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Ordinance Protecting Laid-Off Workers at City Hotels is Approved

Published on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 | 4:39 am

The City Council on Monday approved an ordinance designed to protect hotel workers laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic – easing their road to rehiring once the economic crisis passes and the hotels begin reopening and staffing up.

By a 5-3 vote, the council OK’d the measure, which “establishes recall provisions for certain hotel workers who have been laid off and when there is a change of ownership or control resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The ordinance applies to hotels and public lodging facilities that have 50 or more guest rooms or had more than $5 million in gross receipts in 2019.

It includes, among other points, a right-to-recall element for displaced workers and a worker-retention clause — the latter to protect employees in the event of a change in control of a hotel’s management.

Such protections have already been formalized by Los Angeles County and the cities of L.A., Santa Monica and Long Beach. But those other ordinances are wider in scope than Pasadena’s. The city’s ordinance covers only hotel workers, while the other ordinances include workers at airports, commercial properties and events centers.

Councilmembers Gene Masuda, Andy Wilson and Margaret McAustin voted “no.”

Since this was the second reading of the ordinance, there were no comments from council members Monday, nor any further discussion of the matter.

Last month, however, Monday’s three “no” voters did detail reasons for their opposition.

McAustin, who actually abstained last month, had said that while she was “sympathetic” with the hotel workers, “I’m just not comfortable with us as a city government inserting ourselves between labor and management.’’

Wilson had said he was “generally reticent to be adding more responsibilities to the city … I want to be very cautious about expanding our scope into areas that I’m not sure we’ll be able to follow through on.’’

Masuda had questioned why hotel owners were being “singled out” when workers in other industries are also hard-hit. “Why are we forcing the hotels to hire these (employees) back?’’ he said. “That to me is a very important question, being an at-will state, and we’re forcing the hotel owners to do this.’’

“That is where I’m kind of having a difficult problem – with forcing hotels to bring their employees back and having no choice, especially when they’re saying (they are) planning to bring them back, and I believe them,’’ Masuda added.

The ordinance was also opposed by the hotel industry and the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce.

“The hospital industry is not struggling, it is withering,” wrote Paul Little, chamber president.

Per the ordinance, city staff will provide the council with a report as to the efficacy of the ordinance within 11 months of the lifting of the city manager’s declaration of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ordinance will sunset 12 months after expiration of the city manager’s declaration of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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