A Los Angeles city ordinance mandating that hotels along Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport pay their workers the city's living wage moved a step closer to reality Wednesday, winning approval from a City Council committee.

The Trade, Tourism and Commerce Committee on Wednesday morning voted 2-0 to impose the living wage requirement, bowing to demands from labor unions that are seeking to unionize the hotel workers, raise their wages and change their working conditions.

The ordinance now goes before the full City Council, which is expected to take up the matter later this month. Typically, when a Council committee passes an ordinance through to the full Council without any opposing vote, the Council approves it.

The committee vote came in spite of opposition from the hotel industry and from the business community at large, which opposes the city's attempt to regulate businesses that do not receive direct city funds.

The city's living wage law, passed in 1997, requires companies receiving city contracts or other direct city subsidies to pay specified minimum wage levels to their employees. The wage levels are set once a year, depending on inflation and other factors. Currently, the living wage is $9.39 an hour with health care benefits and $10.64 an hour without benefits.

The state's minimum wage is currently $6.75 an hour, but that is scheduled to increase to $7.50 an hour in January and increase again to $8 an hour in January 2008.

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