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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Religious Leaders Gather to Protest Wage Law Proposition

October 24, 2000

SANTA MONICA — A group of religious leaders gathered Monday to protest Proposition KK, a controversial measure that would forbid the City Council from enacting a citywide wage law.

The measure is backed by the city's luxury hotels.

During a half-hour demonstration on the 3rd Street Promenade, representatives of the Christian, Jewish and Buddhist faiths quoted religious texts to demonstrate against the measure and support paying local hotel workers a living wage.

"This is not a new struggle," Santa Monica Methodist minister Sandie Richards said. "Our religious traditions really enjoin us to speak out against oppression of the workers."

Monday's action is one in a series of protests against Proposition KK by Santa Monicans Allied for Responsible Tourism (SMART), a group of clergy, union leaders and activists fighting to increase wages for local hotel workers.

They say hotels are misleading voters by touting Proposition KK as a "living wage" measure, when it would increase pay for as few as 62 city-contracted workers yet prohibit the city from enacting an ordinance that would benefit hundreds of others.

The hotels organized the Proposition KK campaign in response to a proposed citywide living wage ordinance that would require many businesses to pay more than $10 an hour. The proposed measure is backed by SMART.

Some hotel officials contend they already pay their workers more than $9 an hour, well above the state minimum of $5.75.

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