Nov 12 2012

Long Beach Hotel Workers Celebrate Major Election Victory

Hotel workers in Long Beach are celebrating a major victory when voters last Tuesday passed a living wage ordinance and paid sick leave provision. Measure N, sponsored by the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, and pushed strongly by Unite HERE Local 11 raises the minimum wage for workers at 17 Long Beach hotels to $13 an hour, and gives them five days a year of paid sick leave. Those hotels open to collective bargaining rights for their workers are exempt from the law.

Opponents of Measure N included hotel executives, members of the Downtown Business Association, Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, and the Long Beach Press Telegram, who argued that passage of the measure would result in hotel rate hikes and layoffs. Chamber of Commerce President Randy Gordon called it “one of the worst measures in the history of Long Beach.”

But Long Beach City Council member Suja Lowenthal, among Measure N’s supporters, said in an editorial, “Long Beach has a profitable tourism industry. It needs a healthy one as well — one which pays its workers enough to live decent lives and give back to our local economy.” Ten percent of Long Beach employees are in the hospitality industry.

Long Beach is now the third city in California with a living wage ordinance specifically aimed at hotel workers. Additionally, during this election, voters in San Jose, California voted to raise the overall minimum wage to $10 an hour, while voters in Albuquerque, New Mexico raised the minimum wage to $8.50.

GUEST: Jeannine Pearce, Organizer at the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community

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