Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has signed a package of ordinances that include legislation requiring hotels near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to pay their service workers a “living wage.”

The legislation, which extends the city living wage law to airport-area hotels along the Century Boulevard Corridor in Westchester, will require the hotels to pay service workers $9.39 per hour with health benefits or $10.64 per hour without.

Two other ordinances in the package will enable workers to keep their jobs for at least 90 days after a hotel changes ownership, and will require the hotels to pass along all service fees automatically charged to clients for large events directly to the service workers.

After the Los Angeles City Council gave final approval to the package of ordinances Wednesday, November 22nd, Villaraigosa signed them into law Monday, November 27th.

“It’s only fair that the workers who labor to keep these hotels and our economy humming are paid a decent living wage,” Villaraigosa said. “It is simply the right thing to do. These are fair and decent measures that I believe will enhance the service along the Century Corridor.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the Westchester area in the 11th Council District, agreed with the mayor, saying the laws will help improve the working conditions for employees of the LAX-area hotels.

“I applaud Mayor Villaraigosa for signing this historic and important legislation,” Rosendahl said. “Living wage is the right thing for the workers, the right thing for hotels and the right thing for Los Angeles.”

Hotel industry and business groups have opposed the new legislation, arguing that it improperly extends the city’s living wage law and other provisions to private sector employers that don’t have contracts with the city.

“We see this as a brand-new minimum wage for the City of Los Angeles,” said Mike Pfeiffer, executive director of the Hotel Association of Los Angeles.

The law will not only affect the hotels in the Century Corridor but any of the businesses that provide guest-related services at the hotels, he said.

Pfeiffer said the Hotel Association plans to challenge the living wage requirement of the new ordinance package through a voter referendum.

The association expects to move forward in the signature gathering process and has about 30 days to get nearly 50,000 signatures to qualify for a voter referendum, he said.

“We expect to make use of that time to reach out to voters,” Pfeiffer said.

The new living wage ordinances are scheduled to go into effect Saturday, December 30th, but if enough signatures are received for a referendum, the laws would be delayed until after the next citywide election in March.

The Hotel Association has not “ruled out” challenging the ordinances through a lawsuit, but the group is currently pushing for a referendum because there is only a “short window” of time to do so, Pfeiffer said.

When he signed the ordinances into law, Villaraigosa said a strong economy and fair treatment of the workforce should go “hand-in-hand.”

“It’s time for the city to come together and recognize that we cannot truly prosper unless all of our communities prosper,” Villaraigosa said.

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