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`Living wage' law blocked

Judge sets a May hearing on whether to throw out the ordinance affecting pay at LAX-area hotels.

March 01, 2007|Joe Mathews | Times Staff Writer

A Superior Court judge Wednesday temporarily blocked a new law extending the city's "living wage" to workers at LAX-area hotels from taking effect until May at the earliest.

The ruling, by Judge Dzintra Janavs, came in response to a challenge to the law filed Wednesday by seven of the dozen hotels that would be required to pay all workers a living wage -- $10.64 per hour including health benefits -- under the new law.

An attorney for the hotels, Paul Gough, also represents four proponents of a referendum of a previous ordinance that also extended the living wage to airport-area hotel workers.

When that referendum gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, the council repealed that first ordinance and replaced it with a similar ordinance -- the one now being challenged in court.

Gough argued that by replacing one law with another that does the same thing, the council effectively violated the constitutional right to referendum of those citizens who signed the petition.

Janavs made no ruling on the substance of that claim, but she said that the hotels had made a "sufficient showing" that they would prevail while also noting that she thought the hotel workers might have deserved a raise some time ago.

Janavs' ruling merely blocked the legally required publication of the law, effectively freezing the enactment of a law that was signed by the mayor Tuesday. She set a May 11 hearing on whether to throw out the new law.

Deputy City Atty. Heather Davis offered no argument contesting the temporary stay.

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