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Thursday, Dec 8, 2022
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L.A. Shouldn’t Become a Haven for Low-Road Employers

By VIVIAN ROTHSTEIN


For some time now Los Angeles has been known as the capital of working poverty. With seven of the 10 occupations projected for the most growth in our county in the next several years paying $10 or less an hour, that moniker could become permanent.

We at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy have a different vision for our community one in which fulltime workers make enough in wages to support their families without having to rely on government hand-outs.


For 3,500 people who work in the hotels located in the Century Corridor, the Los Angeles City Council has taken an important first step in attaining that vision by extending the city’s Living Wage Ordinance to hotels that operate along Century Boulevard near LAX.


Many of those who work in these hotels live in the surrounding communities of Hawthorne, Lennox, South Los Angeles and Inglewood where one in four residents lives below the poverty line. Their wages are 20 percent lower on average than for workers in downtown hotels, even though revenue per room is higher at the airport properties.


A raise to $10.64 per hour the current living wage will hardly propel these families into a cushy, middle-class lifestyle. But what the vote will do is keep them out of poverty and give them some measure of economic security. Some of them may be able to quit an extra job; others will move out of overcrowded housing. The money they earn will be spent in their communities and contribute to the general economic growth of the area. This benefits everyone, the workers and their families, the communities in which they reside and the businesses located in their communities.



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There is no serious question that California cities can legally enact ordinances requiring higher wages for private businesses in the community. The federal courts have recently upheld an ordinance in Emeryville that similarly establishes a living wage requirement for large hotels. It is equally clear that such wage ordinances may focus on employers in specific industries that are contributing to the spread of working poverty and that policymakers believe can be asked to pay higher wages without harming the local economy. The recent Emeryville ruling confirms this.


Opponents of this plan claim it will spell disaster for our business climate. But nothing could be more harmful to our local economy than becoming a haven for low-road employers whose workers are dependent on government handouts for survival.


This is the time for the City of Los Angeles to take a stand.


The alternative is something we, as a city, cannot afford.



Vivian Rothstein is deputy director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.

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