Help for L.A. Latinas in ‘Poverty Jobs’?

A labor union push in L.A. to give tourism workers an hourly salary of $15.37 would most help maids employed at hotels with 100 rooms or more.

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - JULY 27: Maria Antonieta, a housekeeper, at the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne hotel prepares a room for a new occupant on July 27, 2010 in Key Biscayne, Florida. According to data from Smith Travel research, hotel occupancy in South Florida has gone up when June of 2009 and June of 2010 are compared. Occupancy in June 2010 shows an almost 5 percent increase, which mirrors the national trend. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
National Journal
Jorge Rivas, Fusion
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Jorge Rivas, Fusion
Jan. 22, 2014, 8:43 a.m.

From the hills to the beaches, one of the greatest eco­nom­ic drivers in Los Angeles is the tour­ism in­dustry. Last year the city broke vis­it­a­tion re­cords for the third con­sec­ut­ive year, but the thriv­ing tour­ism in­dustry in L.A. is also a ma­jor source of what loc­al com­munity or­gan­izers call “poverty jobs.”

“The con­tinu­ing, re­cord-break­ing growth and strength of tour­ism in Los Angeles is a shin­ing light for our eco­nomy, cre­at­ing good-pay­ing jobs for our fam­il­ies, be­ne­fit­ing loc­al busi­nesses, and gen­er­at­ing sig­ni­fic­ant rev­en­ue for the city,” said Los Angeles May­or Eric Gar­cetti at a Jan. 6 press con­fer­ence cel­eb­rat­ing the re­cord num­ber of vis­it­ors.

But an ana­lys­is of U.S. Census data found about 40 per­cent of hos­pit­al­ity work­ers in Los Angeles County live be­low twice the fed­er­al poverty level, ac­cord­ing to the Eco­nom­ic Policy In­sti­tute.

Uni­on or­gan­izers in the city say the hotel in­dustry’s re­cord num­ber of vis­it­ors is pre­cisely why it is poised more than any oth­er sec­tor to be able to of­fer work­ers a liv­ing wage. The county labor or­gan­iz­a­tion and the hotel and res­taur­ant work­ers uni­on, Unite Here Loc­al 11, have launched a cam­paign to re­quire a $15.37 hourly wage for hotel work­ers in Los Angeles.

The $15 hourly wage would be spe­cif­ic to work­ers at ho­tels with 100 rooms or more. Ho­tels with work­ers who are uni­on­ized would be ex­empt from the law.

Click on the im­age to ac­cess a full graph­icThe pro­pos­al will be presen­ted in the city coun­cil meet­ings in com­ing weeks. Gar­cetti has not com­men­ted on wheth­er he would sup­port the bill.

The cam­paign to raise the min­im­um wage in Los Angeles is part of a grow­ing move­ment mostly led by uni­ons to raise the min­im­um wage to a liv­ing wage.

Or­gan­izers have set their tar­get wage at $15 an hour based on the cri­ter­ia set in the Fair Labor Stand­ards Act of a wage suf­fi­cient to sup­port the “min­im­um stand­ard of liv­ing ne­ces­sary for health, ef­fi­ciency, and gen­er­al well-be­ing.” A full-time work­er with a $15 per hour wage would be paid at least $26,250 a year.

In Decem­ber 2013 fast food work­ers in close to 100 U.S. cit­ies walked off their jobs de­mand­ing an hourly wage in­crease to $15 an hour.

Last Novem­ber voters in the state of Wash­ing­ton ap­proved a $15 min­im­um wage for work­ers in and around Seattle-Ta­coma In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port, but op­pon­ents have chal­lenged the out­come, de­mand­ing a re­count by hand to en­sure “the most ac­cur­ate pos­sible” res­ults. The busi­ness backed polit­ic­al com­mit­tee that op­poses the pro­pos­i­tion ar­gues “fair com­pens­a­tion should be ne­go­ti­ated between em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees.”

This art­icle is pub­lished with per­mis­sion from Fu­sion, a TV and di­git­al net­work that cham­pi­ons a smart, di­verse and in­clus­ive Amer­ica. Fu­sion is a part­ner of Na­tion­al Journ­al and The Next Amer­ica. Fol­low the au­thor on Twit­ter: @This­Is­Jorge

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