How can we boost the economies of our cities, support our local small businesses and sustain thriving communities? The Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, an organization supported by LAANE, has a suggestion: Pass the Hotel Living Wage initiative on the November ballot.
The initiative would set a minimum wage of $13 an hour; provide up to five paid days off per year for sick, vacation or personal needs; and protect worker tips for an estimated 2,000 hotel workers in the 16 largest hotels in Long Beach.
More than 120 local businesses, from bike shops to restaurants and from boutiques to independent grocers, have signed on as supporters of the proposition. They see hotel workers with more money in their pockets as potential generators of local prosperity.
Since the 1980s approximately $750 million in public funds have been invested in making downtown Long Beach attractive to tourists and conventioneers. More than $100 million of that has been given to Long Beach hotels in direct subsidies. Yet these same hotels have not provided a public return on this investment in the form of good jobs. In a city with an average poverty rate of 18% over the past 30 years, that is a huge failing. Currently, wages for Long Beach hotel workers are among the lowest in the Southern California hospitality industry and among the lowest of any job sector in Long Beach.
On Labor Day weekend, workers and community supporters will speak in twenty-five Long Beach congregations about the Living Wage measure, describing the impact of these low wages on local families, and recruiting supporters and volunteers to win the ballot campaign. And then the work will begin to make Long Beach one of the 33 California cities to adopt a Living Wage Ordinance. Si se puede!