After two hours of heated testimony and debate, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday decided to put off consideration for a week of controversial living wage and worker retention ordinances for hotels near Los Angeles International Airport.
The ordinances would require operators of 12 hotels on Century Boulevard near the airport to pay their workers wages of $9.39 per hour with benefits or $10.64 per hour without benefits. They would also require hotel management to give workers the right to take at least 10 days of sick leave per year and to pass on customer tips directly to servers and housekeepers.
Also, if a hotel changes ownership, the new owners would be required to keep the existing workers on board for at least 90 days following the closing of the deal, similar to an ordinance for grocery stores that is now in litigation.
Hotel operators and business groups fiercely opposed the proposals, saying it represents an unwarranted intrusion of city government into the affairs of private businesses that receive no direct city funds.
"It's one thing to set wages and workplace policies for businesses that receive city contracts. It's quite another to set wages and contracts for companies that do not do business with the city and it sends a very bad signal," said Mike Pfeiffer, executive director of the Hotel Association of Los Angeles. "It not only affects the hotel owners, but all the independent businesses that are on hotel grounds."
Proponents argued that the airport is a city asset and that the hotels benefit from being so close to the airport. They also said that if workers are paid more, crime and poverty would decrease in communities around the airport. And they say that businesses and jobs did not flee the city in massive numbers after the city passed the original living wage ordinance in 1997.
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