Los Angeles raises minimum hotel wage to $15.37 per hour
Los Angeles has raised the minimum wage at large hotels to $15.37 per hour.
In a 12-3 vote, the LA city council approved the rise for hotels with more than 300 rooms on July 1, 2015, and for hotels with more than 150 rooms a year later.
The new wage floor would be one of the highest in the US.
It was opposed by the hotel industry, which said it would force worker redundancies. Mayor Eric Garcetti has said he will sign the bill into law.
Under the measure passed on Wednesday, the minimum could be temporarily waived for hotels facing bankruptcy or imminent closure. Hotels with unionized workers could also be exempt if minimum wages are defined in collective bargaining agreements.
It is unclear how many workers the rise will affect. An earlier study, based on a threshold of 125 rooms, estimated the number at 13,000 employees, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
Because the vote was not unanimous, the council will take a second vote next week in order to pass it formally.
Wednesday’s vote comes after Seattle’s city council voted to raise its hourly minimum to $15 over several years. San Francisco will vote on a similar rise in November.
Eric Garcetti has pledged to push for a city-wide rise to $13.25 by 2017.
California’s current minimum hourly wage is $9, rising to $10 by January 1, 2016.
The vote was the result of a sustained campaign by local community councils, labor unions, and the American Civil Liberties Union, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Councilman Bernard Parks, one of the three votes against, argued wage rises should not be “just for a specific union or industry or business”, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Hospitality industry figures warned the rise could lead to hotels making workers redundant.
And some hotel industry executives suggested employees who receive tips should be exempt.
“Please give it some more time to let us discuss this,” Mike Czarcinski, chairman of the Hotel Association of Los Angeles, told council members ahead of the vote, saying his organization thinks $13.25 per hour “is the right number”.
However, supporters said larger hotels could afford to pay higher wages in an industry where many workers struggle to escape poverty.
“It’s time to lift the floor in Los Angeles, it’s time to bring economic justice in Los Angeles, it’s time to raise LA,” Councilman Mike Bonin said.