$15.37 minimum wage heads to Garcetti’s desk as hotel group complains

Jim Dunn, foreground right, owner of Airtel Plaza Hotel, who opposes the minimum wage bill, is outnumbered by supporters in yellow shirts when the L.A. City Council tentatively approved a $15.37-per-hour minimum wage for workers at big hotels.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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As the Los Angeles City Council gave final approval Wednesday to a minimum wage increase for workers in large hotels, opponents of the measure reminded city officials they’re not going down without a fight.

The American Hotel and Lodging Assn. filed more than 20 public records requests between city officials and labor groups -- who pushed for the ordinance -- to try to figure out why the process for approving the $15.37 hourly wage was in their view rushed, said Troy Flanagan, vice president of state and local government affairs for the association.

“It seemed this was largely a done deal from the beginning,” said Flanagan. He said the records will help determine whether the ordinance can be challenged in court once Mayor Eric Garcetti signs it into law.


Hotel industry representatives call the measure discriminatory because it does not include workers citywide, and say it was a strategic move by labor groups to encourage more hotels to unionize their workers. Under the ordinance, hotels with a unionized workforce can be exempted from paying the $15.37 hourly wage, if workers agree in their contract to relinquish that opportunity.

“A minimum wage should be citywide,” said Bob Amano, executive director of the Hotel Assn. of Los Angeles. Amano said the members of the City Council didn’t review the economic impact reports commissioned on the proposal before approving the ordinance 12-3 last week.

The wage boost will go into effect in July for hotels with at least 300 rooms, and expand a year later to hotels with at least 150 rooms. Garcetti has promised to sign the ordinance.

Amano’s group projects the wage increase will cause 1,450 job losses across 40 hotels in the city. He said he thinks Garcetti’s separate proposal to gradually increase L.A.’s hourly minimum wage for all workers to $13.25 by 2017 is “a more sensible approach.”

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