Los Angeles, CA – Tourism workers, the unions representing them – SEIU United Service Workers West and UNITE HERE Local 11 – and LA City Councilmember Curren Price are leading efforts to raise wages to be commensurate with a world-class tourism economy and world-class city. The proposed ordinance introduced by Price on April 12 would raise the wage for tourism workers to $25 an hour in 2023 with plans to increase their pay to $30 by 2028.
“The living wage movement is a social justice movement where here in Los Angeles nearly 9 out 10 tourism workers are people of color,” said Councilmember Price, describing the urgent need for the new measure. “It’s appalling to think that while the tourism industry has its future growth secured, the workers that keep this major economic engine functioning, safe and profitable are fighting to keep a roof over their heads. I’m honored to lead this fight at City Hall and continue to work with the Tourism Workers Rising campaign so that no workers are left behind.”
Los Angeles is assuring future growth for the industry as it gears up to host global events like the 2026 World Cup and the 2028 Olympics. Meanwhile, wages aren’t enough to keep tourism workers housed, as Los Angeles grapples with an unprecedented housing crisis.
“LA’s tourism industry thrives on the hard work of its employees. But right now, minimum wage workers must work over 100 hours a week just to afford an apartment in LA,” Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky co-presented the ordinance. “It’s time to raise the wage and make sure that the people who make Los Angeles a world-class destination can actually afford to live here.”
“My rent is going up to $1,400, and I care for my adult son with schizophrenia. I’m worried because I don’t want to end up on the street like so many others in the city,” said Graciela Gomez, member of UNITE HERE Local 11 and housekeeper at the Four Points Sheraton LAX for 23 years
Many of the working people who are the foundation of L.A.’s tourism economy, working in L.A. hotels and at LAX, are struggling to survive on the city’s current living wage, facing housing and food insecurity, or are forced to work two jobs.
“A $25 minimum wage would mean we do not have to live paycheck to paycheck. We would be able to afford reliable transportation to and from work and pay our utility bills in full instead of little by little,” said Gary Duplessis, cook at Flying Food Group for six years.
“Hospitality workers who make the beds, cook the food, wash the dishes, and cater to the millions of guests that travel to Los Angeles will also be the ones who make FIFA in 2026 and the Olympics in 2028 successful. Yet, while we prepare to host the events that will showcase our city, we cannot forget about workers like Graciela, Gary, and all tourism workers across the city who deserve to make an Olympic wage to stay healthy and housed.” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11.
“The status quo at LAX is broken. The aviation industry receives billions in taxpayer dollars – including $54 billion of pandemic relief to big airlines and billions more in public funding for airports,” said SEIU United Service Workers West President David Huerta. “LAX is set to receive billions in investments to prepare for the World Cup and the Olympics. While corporate CEOs and airline executives are reporting record revenues, yet the very workers – mostly Black, Brown, and immigrant workers– who make their profits possible can’t afford to pay rent, pay for healthcare, and are forced to work two or more jobs to make ends meet. The City of LA can and must do better. We’re excited to launch the Tourism Workers Rising campaign to improve the working conditions at LAX so that all airport workers and their families have access to affordable healthcare and wages that allow them to thrive.”
“I struggle because it’s not easy working at LAX. Not only do I deal with health issues, my son does as well. In order to make ends meet and pay my rent, I work side jobs and I’m a cosmetologist in addition to working at LAX. All of that means sacrificing time with my son. LAX continues to grow, make money and receive billions of dollars in investments but workers struggle. When airlines received billions of dollars in bailouts, workers like me got a bailout in the form of hand sanitizer and a mask. We’re fed up, and we’re standing together to say it’s time to raise the living wage. It’s time for workers to matter,” said Jovan Houston, SEIU USWW Executive Board member and LAX customer service agent.
“As airport workers, we are exposed to threats on a daily basis – threats to our health, to our safety. We put our lives at risk every day in order to make LAX work. Yet, it has become increasingly harder for workers to make the rent, pay utilities or even buy basic necessities because our salaries remain stagnant. For decades, airlines have abused their influence to manipulate the system and prevent the progress workers need. Now, with the support of city councilmembers, we can fight for workers and raise the living wage,” said Oscar Antonio, SEIU USWW Executive Board member and LAX security officer.