L.A. City Council members propose $30-an-hour wage by 2028 for hotel and LAX workers

Two women and a man smile onstage in front of supporters holding signs
LAX worker Jovan Houston, left, L.A. City Councilmember Curren Price and L.A. County Federation of Labor President Yvonne Wheeler at a news conference where Price announced a motion to raise the minimum wage for some airport and hotel workers to $30 an hour.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

The minimum wages of workers at larger hotels and Los Angeles International Airport would rise to $30 an hour by 2028 under a proposal put forth Wednesday by several L.A. City Council members.

Councilmembers Curren Price and Katy Yaroslavsky introduced a motion for a law that would boost the pay of workers at hotels with more than 60 guest rooms. Certain categories of LAX workers, including security officers and janitors, would also be covered.

The motion was seconded by Councilmembers Heather Hutt, Tim McOsker, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Hugo Soto-Martinez.


Price, who chairs the city’s committee on economic development, told reporters that hotels and airplanes are filling up as the COVID-19 pandemic eases. The vast majority of people who would see their wages rise are people of color, he said.

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“This is a matter of human rights,” Price said. “It’s a matter of being fair.”

Two city laws require larger hotels to pay more than $18 an hour to workers, higher than the city’s minimum wage of $16.04.

The latest proposal is meant to consolidate those ordinances.

Peter Hillan, spokesperson for the Hotel Assn. of Los Angeles, which has about 250 members, said L.A. hotels are still recovering from pandemic shutdowns and would struggle with the costs from an additional wage hike.

“It is proposals like these that have led to the city’s reputation as a difficult place to do business and to work,” Hillan said. “Enough is enough.”

Two other groups, the Asian American Hotel Owners Assn. and the California Hotel & Lodging Assn., joined the Hotel Assn. in opposing the proposal.

Labor groups Unite Here Local 11 and Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West are pushing the initiative.


SEIU-USWW member Jovan Houston, 40, told reporters at a news conference that she makes $19.04 an hour at LAX. That’s not enough to cover her $1,500 monthly rent, she said, so she’s worked side jobs as a cosmetologist.

“I struggle,” Houston said. “It’s hard working at LAX.”

The council motion mentions the city’s investment in tourism-related initiatives in preparation for the 2026 World Cup and the 2028 Summer Olympics. Even as L.A. spends heavily to prepare for the sports events, workers are “facing housing insecurity as Los Angeles grapples with an unprecedented housing and homelessness crisis,” the motion states.

The motion asks the city’s chief legislative analyst to report back on the economic impacts of raising the hourly wage to $25 this year and then by $1 a year, reaching $30 by 2028. It also asks the city attorney to begin drafting the wage ordinance.

Hotels with a unionized workforce are expected to be exempt from paying the higher wage if workers agree in their contract to relinquish that opportunity.

Such exemptions are controversial and have been criticized by some union members and outside groups. Opponents argue that proposed wage mandates, such as the one introduced Wednesday, are meant to pressure companies to allow employees to join unions.


Supporters of the exemptions argue the carve-outs enable union members to receive other benefits, such as health insurance, that ultimately count toward their entire pay package.