California Governor Vetoes Covid-19 Right-to-Return to Work Law

Oct. 1, 2020, 4:27 AM

California workers who were laid off during the pandemic won’t be first in line to get their jobs back once the companies start to rehire after California’s governor vetoed a bill on Wednesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) rejected the measure (A.B. 3216) that would have required employers at hotels, event spaces, airport businesses, janitorial service companies, and certain other workplaces to offer newly open jobs first to the employees who lost them as a result of a declared state of emergency.

In his veto message, Newsom said the bill would place a heavy burden on hotels that have suffered financially during the Covid-19 pandemic. The measure, as written, would require the rehiring of workers regardless of whether the employee was let go as a result of the state of emergency.

“Tying the bill’s provisions to a state of emergency will create a confusing patchwork of requirements in different counties at different times,” Newsom wrote.

Hired employees’ personal information also would be at risk of disclosure under the bill’s provisions, he added.

The governor’s decision follows several days of labor union demonstrations calling on Newsom to sign the bill, and a message of support from California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D).

“This veto is devastating to the low-wage workers who built the hospitality industry, especially women of color, who were looking for a leader to walk with them through this time of struggle,” Ada Briceño, Susan Minato, and Kurt Petersen, the three co-presidents of Unite Here Local 11, said in a statement. The union represents over 30,000 workers at hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas, and convention centers.

Several California cities already have implemented these “right of recall” laws, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose.

The most senior employees would get first priority for jobs that reopen.

The law applies to employees who worked for six months or more in the 12 months preceding a declaration of a state of emergency, including the March 4 declaration for the virus.

The law affects employees who were laid off because of a public health directive, government shutdown order, lack of business, a reduction in force, or other economic reason.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Stecker in Sacramento, Calif. at tstecker@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Karl Hardy at khardy@bloomberglaw.com; Tina May at tmay@bloomberglaw.com; Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com

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