Oakland – Today the Oakland City Council unanimously voted to approve Councilmember Sheng Thao’s RIGHT TO RECALL ordinance which grants over 10,000 hotel, airport, and restaurant workers the first right of refusal for jobs from which they were laid off due the COVID-19 epidemic.
Once certain hotels, chain restaurants, event centers, and airport concessionaires begin to rehire laid off positions, they will have to offer laid off workers their positions before hiring new workers. This will protect older workers and workers who have stood up for their labor rights from retaliation via not being rehired for their old jobs.
“Tonight, the Oakland City Council voted thoughtfully and with a focus on equity,” explained Councilmember Sheng Thao, “many of these workers are our black and brown neighbors who have already felt the worst of this crisis. This measure will ensure they are protected from discrimination from unscrupulous employers, and have the hope of being offered their former position.”
Councilmember Sheng Thao continues, “This pandemic has profoundly impacted the health, safety, and prosperity of so many parts of our society. Some of our most impacted populations are employed by the hospitality, travel and restaurant industries. Many of these workers work low wage jobs behind the scenes, and we collectively take their work for granted. Many of these workers are women, immigrants, and people of color. These same workers were protecting us from the frontlines long before we understood the scope of this pandemic. And now that we have wisely limited travel to flatten the curve, many of these workers have lost their jobs. Laid off hospitality and travel workers are now more vulnerable than ever, because even as we begin to recover from this pandemic, they could be uniquely vulnerable to discrimination. As the hospitality and travel industries start to rehire, older, more senior workers who have earned higher wages could be skipped in the rehiring process. Further, workers who have filed previous complaints of discrimination or work place grievances may not be rehired in favor of a worker who is less likely to speak up. But I am proud that this City Council took the steps to protect Oakland workers from that risk.”
This measure was a collaborative effort between Councilmember Thao’s office, labor, community leaders and coauthors Councilmembers Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo. Throughout the legislative process Councilmember Thao ensured community and stakeholder input was taken and the measure best reflected the needs to protect Oakland workers who are most vulnerable, while ensuring it can be implemented responsibly.
“I strongly believe in a legislative process that includes as many stakeholders as possible,” states Councilmember Thao, “by working with a broad and diverse group of people, community groups, and my colleagues Councilmembers Kalb and Gallo, we were able to draft a measure that best serves the people and businesses of Oakland. I believe that this transparent and collaborative process made possible the unanimous passing of this important Ordinance.
This Ordinance will be on agenda for a second hearing on July 21st and if passed, will immediately go into effect.