Workers at large Los Angeles hotels would see their wages rise to $15.37 an hour under a measure given preliminary approval by city leaders on Wednesday that would grant employees in that sector one of the highest wage floors in the nation.
The proposal, approved by the Los Angeles City Council by a vote of 12-3, is subject to a final vote next week. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who last month pledged to bring the city's overall minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017, has said he would sign the hotel measure if it reaches his desk.
Los Angeles is one of dozens of cities looking to implement so-called living wage ordinances, especially on the West Coast. Seattle approved a phased-in $15 overall minimum wage in June, while San Francisco residents will vote on a $15 minimum in November.
"It's time to lift the floor in Los Angeles, it's time to bring economic justice in Los Angeles, it's time to raise L.A.," said Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who voted for the hike.
Hospitality industry officials warned the higher wage floor could lead some hotels to lay off staff and discourage the building of new hotels, while supporters contend it is needed in an industry where workers struggle to make ends meet.
California's overall minimum wage stands at $9 an hour.
The $15.37 an hour ordinance for Los Angeles hotel workers, if it gets final approval, would take effect on July 1, 2015, for hotels with 300 or more rooms and a year later for establishments with at least 150 rooms.
Hotels presenting claims of financial hardship could be granted exemptions to prevent layoffs, according to the office of City Councilman Curren Price who backs the measure.
Hotel industry officials raised objections on Wednesday, with some saying employees who receive tips should be excluded.
"Please give it some more time to let us discuss this," Mike Czarcinski, chairman of the Hotel Association of Los Angeles, told council members. "We want a fair wage for everybody, and we think $13.25 is the right number."
The Los Angeles hike for hotel workers would be one of the highest minimum wages in the nation, said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, senior staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project.
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