L.A.-area business leaders announced Friday that they were submitting more than 100,000 voter signatures to place a referendum on a citywide ballot intended to overturn a set of ordinances extending the city's living wage law to a dozen hotels near Los Angeles International Airport.
"This law will actually hurt the working families it seeks to help when jobs are forced to leave Los Angeles," said Gary Toebben, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. "The sheer number of signatures collected in less than a month makes it clear that voters know it would be bad for the city."
Assuming the signatures are verified next month, the City Council would then have 20 days to consider whether to repeal the ordinances or place them on the ballot, presumably as part of the May city general election. If the referendum goes to the ballot, a "yes" vote would indicate support for the living wage ordinance.
In November, the City Council passed a package of three ordinances aimed at boosting pay and working conditions for workers at a dozen hotels along the Century Boulevard corridor near the airport.
One measure extends the city's living wage $9.39 an hour with health benefits and $10.64 an hour without benefits to the hotels. The second measure requires new hotel owners to retain existing employees for at least 90 days after assuming control of the hotel, while the third requires hotel management to pass on all service charges for banquets and special events to servers and other line employees.
The owners and operators of the dozen hotels targeted by the measure immediately sought to challenge the ordinances through voter referendum and enlisted the chamber and other business groups to help them in the effort.
There was some controversy during the signature gathering process and members of the City Council charged that some paid signature gatherers were intentionally misleading signers about the purpose of the referendum. The organizers of the referendum effort said they had fired the handful of signature gatherers involved.
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