Long Beach hoteliers and business leaders were dismayed last week after the overwhelming passage of a measure requiring operators of the city’s major hotels to pay their employees a “living wage.”
“If this measure holds up, Long Beach will become less competitive in the tourism market,” said Randy Gordon, chief executive of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the most outspoken opponent of the measure.
“Costs will go up and hotels won’t be able to offer the same competitive packages to convention businesses, which means fewer visitors and less revenue,” Gordon said. “What’s more, small businesses that rely on tourism will be hurt by fewer visitors coming to the city.”
Measure N, which voters approved by a margin of 63 percent, requires operators of the 16 hotels in Long Beach with more than 100 rooms to pay their workers $13 an hour, more than 60 percent higher than the state’s minimum wage of $8 an hour. The measure also requires hotels to pay workers for up to five sick days a year.
Among the 16 hotels targeted are the Long Beach Hyatt Regency and the Hilton Long Beach Hotel.
As of press time last week, a spokeswoman for the coalition of Long Beach hotels said no decision had been made on whether the hotel operators would file suit to block the measure’s implementation.
Measure N backers – including the Unite Here Local 11 hotel employees union and the union-allied Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy – placed the measure on the ballot in March, saying hotel workers weren’t paid enough to support their families.
Leigh Shelton, a spokeswoman for Unite Here Local 11, said last week that proponents focused their campaign on the message that the community has been subsidizing the hotel industry and that higher pay for workers means more dollars spent in the community. She also said the union might push for similar measures in other Los Angeles County cities.
“With the high level of support we received, it’s not out of the question that we will take this type of measure elsewhere,” she said.
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