The Los Angeles City Council yesterday voted to set the minimum wage for hotel employees at $15.37 an hour — one of the highest minimums in the country — leaving West Hollywood businesses wondering what the impact of that will be on them.
The increase takes effect in July for hotels with at least 300 rooms. Hotels with at least 150 rooms will be required to meet that minimum wage level a year later.
West Hollywood has not set minimum wage requirements for local businesses other than those with which the city has contracts. But the City Council at its Sept. 8 meeting asked city staffers to analyze wages paid in West Hollywood to restaurant support staff, food service workers, laborers, housekeepers, store clerks and other low-wage employees with the idea of establishing a citywide minimum wage requirement in mind. That initiative, proposed by Councilmembers Abbe Land and John Heilman, follows a declaration by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Labor Day that he would push for increasing that city’s minimum wage to $10.25 next year, $11.75 in 2016 and $13.25 in 2017.
Genevieve Morrill, president of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, said any overall minimum wage established in West Hollywood should focus on ensuring that pay is equitable and not necessarily the highest in the area.
“We do believe that an increase in the minimum wage will help feed the economy, but if we don’t make it equitable for businesses they will have to take away benefits or put on surcharges for customers,” Morrill said.
Morrill said the Chamber is actively gathering information from local businesses as to the impact a minimum wage increase would have on them. She noted that 70 percent of the city’s businesses are small, with four or fewer employees, and thus likely to be especially affected by a minimum wage increase.
Morrill noted that the specific increase in the Los Angeles hotel minimum wages was pushed by labor unions. One of them was Unite HERE Local 11, the union that represents hotel employees.
“It’s all labor union driven, obviously. We think it’s unfair to single out one industry over the other.”
The tourism and entertainment industries, which are supported by low-wage jobs such as bartending, waiting tables, and cleaning hotel rooms, are major contributors to West Hollywood’s economy. For example, hotel room taxes are expected to generate $20 million this fiscal year, accounting for 22 percent of the revenue for the city’s general fund.