Remember when the City Council got around that whole referendum thing by, wink wink, making a few changes to its living wage policy for the LAX-area hotels? It worked. A panel of the state's 2nd District Court of Appeal today upheld the new ordinance, meaning Los Angeles can go ahead and require that a dozen hotels near the airport pay their workers more than required at the city's other hotels. Those Century corridor hotels had been the target of a bitter union organizing drive. The hotel owners are apoplectic at the ruling, of course, but Mayor Villaraigosa released a statement:
"I am very pleased with today's Court of Appeal decision in Rubalcava v. Martinez. The Court correctly recognizes that the challenged ordinance, which was carefully crafted to respond to the concerns of the airport hotels as well as of the broader business community, differs significantly from the original airport hotel living wage ordinance.
I have always supported the alternative ordinance, which the Court upheld today, because it balances the right of workers to receive a living wage with the concerns and needs of business. I am proud of everyone -- the City Council, the City Attorney, and the labor and business interests -- who worked together with my office to create this ordinance, and I look forward to its implementation.
Hotel lobbyist Harvey Englander tells the Times, "We're considering a lot of options, including referendums, initiatives and appeals." After the City Council first passed the ordinance, the hotels gathered enough voter signatures to force a referendum. That's when the council, working with unions, cancelled the ordinance and wrote a new law to do almost the same thing. A judge ruled that gambit illegal, but the court of appeal today saw differently.