The state of California is poised to protect some of our society’s hardest working and lowest paid employees, whose families are most threatened by the COVID pandemic economic collapse. We are grateful that AB 3216 is now on the Governor’s desk.
We thank Governor Newsom for his unwavering support of workers. The five of us write as Mayors and Councilmembers of California cities which have already taken action. The hospitality industry and custodial/maintenance workers who need our support live in our neighborhoods. They work in our hotels, at our airports, in our office buildings, and keep all those places safe for the public, cleaning and sanitizing at risk to their own health and the health of their own families.
All they ask is that in this period of job uncertainty, they be provided basic job security and some assurance that any jobs lost to the pandemic will be there for them again when the crisis eases.
The hospitality and custodial/maintenance workers are the backbone of California’s economy, the fifth largest in the world. Yet they’ve historically suffered disproportionately in economic slowdowns, at the whim of companies willing to sacrifice loyal but low-paid workers.
Many of these workers are women, people of color, and the working poor, the very people who have the least financial protection against family catastrophes like housing loss after missing just one or two paychecks.
Our cities have already taken action to protect these hospitality and custodial/maintenance workers, and our protection of vulnerable workers has not harmed economic recovery. To the contrary, worker retention and recall policies have provided economic stability, avoided further disruption of local earning and spending patterns, and both reduced the negative impacts and accelerated recovery.
California can adopt worker-protective policy now, informed by our cities’ experience in past economic downturns. As long ago as 2001, right after 9/11, Santa Monica adopted the right of recall, a core protection under AB 3216. Then, as now, the hotel industry spoke out against the action, and then, as it will be now, the right of recall was a key tool for economic recovery.
More recently, in 2019, Santa Monica passed a worker retention ordinance, paralleling another crucial element in AB 3216. Several other cities here in Los Angeles County have followed suit amid the pandemic: the City of Los Angeles, unincorporated Los Angeles County, Glendale, Long Beach, and Pasadena.
We are the Mayors and Councilmembers of California cities. We see the economic suffering up close. We know the other tools to support our hotel, custodial, and maintenance workers are sadly limited. Financial subsidies for working families are in the hands of an overburdened state unemployment program and an unresponsive federal government.
The personal stories are heartbreaking. Oscar Melara worked at the Luxe Rodeo in Beverly Hills, until the hotel gave notice that they were closing, leaving him out of work after 39 years of service. At the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, Monaliza Rodriguez and Francisco Rodriguez-Gonzalez were fired with no recall rights after many years of service.
All of us know what it’s like to balance a budget during a pandemic, and all of us know that one of the only tools we have to help impacted industries recover successfully is to ensure that some of the most vulnerable, yet most experienced, workers have jobs to return to when the crisis subsides. Governor Newsom, thank you for your support of workers. We respectfully ask you to sign AB 3216.
Mayor Kevin McKeown, Santa Monica
Mayor Pro Tem Terry O’Day, Santa Monica
Mayor Robert Garcia, Long Beach
Councilmember Ardashes Kassakhian, Glendale
Councilmember Victor Gordo, Pasadena