News & Commentary

November 12, 2023

Will Ebeler

Will Ebeler is a student at Harvard Law School.

In this weekend’s news and commentary: hospitality workers unions reach tentative agreement with Las Vegas resorts; Honda raises wages by 11%; Bangladesh increases minimum wage for garment workers; and Disneyland workers will receive a higher minimum wage.

Last week, two Las Vegas hospitality worker unions reached a tentative agreement with MGM Resorts International (on Thursday) and Wynn Resorts (on Friday). The agreement covers both Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165, both locals of the UNITE HERE union. The unions did not immediately disclose details of the agreement: the Culinary Workers Union explained it wants to “ensure unionized workers have the opportunity to see full details of their contract first and vote whether to accept it.” However, they did announce that the agreement includes “the largest wage increases ever negotiated in the history of the Culinary Union,” reduced workloads, improved worker safety protections, and increased technology protections. As Jacqueline explained last week, the unions on Wednesday reached a tentative agreement with Caesars Entertainment, another major hotel owner in the city. The unions had planned to go on strike if they did not reach an agreement with the hotels, and the tentative agreement with Wynn Resorts came less than three hours before the strike deadline.

Next, Bloomberg reports that Honda Motor Co. plans to increase its base wage for US employees by 11% starting in January. The pay increase is likely spurred by the recent contract agreement reached by the United Auto Workers. After its recent successes at US-owned car companies the UAW is trying to organize workers at the US factories of other car companies, including Honda and Toyota, another company that recently announced significant wage increases.

Bangladesh’s government announced last week that it would be raising the minimum wage for garment workers by over 50%. The minimum wage will increase to the equivalent of $114 per month starting on December 1, and will increase by 5% every year thereafter. The announcement came after a week of protests by garment workers calling for higher salaries. Two protestors died and dozens more were wounded by police responses to the protests. However, with inflation currently at 9.5%, some workers argued that the minimum wage needs to be higher to cover increases in the cost of living. And the new wage is still lower than that of other regional garment manufacturing centers such as Vietnam and Cambodia, both with minimum wages of at least $250 per month. In response to the wage increase, factory owners in Bangladesh said the increase would increase their costs by 5–6%, and the American Apparel & Footwear Association, an organization that represents many of the world’s largest clothing brands, said that they would commit to paying factories more to compensate.

Finally, workers at Disneyland will soon see an increase in wages and receive significant back pay. In 2018, voters in Anaheim, CA approved a ballot measure that increased the minimum wage at resort businesses receiving city subsidies. That minimum wage is currently $19.40 and increases each year with the cost of living. However, after Disney canceled two tax break agreements with the city, it (and the city attorney) argued that it did not need to comply with the minimum wage. Disney workers filed a class action in 2019 arguing that it was receiving other city subsidies and that it was therefore subject to the minimum wage. Last month, after the California Supreme Court declined to hear Disney’s appeal in the lawsuit, Disney agreed to comply with the Anaheim law. Some workers’ pay will increase by roughly 25%, and they will receive back pay.

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