Valley business groups were lobbying hard on Tuesday to turn back a proposed ordinance that would raise the minimum wage of workers at large Los Angeles hotels to more than $15 an hour.
The groups, including the Valley Industry & Commerce Association and Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce, joined up with other L.A. business organizations asking the City Council to turn down the proposal, set for a vote on Wednesday.
The proposal to raise wages from the current state minimum of $9 an hour to $15.37 an hour in hotels with at least 125 rooms would affect at least a dozen Valley-area lodgings, including the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, the Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills and Airtel Plaza Hotel & Conference Center in Van Nuys.
The ordinance is intended to provide hotel workers with a living wage but the business groups argue that singling out one industry for such regulation is bad public policy. They also maintain hotel margins are too thin to support such a wage increase and hotels will be forced to reduce their staff
It was expected that the Council would take up the proposal by Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Nury Martinez and Curren Price Jr., which follows a similar ordinance passed seven years ago that already regulates hotel wages near Los Angeles International Airport.
But the groups were particularly upset that the vote was scheduled just two days after three economic studies on the issue were released, noting that the city promised any extension of the LAX ordinance would be carefully studied. The vote also follows a decision by Mayor Garcetti to support a citywide minimum wage of $13.25, a proposal that has yet to go through the legislative process.
“I think the big thing right now is these economic reports have just come out, but no one has had a chance to read and digest them and make a policy decision,” said Nancy Hoffman Vanyek, chief executive of the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce. “It’s being rushed.”
Among the business groups leading the charge against the ordinance were the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Central City Association of Los Angeles, where many large hotels are located with plans for many more.
The groups held a hastily arranged news conference on the steps of City Hall criticizing what they considered a hasty process with undue influence by labor interests. They also submitted a letter from the Century City law firm of Loeb & Loeb that said if the Council approves the mandate tomorrow, it will have violated the process spelled out in the existing airport hotel minimum wage mandate and could prompt a legal challenge.
The ordinance would go into effect on July 1, 2015 for hotels with 300 or more rooms and July 1, 2016 for hotels with 125 or more rooms. Hotels could apply for a hardship exemption.