The Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of an initiative that would increase wages and safety protocols for hotel workers.
With the Unite Here 11 hotel union present in support of Councilman Kevin De León’s initiative, the council voiced its thoughts on hotel worker rights and passed it by a 10-3 vote.
“These are basic workplace protections,” De León said during the council meeting. “Nothing proposed here is in fact controversial.”
De León spoke about his mother, who was a housekeeper and hotel worker, saying that Latina immigrant women have “three strikes” against them when it comes to workers rights.
The councilman transitioned the anecdote about his mother, into hotel worker rights, saying she never had access to many rights.
The ordinance pertains to worker rights for increased wages, consistent hours, “fair compensation for heavy workloads” and access to “panic buttons” that would be used in instances of sexual assault.
“I am one of thousands of housekeepers in Los Angeles who will finally have panic buttons and other protections on the job,” housekeeper Martha Moran said in a statement from Unite Here Local 11. “My coworkers and I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and to receive fair compensation for the work we do. This initiative provides those things.”
While not opposed to the idea of an initiative for hotel workers, council members John Lee, Paul Krekorian and Joe Buscaino voted against the ordinance, saying they had concerns over a lack of “policy analysis” in relation to the ordinance.
Krekorian said the council had not done its due diligence on the ordinance, giving examples that it did not reach out for community input, or hold committee hearings, or compare and contrast the ordinance with similar ones by neighboring cities.
“If you support this then by all means support it, we’ll campaign for it between now and November,” Krekorian said. “At the same time, if we’re going to enact this as a council, shouldn’t we have at least had one policy committee hearing on it? We’re saying certain arguments are ‘bs’ off the top of our heads, without a single bit of policy analysis having been done. Not one bit.
“This is not the way this body should make policy. This body should make policy at the initiation of council members who introduce motions, which are then heard by committees, which are then voted on by this council and none of that is before us today. As much as I would love to support the substance of this, I don’t think we’ve justified out ability to do that today.”
Buscaino then expressed concerns over the ordinance “complicating” hiring in the L.A. hospitality industry, as well as a lack of economic analysis on the impact COVID-19 had on hospitality.
“It is our job as a council to do bare minimum due diligence,” Buscaino said. “But all we’re asking is just basic information… on the economic analysis of the impacts of this ordinance before us.”
Before voting on the ordinance, the council voted on a motion to send the item to ballot in November’s California elections instead of passing through the council. The motion failed with a 3-10 vote.
“Why should we ask the voters to tell us to do something we know is the right thing to do?” De León said in response to Lee’s motion. “When I was the leader of the senate, I loathed moving measures before the electorate as a whole. I’d always say, ‘Why don’t we take care of business here?’ That’s why we were voted… to make the tough calls.”
The ordinance will be voted on once again at a future meeting, and if it passes a second time, will be sent to Mayor Eric Garcetti to sign into law.
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