Union Workers May Not Benefit from New Minimum Wage in LA

By now everyone is aware that the City of Los Angeles has raised the local minimum to $15 dollars an hour.  This was seen as a major victim for the city’s large number of working poor, and is one of the most progressive increases in the nation.  However, according to a recent news feature from the Los Angeles Times, union members who work are large hotels are one group that will not be seeing a nearly 70 percent raise in their monthly wages.

blue-calculator-1-1240990-298x300The reason for this is because they are members of a union and the job has been officially unionized because enough employees signed onto the union to allow the organization to have exclusive bargaining rights with respect to negotiations between the union and employer.

What is strange is that the unions who not only fought for the minimum wage increase in Los Angeles also worked to include the exemption pertaining to employees at a union workplace or union shop as it often called.  This at first seems counter-intuitive since having an exemption for their own members seems like it would hurt these members.  For many employees at these unionized properties, it does hurt very much.

The obvious question is why would these union leads have fought for such an exemption in a seemingly secretive manner so their membership would not know until it is too late.  The reason union organizers wanted to exempt their own membership was to create a system where non-union properties would have to pay their employers around $15 per hour and union shops would only have to pay their employees around $10 per hour.  While employers are normally leery of having union shops, but cannot legally challenge them, they may now be more open to having union employees since they can pay them less.  Basically, the union leaders are hoping the exemption will make the unions more appealing than unorganized labor for the first time in history from the standpoint of employers.

One employee interviewed as part of the article said he was expecting to make $15.37 or more as required under the new statute, but soon found out he was not eligible for the higher minimum wage since his hotel was a union property.  However, at the Hilton less than block way, those employees will be able to earn the higher minimum wage because that is not working a union property.  It appears that many union members are not happy to learn their union leaders lobbied for such a provision that literally took money from their pay checks.

One thing our Los Angeles employment attorneys have seen is that even regardless of the minimum wage, many employers will do whatever they can to avoid paying overtime and proper benefits.  If you feel your employer is not paying you the correct hourly wage or withholding benefits, the best thing you can do is to consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to make sure you get the relief to which you are entitled.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Unionized hotel workers balk at L.A. exemption that cuts their wages, April 9, 2016, LA Times, By Peter Jamison

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Top 5 Areas the EEOC is Pursuing Litigation to Protect Workers, Jan. 15, 2016, Orange County gender discrimination attorney blog