Will hotels use pandemic to bring in replacement workers?

Dozens of California Jesuits urge Governor Newsom to sign “Right to Recall” Legislation

America’s millions of hotel clerks, housekeepers, cooks and waiters have been hit harder than most by the pandemic. The vast majority have confronted pandemic layoffs, and the supplemental unemployment benefits that kept them afloat expired in July. Now they face a new threat to their economic security: the hotels may replace these career hospitality employees with lower-paid newcomers. Their union, UNITE HERE, is fighting to prevent this.

At issue is the employees’ right to recall by seniority. The career workers who built these hotel companies and made them profitable understand that the hotels are not in a position to employ a full staff during the pandemic, but they want to be rehired when the hotels resume operations. But the hotels refuse to commit to this and want instead to retain the ability to replace them with new hires.

That’s why the union has turned to state legislatures and city councils for action, launching a movement to codify seniority recall rights in law. The laws don’t require the hotels to hire workers they don’t need, but it does require them to offer any open positions to their laid-off workers before they consider new applicants.

The California state legislature has passed such a law, which sits on Governor Newsom’s desk awaiting a signature. In a powerful appeal to solidarity, dozens of Western Province Jesuits have signed a letter to Newsom urging him to sign the law and protect the dignity and economic security of these workers. Newsom, a Catholic and graduate of Santa Clara (a Jesuit university), has yet to respond.

Keep an eye on this space as events unfold!

6 replies
  1. Ellen Marshall
    Ellen Marshall says:

    The Archdiocese of Baltimore, as an historic supporter of unionizing, needs to lead the effort in the Maryland legislature. Create a coalition with the Episcopal Diocese and with Jewish hierarchy

    Reply
    • Mary E Kambic
      Mary E Kambic says:

      I would be interested in your sharing how the Archdiocese of Baltimore is a historic supporter of unionizing. Some of us have seen the archdiocese on the opposing side of this issue.

      Reply

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