The City of Los Angeles Tuesday was sued in federal court by two hotel industry groups challenging the recent passage of a $15.37 per hour minimum wage for employees. The lawsuit filed by the
American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association contends the local wage hike ordinance oversteps federal laws governing the relationship between labor
unions and employers.
“This is a critical issue for our members, not just in Los Angeles, but across the country which is why we’re here today,” Chip Rogers of the Asian-American Hotel Owners Association said.
The wage was approved by the City Council in October. Hotels with 300 or more rooms to begin paying the new minimum wage by July 1. Hotels with at least 150 rooms will have until July 1, 2016 to comply.
The proposed wage increase would allow hotel employees to earn about $30,000 a year.
“It’s still barely an adequate income to live in Los Angeles,” Councilman Curran Price said.
Many unionized hotels are exempt from the wage hike, since workers are already covered by a negotiated contract.
According to the suit, the city’s hotel workers wage ordinance gives unfair advantage to labor unions because it allows unions to negotiate wages lower that the $15 per hour, this giving an unfair advantage to unionized hotels.
“This lawsuit is not about wages. This lawsuit is about the fact that the City of Los Angeles took an action that disrupts established labor law,” sai Katherine Lugar, CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
Hotel industry representatives said they are “prepared to work with local officials” on wage increases that apply to all workers, “but we cannot — and will not — stand by when recent actions by the City Council single out hotels.”
The hotel workers union declined to comment on the case, however, they did release a written statement:
“The LA City Council took a powerful step toward improving Angelenos’ lives. It’s a shame some hotel owners would rather spend money on lawyers than paying hard-working employees a decent wage.”
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