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Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA mayor’s race: Greuel wants $15 'living wage' for hotel workers; Garcetti won't commit on amount

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Los Angeles Mayor race 2013As Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel crisscrossed Los Angeles in search of support, many voters wrestled to decide between the two Democrats in this non-partisan race for mayor.

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel said over the weekend that she wants the city to impose a $15-an-hour minimum wage for all hotel workers in L.A.

“We want to make sure that all boats rise in the city, that people have the opportunity to afford housing and to be able to afford amenities,” Greuel said at a campaign stop in South L.A.

The city already requires hotels along Century Boulevard near LAX to pay workers a “living wage” of nearly $12 an hour. Greuel wants to expand that.

The public commitment appeared to be a new one, and came 10 days before Election Day in a tight race where labor union activists could play a deciding role. In fact, those activists over the weekend handed out a Greuel flyer saying she would increase the minimum wage for those workers.

Her rival in the race, Eric Garcetti, said he too supports a higher wage for hotel workers in the city.

“The more living wage jobs we can have, the better,” he said.

But Garcetti, who is supported by some labor unions, would not commit to the $15-an-hour figure for all hotel workers.

Greuel said she was unsure how many workers would be affected. She promised to work with hotel owners on the issues, but dismissed concerns that a citywide minimum wage would make L.A. hotels less competitive and hurt tourism.

“Everyone thought that would happen along Century Boulevard [when the city imposed a minimum wage at LAX hotels]. It didn’t happen,” the candidate said.

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce endorsed Greuel, in part, because business leaders believed she would be more cautious about extending minimum wage requirements. The endorsement came before her latest statements.

Over the weekend, Greuel and Garcetti traveled from one end of the city to the other in search of support.

Greuel’s schedule included stops at the Los Angeles Jewish Home in Reseda, Grant A.M.E. Church in Watts and Arts Delicatessen in Studio City – a “family tradition” on Mother’s Day.

Garcetti’s schedule included stops at a forum sponsored by the South L.A. Alliance of Neighborhood Councils and six church services.

After enjoying a 10-point lead, Greuel has caught up with Garcetti and they are running neck and neck, according to a recent poll. Garcetti blamed the shift in negative ads against him from Greuel and her supporters. He also said he wasn’t surprised.

“I always felt it would be a close race,” Garcetti said. “I’ve always anticipated this would be a one or two percent race.”

Getting supporters who may be unenthusiastic to vote is now one of the keys to winning. In political circles, it's called "GOTV:  Get Out The Vote."

“I know how important that is,” Greuel said. “You’ll see me in my jeans and t-shirt out there walking.”

Look for the air war to intensify in the coming week, as both sides and their surrogates spend big on television advertising.

In the latest infusion of cash, the labor union that represents Department of Water and Power workers pumped another $300,000 into their political action committee that supports Greuel. Its $2.1 million war chest makes the union the biggest player in the mayor’s race.

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