks, Mitchell Englander and Paul Krekorian dissented. Because the city council did not reach a unanimous decision, it will revisit the issue next week for a final vote. The city council must reach a unanimous decision during next week’s vote for the higher minimum wage to take effect.

In all, about 13,000 will feel the effects of the wage hike if the ordinance passes: hotels with 300 rooms or more would be required to pay their workers $15.37 an hour beginning July 1, and hotels with at least 150 rooms would need to start paying the higher wage beginning July 1, 2016.

Councilman Curren Price, whose District 9 in South L.A. has the city’s largest poverty rate, introduced the original motion to raise hotel workers’ wages to City Council.

Price said in a statement that today’s favorable vote will “directly impact the quality of so many hardworking men and women across our city, and especially those in communities like the one I represent.”

In 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the leisure and hospitality industry had the highest percentage of workers earning hourly wages at or below the federal minimum wage, $7.25. Of hospitality workers, such as those employed at hotels, 19 percent of them earn wages at or below the federal minimum wage. (People making less than minimum wage are expected to make up the balance in tips.)

Parks, whose district is also in South L.A., voted against the increase, saying he preferred a citywide or regional approach. The longtime District 8 councilman said he feared that L.A. hotels would be competing with nearby businesses that did not have to raise their employees’ pay.

Yet supporters of the $15.37 hourly wage said the anticipated benefits outweigh the possible drawbacks because they will aid residents who are struggling financially.

“It is important to not govern from a place of fear,” Price said. “The extra dollars we put into the local economy today will be spent on Main Street — not Wall Street.”

Speak Your Mind