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Hotel worker minimum wage measure passes in Long Beach

November 7, 2012 | 10:01 am

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

A union-backed living wage measure for Long Beach hotel workers passed with more than 60% of the vote in Tuesday's election -- the third hotel worker living wage measure to pass in California.

With all precincts reporting, 63.22% of voters favored Measure N, which requires nonunionized hotels with more than 100 rooms to pay all workers at least $13 an hour, according to the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder/clerk's office.

By passing the measure, Long Beach voters have required 17 of the city's hotels to pay workers a rate that is $4 more than California minimum wage and provide them with five sick days each year.

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"We're ecstatic that Long Beach voted overwhelmingly to pass this," said Christine Petit of the Long Beach Coalition For Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, which sponsored the measure.

"And this ordinance means a lot to the workers, who will get the wage increases just in time for the holidays."

Long Beach becomes the third California city to pass a living wage provision specific to hotel workers. The first, in Emeryville, passed in 2005 and was joined by a measure in 2007 to create a living wage for workers at Century Boulvard hotels near LAX.

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The Long Beach measure was largely pushed by UNITE Here 11, the Los Angeles chapter of a national service worker union. Hotels that allow collective bargaining –- such as the Hotel Maya and the Queen Mary -- are exempt from the living wage requirement

"We are so excited," said Leigh Shelton, a spokeswoman for UNITE Here 11, which collected more than 40,000 signatures to get the measure placed on the ballot. 

Opponents of the measure, including prominent Long Beach chief executives, members of the Downtown Business Assn. and the hotels themselves, argued the measure would amount to unjust government interference in the private sector and force some of the hotels to eliminate jobs, hike room rates and, potentially, shutter their doors.

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“This is one of the worst measures in the history of Long Beach,” said Randy Gordon, president and chief executive of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, in a previous interview.

Gordon, who warned that passing the measure would cripple medium-sized hotels and could undermine the city's tourism industry, could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

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— Wesley Lowery

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Photo: Voters in the city of Long Beach, pictured, approved a measure to increase the minimum wage for hotel workers to at least $13 an hour. Credit: Christina House / For the Times

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