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Unionized Hotel Workers Make Less Than Non-Union Workers Because of "Labor Loophole"

Raise the wage, but only for some (Photo by Eric Garcetti via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
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Because of a series of labor loopholes in Los Angeles’ hotel worker minimum wage legislation, union employees who work in L.A.’s hospitality industry are earning less money than non-union workers who do the very same job. While the loopholes were originally inserted initially in hopes of boosting union membership, union members are not at all happy about what seems to amount to discrimination, according to the L.A. Times.

The Times’ story underscores the difference between workers at a pair of Universal City hotels; the Sheraton Universal, which employs chiefly union workers for, and the Universal Hilton, which employs chiefly non-union workers.

Where union workers at the Sheraton earn the minimum wage of $10 hourly, other non-union employees at the Universal Hilton will soon earn $15.37 hourly.

This is because when the L.A. City council voted to raise the wage earned by hotel workers in Los Angeles’ massive hotel industry to $15 an hour, they excluded union workers from the same provisions. Similar rules exist in other cities that have voted to raise the minimum wage, including San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Monica.

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Unite Here Local 11 is the union that represents hotel workers in Los Angeles. The union has been campaigning (successfully) to raise the wage of hotel workers in the area, despite also lobbying for exemptions for the people it represents.

Tom Walsh, the president of Local 11, offered this justification to the Times: "I wouldn't even say it's an incentive… It just perhaps will cause them to be less resistant to unionization."

Per the U.S. Department of Labor, Unite Here Local 11’s membership has grown 73 percent since it started campaigning for higher hotel workers wages across the greater Los Angeles area in 2006. Dues are about $55 monthly.

The L.A. City Council will be considering union exemptions in its own city-wide minimum wage legislation later this week, though thankfully the provision does not exist in the statewide minimum wage act passed a couple of weeks ago.