California's Unions Call In Their Markers

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California unions turned out tens of thousands of voters in the election, helping spur a Democratic triumph. Now they are calling in the chits to promote "a living wage" for low-income service workers. A new Los Angeles ordinance requires firms doing business with the city to pay $7.39 an hour with benefits or $8.64 without -- higher than the state minimum of $5.75. Now, in an effort that may be duplicated in other cities, pro-labor officials are refusing subsidies to developers who want to build big projects, including the Staples sports arena and a Hollywood theater-and-hotel complex, unless they agree to pay the higher wage to their waiters, janitors, hot-dog vendors and others. Last week even GOP mayor Richard Riordan, seeking a $12 billion airport expansion, gave in to pressure from a labor-clergy alliance and extended the living wage to 2,500 airport bag checkers and security guards.