One of the major airport area hotels targeted by the expansion of city's living wage ordinance moved on Thursday to rehire workers that had been fired earlier in the week while repudiating the effort by other airport hotels to overturn the ordinance.


American Property Management Corp., which assumed ownership of the 563-room Four Points Sheraton Hotel on Tuesday, fired 12 workers on the same day. But two days later, the new owner yielded to pressure from local elected officials and rehired the workers.


American Property Management also said it would pay all its Sheraton hotel workers at least the living wage of $9.39 an hour and boost the benefit packages for all workers. And the company president and chief executive urged his fellow hotel operators to drop their bid to place a referendum on the ballot intended to overturn the living wage ordinance.


"We are committed to paying all our workers the living wage and to improving the human condition of all our personnel in Los Angeles," said Michael Gallegos, president and chief executive of American Property Management. "We challenge all the other hotels to get on the right side of this issue and stop fighting the living wage and stop supporting this referendum drive."


Gallegos said the commitments would cost the hotel at least $1 million in additional wages and salaries and several hundred thousand dollars more in benefits.


The remaining 11 hotels targeted by the living wage extension are in the midst of a signature-gathering campaign to place the ordinance passed by the City Council last month on the ballot, so that they can try to convince voters to repeal it.


Gallegos said his decision to break ranks with the other hotels came after conversations with local elected officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, Westside City Councilman Bill Rosendahl. He also credited Los Angeles County Federation of Labor chief Maria Elena Durazo with convincing him of the value of the workers that had been fired.


The move was welcomed by local elected officials, labor leaders and living wage advocates. "He went from Scrooge to Santa Claus," said Councilwoman Janice Hahn of Gallegos.


Representatives of the other hotels said they do not believe the move by the new Sheraton owners will impact their campaign to overturn the living wage.


In related news, Gallegos also said American Property Management plans a $7 million renovation of the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, starting next year.

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