L.A. City Council Adopts Laws to Protect Laid-Off Workers After COVID-19

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council today adopted ordinances to protect jobs of hospitality, janitorial and tourism workers who have been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In the city of Los Angeles, you should not have to work your entire life to pull yourself and your families out of poverty into a good life, only to have it snatched from your grasp in a second, during a pandemic or otherwise,” Council President Nury Martinez said.

“Today's vote tells (those workers) they are not dispensable, something to be tossed away,” Martinez said. “Their work, their jobs and their seniority matters and the City Council and the city of Los Angeles will protect them.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week that he would sign the ordinances as soon as they got to his desk.

Under the measures, businesses will be required to provide notices to workers that they have begun rehiring people, after the coronavirus pandemic subsides. Laid-off workers will have 10 days to respond to worker recall notices from employers, and people who have worked for businesses the longest will be prioritized.

“There's temptation to hire people at minimum wage. I think this is really important to protect vulnerable workers who have given years to the company,” Councilman Bob Blumenfield said.

Employers will have 15 days to respond to claims against them from employees who are not given ample opportunity to be rehired.

Businesses that change owners during the pandemic will have to give qualified laid-off employees a 90-day window to continue working for the business, after which a performance evaluation will be considered. When the 90- day period ends, the business will be able to consider whether that employee's work has been satisfactory.

Councilman John Lee said he understood the need for the laws and said he supported them to protect jobs. He also said he hopes the tourism industry will bounce back soon. But in order for that to happen, Lee said hospitality industry must be allowed to run their businesses effectively and rehire accordingly.

Councilman Paul Koretz said under the new laws, businesses will rehire workers based on their experience within their sector. For example, a bus boy with more years of experience at a business will not be prioritized to be rehired as a chef.

Councilman Gilbert Cedillo said most collective bargaining agreements cover rights to protect workers within their area of expertise or training.

The definition of hospitality workers includes property managers and airport workers (outside airlines and rental car facilities) and workers at hotels with more than 50 guest rooms, or those that generated more than $5 million in hotel taxes in the last year.

Employers at convention and event centers or venues with 1,000 seats or more or larger than 50,000 square feet will also be required to provide their employees a chance to retain their jobs.

If a collective bargaining agreement is already in place between the employees and employers, the terms of the protection will be in place until the agreement expires. After that, employers would then be required to comply with the city's standards.

The laws will apply to businesses with 50 or more employees but exempts restaurants not owned by the hospitality industry.

The ordinances also exclude nonprofit institutions of higher learning that operate medical centers in the city of Los Angeles.

The Chief Legislative Analyst will report to the City Council and mayor before March 2022 on the effectiveness of the ordinances and recommendations for additional protections, based on the city's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo: Getty Images

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