Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Living Wage and A Stronger City

Los Angeles remains an enduring symbol of the promise of economic possibility for those who seek a better life for themselves and their families, a light that reaches across the globe. For many Angelenos, however, this dream is out of reach. Unable to participate in the prosperity that they came to Los Angeles to find, they are left in the shadows, uncertain about their economic future.

The city’s continuing efforts to bridge the divide between this economic ideal and the everyday reality of life in Los Angeles has taken a strong step forward. I joined my colleagues on the city council to pass three ordinances that protect and improve conditions for hotel workers in the Century Corridor near LAX. This legislative package will give a boost to some of the poorest workers in Los Angeles, clustered in communities that are dominated by employment in the tourism and service sectors.


The three ordinances require that workers in the 13 Century Corridor hotels be paid the "living wage" as set by the city, which is $9.39 per hour with health benefits and $10.64 per hour without; institute tip protection for many workers who had never seen gratuities passed on to them even when hotels placed 20% service charges on banquet invoices; and mandate that workers not be fired simply because a hotel's corporate ownership changes hands, in line with the Worker Retention Ordinance on the city's books.

The Century Corridor hotels thrive because of the massive public investment that is LAX—no one pretends for an instant that they would be there or that they would have the high revenues per available room that they do if LAX were not there. It's also my hope that this is only the beginning of our investment in an area that it is an underdeveloped gateway to Los Angeles. Easing poverty in the neighborhoods will move us towards a more welcoming gateway, but there is more to be done, and I look forward to working with the council (Councilmember Bill Rosendahl represents the area and has been a major sponsor of this legislation, and Councilmember Janice Hahn, in her capacity as chair of the Tourism, Commerce and Trade committee, really led the charge), the mayor and the Century Corridor businesses and employees to continue to improve the community.