Saturday, September 27, 2014

Workers Of The World - 7

Los Angeles Hotel Workers

The Los Angeles City Council passed one of the highest minimum wage requirements in the country this week, which will apply to employees at big hotels around the city.
In a 12-3 vote on Wednesday, council members backed an ordinance establishing a minimum hourly wage of $15.37 for workers at Los Angeles hotels with at least 125 guest rooms. If passed in a final vote next week, the ordinance would go into effect in July for hotels with more than 300 rooms. Those with at least 125 but fewer than 300 would have to comply by July 2016. Analyses suggest the measure, which was backed by organized labor, neighborhood coalitions, and the ACLU of Southern California, would affect anywhere from 5,000 to 13,000 low-income workers.

They deserve better, organizers said, because while the thriving hotel industry has benefited from tax breaks and high tourist demand, low-paid employees still need to work two jobs just to make ends meet.
"The hospitality industry is one of the few industries that came out of the recession and has been seeing record profit,” Raise LA Coalition’s Rachel Torres told CBS-LA. "But unfortunately, hotel workers have been living below poverty."

In 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the leisure and hospitality industry had the highest percentage—19 percent—of workers earning hourly wages at or below the federal minimum wage, $7.25. The California minimum wage is currently set at $9 an hour.

Opponents of the measure said it was a job killer or would discourage development. "Today a whole bunch of people in the hotel industry lost their jobs; they just don't know it yet," said Ruben Gonzalez, senior vice president with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, in the LA Times.

But in the face of conflicting positions, the low-paid worker's plight was more compelling to lawmakers.
"I am not naïve to the fact that there will be trade offs, including the possibility of some job loss," said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who backed the wage hike measure. "However, this will help lift many out of poverty. My heart voted with the hotel workers, most of them women, who are struggling to balance a job and family just to afford to pay rent. At the end of the day, between the intellect and the heart, the heart wins out."

SOYMB supports action which benefits workers' conditions. This particular action will benefit a few thousand workers in Los Angeles and good luck to them. But how will those whose jobs are lost as a consequence look back to what was fought for and declared won? How will it be for those waiting until 2016 for the increase and what will it be worth then? What about all those working in hotels with less than 125 guest rooms? Overall these 'baby step' reforms (as I've heard them called) are just part of the ongoing pattern of employer/employee relationship. If we have empathy with these particular workers don't we have similar empathy for all workers? Socialism looks beyond reforms of any kind to a revolution of all the workers of the world in which the wages system itself will finally be abolished.

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