Pinoy hotel workers rally for higher wages

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Feb 22 2014 05:16 PM | Updated as of Feb 23 2014 01:16 AM

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 said it is difficult making ends meet, and he 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 said 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 said 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? All the communities around the airport are thriving because of the workers that live there.”

The Hotel Association of Los Angeles said 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.