Calif. Supreme Court rejects living wage appeal

Chris Rizo Apr. 11, 2008, 4:26pm

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline)-The California Supreme Court has dealt a major setback to hotels near the Los Angeles International Airport that sought to overturn the city's living wage law.

The high court this week declined to hear the hotels' appeal to a lower court ruling that held the city ordinance is lawful.

By rejecting the case, the Supreme Court essentially paved the way for the ordinance to take effect, but opponents told Legal Newsline they are considering other options to overturn the law, including going to voters.

The ordinance requires 13 hotels just along Century Boulevard to pay their workers $9.39 an hour with benefits, or $10.64 an hour without benefits. The law goes into effect 30 days from final publication of the ordinance, which is expected in the next two weeks.

Ruben Gonzalez, executive director the Hotel Association of Los Angeles, told Legal Newsline the group may challenge the city's authority to impose a living wage on businesses not contracting with the city.

"There is still more than adequate grounds to challenge the ordinance on its merits, or lack of merits," Gonzales said, adding that the ordinance came after unsuccessful efforts by UNITE HERE Local 11 to organize hotel workers along the Century Corridor.

Since there is an exemption in the living wage law for workers covered by collective bargaining agreements, Gonzales said the ordinance is "blackmail by policy."

Supporters of the ordinance, meanwhile, hailed the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the appellate court's ruling.

"After more than a year of waiting and millions of dollars in lost wages to these hard working men and women, hotel workers on the Century Corridor will finally start to receive the living wage that they deserve," City Councilwoman Janice Hahn said in statement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at

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