Hotel Trade Groups Fight L.A.’s Fair Wage Law

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Los Angeles’ fair wage law for hotel workers is “an insidious mechanism” aimed at helping organize workers “at all of the city’s hotels,” two hotel trade groups claim in Federal Court.
     The American Hotel & Lodging Association and Asian American Hotel Owners Association sued the City of Los Angeles on Tuesday, claiming the city ordinance is pre-empted by federal law.
     The lawsuit challenges the October passage of the Citywide Hotel Worker Minimum Wage Ordinance, which requires, among other things, that hotels with more than 150 guest rooms pay employees at least $15.37 an hour.
     The hoteliers, which call the law the Hotel Workers Act, claim that the law’s purpose is to “effect substantial interference with labor relations, collective bargaining, and union organizing within the hotel industry” in Los Angeles.
     Through the ordinance, the hoteliers say, Los Angeles has created “an insidious mechanism that improperly aids UNITE HERE! International Union Local 11 in its efforts to organize employees at all of the city’s hotels that have resisted unionization.”
     They claim that the National Labor Relations Act “prevents either labor or management” from using “political influence” to induce cities and municipalities to disrupt the “balance” between labor and management.
     “The city’s purported hotel workers minimum wage ordinance is preempted by federal law and, consequently, void and unenforceable,” the hoteliers say in the lawsuit.
     They claim that the law will cause economic harm to the hotels and their workers, forcing managers to cut costs by laying off workers or reducing their hours, which would be “contrary to the public interest.”
     They claim that the UNITE HERE! used its political influence to get city officials to agree to card-check organizing agreements. Such agreements preclude “government-supervised secret-ballot elections” on organizing, the groups say.
     In card-check agreements, a hotel will agree to union representation if a third party labor arbitrator tallies the number of “valid cards” submitted by a hotel’s workers and finds that a majority of workers approves of union representation.
     The hotel groups claim that card-check agreements violate employee’s “right to refrain from organizing,” and their “right to receive information both for and against unionization.”
     The trade groups seek declaratory judgment and an injunction. They allege violations of the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, the Contract Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, the Takings Clause, and similar violations of the California Constitution.
     They are represented by Kristina Starr Azlin with Holland & Knight.
     The AHLA is based in New York City. Among Los Angeles hotels that it represents are Ashford Hospitality Trust, Host Hotels & Resorts, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Today’s Hotel, Pyramid Advisors, Sunstone Hotel Investors and Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, and the chain hotels Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Intercontinental and others. Workers at its unionized member hotels generally are represented by UNITE HERE! International Union Local 11.
     Atlanta-based AAHOA represents more than 20,000 hotels, including many Los Angeles hotels with more than 150 rooms.

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