Associations file suit over LA wage hike

The American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in response to a Los Angeles ordinance, which raised the minimum wage for hotel workers in the city to US$15.37. The suit seeks to enjoin the city from interfering with the collective bargaining process, stating that the ordinance exercise power beyond the limits of the city’s authority.

The lawsuit was filed in the federal United States District Court for the Central District of California and seeks to invalidate the Los Angeles ordinance and prevent the city from enforcing its provisions on the grounds that it disrupts the relationship between labor and employers established by the United States Congress.

“AH&LA supports the Mayor’s efforts to increase wages for all workers in L.A, but we cannot stand by when recent actions by the city council against hotels disrupt the laws for labor relations currently followed in all 50 states. For nearly a century, there has been consensus that a single set of rules governing labor relations is good for the long-term best interests of management, unions and workers,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of AH&LA. “Our workers are the backbone of the hotel industry. We are proud of how we treat our team members and the opportunities we provide them to grow and build careers in our industry.”

The city’s ordinance includes an “exemption for collective bargaining,” which empowers unions to waive any part of the agreement for any hotel they cover through a collective bargaining agreement. The two associations stated this ability provides unions with dramatically increased leverage to extract concessions from hotel management, a violation of federal requirements for the negotiations of labor agreements.

“This law is well outside the mainstream, and the nation is watching what happens here in Los Angeles,” continued Lugar. “We support fair and balanced wage increases for all workers in the City of Los Angeles, and we support one set of ground rules between industries for labor-management relations.”

The suit outlines how the ordinance shifts power in favor of unions seeking to expand their influence in a manner that is inconsistent with the federally established regulation between labor and management. Because those relations cannot be changed at the local level, the associations said ordinance should be invalidated and struck down by the courts.