Earlier this year, hotel employees and lawmakers began the push for higher wages within the industry. One of the largest gains for the movement took place this week as the Los Angeles city council approved a wage increase to 15.37 an hour.
The city council voted 12 to 3 on the decision to impose higher wages on large hotels, according to the Los Angeles Times. Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, told the Los Angeles Times that he predicts other cities will follow L.A.'s lead, similar to when the city passed a "living wage" ordinance in 1997 mandating higher pay for city contractors.
"Because of the size and prominence of the hotel industry here in Los Angeles, I do believe that this will have national reverberations," Wong told the Los Angeles Times.
The decision to raise the minimum wage comes in the face of multiple warnings from Los Angeles business advocates, who say the increase will result in job losses in hotels. The AH&LA released a survey in early September where nearly 40 percent of respondents claim they already pay their workforce above the minimum wage, seeking to highlight the negative consequences of the extreme wage initiatives.
The Wall Street Journal reported that 11 state legislatures voted to enact minimum-wage increases this year, starting with Massachusetts which is mandating an $11-an-hour floor to be in place by 2017. President Barack Obama has also pushed to raise the federal minimum from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, a measure that has failed to find traction in Congress.
Los Angeles' $15.37-an-hour wage for hotel workers matches the living wage standard in place at the Los Angeles International Airport business district.
"We’re the largest major city with the deepest poverty," Victor Narra, a project director at the UCLA Labor Center, told The Guardian. Narra lobbied for the measure in response to poverty. "In non-unionised jobs it’s impossible for people to sustain themselves. To work full time and be in poverty flies in the face of the American dream.”