Los Angeles City Council proposal may protect fired hospitality workers

The city council is expected to approve the ordinance on Wednesday.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The recent collapse of the Los Angeles hospitality industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is spurring a new ordinance designed to protect workers who lost their jobs in that industry.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council will vote on a measure that would require businesses in that industry to rehire based on seniority, hotel workers, janitors, security guards and certain airport employees who were let go due to the pandemic.

"It simply gives workers a basic level of respect," said Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez. "If you lose your job because of COVID-19, you will have a chance to get your job back when the business reopens."

Members of Unite Here Local 11 say they began fighting for the ordinance after the Chateau Marmont fired roughly 200 of its employees. According to Unite Here, the hotel management told the employees they could re-apply for their old jobs when the pandemic ends, but that they would lose their seniority.

"The fear is that the employer would bring in folks who have no seniority, who they could pay less, they have less vacations, less benefits," said Unite Here Local 11 president Kurt Petersen.

Eyewitness News reached out to Chateau Marmont's management for comment, but no one from the hotel got back to us before deadline.

Chateau Marmont owner Andre Balazs, started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the fired employees and donated $100,000 to the cause. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had raised roughly $165,000.

On the page, Balazs said he intends to recall workers as needed and possibly by seniority.

The city council is expected to approve the ordinance on Wednesday. It does not include restaurant workers, but Unite Here organizers say they will work with the city council to come up with protections for waiters, cooks and others in that industry as well.
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An emergency ordinance is now requiring large businesses in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County to provide 80 hours of additional paid sick leave for full-time workers who need time off because of coronavirus.

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