LONG BEACH — Hotel operators will have to pay employees more - or allow them to unionize - after Long Beach voters overwhelmingly passed Measure N Tuesday.
With all precincts reporting, 63.22 percent of voters were in favor of the so-called living wage initiative, according to unofficial results from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/Clerk's Office.
Christine Petit, a steering committee member with the Long Beach Coalition For Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, which sponsored the measure advanced by Los Angeles union forces, celebrated its apparent passage early Wednesday.
"It's a recognition that people who work hard in Long Beach deserve a wage that they can support their families on," Petit said.
Measure N would require Long Beach hotels with more than 100 rooms to pay employees at least $13 an hour. California's minimum wage is $8.
The initiative would also ensure that service charges are remitted to appropriate employees, give a minimum of five paid sick days per year to full-time workers and pay an automatic 2 percent annual raise to employees.
Measure N also includes a provision that drops wage mandates if hotels agree to enter into collective bargaining with employees.
The Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the hotels opposed Measure N, calling it a strong-arm attempt by labor to unionize in the city. They also said the initiative would burden operators and limit their ability to compete with surrounding cities.
Long Beach Chamber President and CEO Randy Gordon, a vocal critic of Measure N, said Wednesday that the hotels in the city are still recovering from the recession.
"I don't believe the residents really understood how negatively this measure will affect the hotel industry," Gordon said.
He predicted workers would never see their wages rise to the stated rate because the hotels will enter into bargaining with employees first.
Supporters, including six members of the Long Beach City Council, said workers find it hard to pay living expenses on the wages paid by their employers, and that the hotels receive large subsidies.
More than $500,000 was raised to support Measure N, the majority from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.
Renaissance Hotel, Residence Inn by Marriott and Ruffin Hotels were among the big opposition contributors, pushing the side's total to about $400,000.
The County Clerk's Office has until Dec. 7 to certify the vote.
The Long Beach City Council will then adopt the measure at its next meeting, which City Clerk Larry Herrera said could be Dec. 11.
Measure N would take effect 10 days later, on Dec. 21.