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Los Angeles Hotels, Workers At Odds Heading Into Tourism Season

The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites

Los Angeles’ hospitality industry is gearing up for high travel season while grappling with a looming strike and a potential pay raise for hospitality workers that hoteliers and business groups say would kneecap the industry.  

The proposed pay increase ordinance would have a “devastating impact” on the Los Angeles economy and jobs, LA Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Maria S. Salinas told Los Angeles Business First, adding that the ordinance “unfairly targets a vital industry for our region that has yet to recover from the pandemic.”

Proposed in April, the ordinance would raise the minimum wage for hotel workers to $25 an hour this year and an additional $1 per year until 2028, when the city hosts the Olympic Games. The increase would also apply to workers at Los Angeles International Airport.

But a study by Oxford Economics and released by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce suggests the increase in wages would result in the loss of more than 14,800 jobs across the city, a $1.1B loss in visitor spending, and tens of millions in lost state and local tax revenue. 

The push and pull between hotels and their workers over wages is playing out on another front. On Friday, more than 15,000 hotel workers belonging to the union Unite Here Local 11 voted to authorize a strike over wages that would affect more than 60 hotels in LA and Orange counties, the Orange County Register reported

The strike authorization came after more than a month of negotiations with hotel operators, including major players Hyatt, Hilton, Highgate, Accor, IHG and Marriott, the union said in a statement. Workers are hoping for an immediate $5-per-hour raise, the Register reported. Wages range from $20 to $25 per hour for housekeepers and $22 to $28 for dishwashers and cooks, the union told the Los Angeles Times.

Contracts are set to expire on June 30 at hotels including The Westin Bonaventure in Downtown, the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica and the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, the LA Times reported. A strike could come as soon as Fourth of July weekend if the workers and their employers can’t reach an agreement on wages, the union said.