California legislature approves bill requiring host companies to rehire displaced workers
Now that Gov. Gavin Newsom is letting more businesses reopen as coronavirus cases decline, the California legislature has passed a bill requiring certain hotels, stadiums and other hospitality companies to offer laid-off workers their jobs.
Hospitality businesses have been among the hardest hit with the stay-at-home state order, with no fans in professional sports stadiums, no travelers to stay in empty hotels and office buildings and abandoned airports requiring fewer janitors and food service workers.
Newsom has eased restrictions on coronaviruses as more people get vaccinated and the number of new cases declines. If things continue to improve, Newsom has said it will lift all restrictions on June 15.
As businesses prepare to return to normal operations, Democrats who control the state legislature have said they want to make sure laid-off hotel workers are the first to return to their old jobs. The bill requires hotels, stadiums and concierge service companies to notify their former employees when their jobs are available again and to give them five days to decide whether they want to return.
Democrats say the bill protects workers. State Senator Nancy Skinner, a Democrat from Berkeley, said women lost more jobs and left the workforce in greater numbers than men during the pandemic.
“So you could also consider this bill as a very important bill to bring women back into the workforce,” she said.
The legislature passed a similar bill last year. But Newsom vetoed it, saying it was too broad and placed too much of a burden on struggling businesses.
Lawmakers have made revisions this year to change the spirit of Newsom.
On the one hand, the new bill only applies to workers who had their jobs for at least six months before the start of the pandemic and who were made redundant specifically because of the pandemic. In addition, dismissed workers cannot sue to enforce the law. Instead, the labor standards division has “exclusive jurisdiction” to enforce it. And the bill will automatically expire on December 31, 2024, unless lawmakers agree to extend it.
Newsom has not said whether he will sign this bill. But lawmakers used the budget process to pass the bill, meaning the governor’s office was part of the negotiations.
The bill applies to hotels with 50 or more rooms and event centers – including stadiums, arenas, racetracks and convention centers – that have at least 50,000 square feet or 1,000 seats used for events. performances or public meetings.
Businesses that fail to comply could face fines of $ 500 per employee per day. MP Heath Flora, a Republican from Ripon, said most companies did not need to be forced to rehire their former workers, saying many would be eager to do so because those workers are already trained.
“But putting the burden, the fines, the costs, the responsibility on the employer is unacceptable,” Flora said Monday during a debate on the bill in the Assembly.
David Huerta, president of SEIU United Service Workers West, said out of 48,000 union members, around 14,000 had lost their jobs during the pandemic. He said these workers should not have to rely on the goodwill of their former employers.
“It is bills like this that help workers make sure they are part of the recovery as well,” he said. “The recovery cannot happen simply with a boost to the private sector without protection for workers.”
The bill is Senate Bill 93.
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