Pinoy hotel workers rally for higher wages

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Feb. 20, 2014

LOS ANGELES – Hundreds of hotel workers took to the streets in support of higher wages at all Los Angeles hotels.

Nico Quiapos who works at a hotel just outside of Los Angeles International Airport earns about $11 an hour. He says it’s difficult making ends meet and supports the city council’s proposal to increase the living wage to $15.37.

“Nowadays if you have a minimum wage of $7.75 how can you afford it so I think this is a good drive for us workers in the hotel to have a minimum of $15 per hour,” he explained.

After President Obama announced an increase in federal wages earlier this month, Los Angeles City Hall presented a living wage ordinance this week that would require hotels with a hundred or more rooms to increase the minimum wage to $15.37.

For Quiapos, his salary would increase by about a third.

“We need that extra $4 for our living benefits, because we have to have health insurance, dental, vision, that’s why we are raising up to $15,” said Quiapos.

Some neighboring cities and the Los Angeles International Airport have had living wages ordinances for several years. Eleanor Ramos, a server at the airport where the living wage is a $13 minimum, marched in support. She says she was making $7 per hour, but after they passed the ordinance over a few years ago, she is now at about $20 dollars per hour. She says better paid workers leads to better communities.

“Look how many communities get affected by the airport,” she explained. “A lot of people that work in the airport live in the communities surrounding the airport right. So all the communities around the airport are thriving because of the workers that live there.”

The Hotel Association of Los Angeles says it is unfair for city hall to put laws on a single industry.

They also expressed concern that a pay increase would force some hotels to cut staff and operations.

A city council hearing on the issue has been set for next week.

You can contact Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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