LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A motion seeking to raise wages to $25 an hour for tourism workers was introduced by Los Angeles City Councilman Current Price Wednesday, and was met with support from more than 100 workers who helped fill the Council Chambers to capacity.
Price partnered with the SEIU United Service Workers West and Unite Here Local 11, the unions representing hotel and airport workers, to raise wages to be commensurate with a "world-class" tourism economy and city, he said. The proposed ordinance, seconded by Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez, would also fix what Price called loopholes in current policies to make sure workers have adequate access to health care and housing.
"Los Angeles is assuring future growth for the industry as it gears up to host global events like the 2026 World Cup and the 2028 Olympics," Price said in a statement. "Meanwhile, wages aren't enough to keep tourism workers housed, as Los Angeles grapples with an unprecedented housing crisis. Many of the working people who are the foundation of L.A.'s tourism economy, working in L.A. hotels and at LAX, are struggling to survive on the city's current living wage, facing housing and food insecurity, or forced to work two jobs."
During Wednesday's news conference, Soto-Martinez said the motion shows that there is a new City Council that values the labor movement.
"Oftentimes in the labor movement, you fight so hard, so hard to win the things that oftentimes you cannot achieve through the legislative or government process," he said. "Somebody asked me, `How fast is this going to pass?"'
"It's the same answer when a worker says, `How quickly are we're going to win the union?' It's how much are you willing to fight. It's how much are you willing to push. How much are you willing to get out in the streets to make sure that we win these laws," Soto-Martinez said.
The unions launched the Tourism Workers Rising campaign, which aims to update living wage policy and push for quality health care and worker protections. Tourism workers also shared anecdotes of how they are struggling to make ends meet with their current wages.
Jovan Houston, a member of SEIU United Service Workers West, said she has had COVID-19 twice, and works several jobs to make ends meet. She wants the City Council to make sure health care is affordable.
Trina Traylor, campaign coordinator for the Los Angeles Black Worker Center, which advocates for quality jobs for the Black community, came to support the coalition because the majority of her organization's members are also low wage essential workers.
"We need this motion to be passed," Traylor said. "The cost of living continues to rise in Los Angeles but our wages are not. We need $25 an hour."
The city's minimum wage will increase to $16.78 per hour on July 1.
The council will consider Price's motion at a future meeting.