Tag: recall

Tacoma hotel workers need COVID-19 job recall rights

Re: “Should laid-off Tacoma hotel workers automatically get their jobs back when COVID ends?” (TNT, 10/18).

To answer the question posed in this news article headline, let me simply say yes.

In my ministry as a Jesuit priest serving at St. Leo and Sacred Heart parishes, I have had the opportunity to meet with, and pray with, laid-off hotel workers here in our city.

In Tacoma, as in most parts of the country, hospitality and service workers have suffered tremendously from the crushing hardship of being laid off and without healthcare insurance during a worldwide public health crisis, through no fault of their own.

In the US, more than a million hotel workers have been laid off due to the pandemic.

Some among us may be blessed enough to only experience relatively minor inconveniences during the pandemic, either working from home or having the flexibility in our occupations to keep supporting ourselves and our families.

Now more than ever, we’re being made aware of the importance of our moral obligation to care for each other, to show solidarity, to act, and stand with our brothers, sisters, neighbors and friends who have been left vulnerable by the pandemic.

We need to consider who is most at risk. Recall rights for hotel workers are a racial equity issue. We know that service, hospitality and hotel workers in Tacoma comprise more women and men of color than our overall population.

Getting these hotel workers back to their jobs is just, is part of making sure every member of our community is part of our economic recovery and would be a tangible win for equity in Tacoma.

Recall rights for hotel workers also fight ageism. The median age for hotel workers at Tacoma’s biggest hotel is 44. One-third of the workers are in age groups which are at least four times more likely to be hospitalized and 30 times more likely to die due to COVID-19 compared to younger adults.

Some of these workers have devoted 20 or 30 years to their hotel jobs, to the point where it becomes more than a job; it becomes like family.

We can’t stand by and allow hotel owners to use the pandemic to disregard seniority when rehiring workers. This would potentially leave older workers without jobs and health insurance during a pandemic that is most dangerous for them.

Tacoma would not be the first place in the country to pass recall rights for hospitality workers. Los Angeles (City and County), Oakland, Long Beach, Glendale and San Diego have already passed such ordinances.

We have an opportunity and an obligation to act. Join me in calling on the Tacoma City Council to pass recall protections for hotel workers.

Father Matthew Holland is the pastor of two Tacoma Catholic parishes, where he’s served since 2018. Originally from Seattle, he’s a graduate of Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma and later taught social studies and religion there for three years. Reach him by email at [email protected]

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Tacoma explores required recall rights for hotel workers

Tacoma City Council is exploring an ordinance that would require hotels in Tacoma with 60 rooms or more to provide recall rights to workers laid off during the pandemic.

The proposed ordinance, brought to City Council for discussion at a meeting on Tuesday, would sunset in March 2021 unless extended by Council. It would require hotels to:

Provide written notice to laid-off employees of job positions that become available for which those employees are qualified, and

Offer available positions to the laid-off employees with the greatest length of service for the hotel.

City Council decided Tuesday to first run the idea through the Economic Development Committee to determine how the ordinance would impact workers and the hotel industry.

“It was sent to EDC because it wasn’t simple and begged for greater vetting and understanding,” said Council member Robert Thoms, who also chairs the EDC. “As we work to schedule discussions on this issue, I truly hope our hotels can effectively and safely reopen and our workers can get back to work.”

The proposal was brought forward by Council member Lillian Hunter after former workers at Hotel Murano, operated by Provenance Hotels, spoke at a City Council meeting on Sept. 22.

The workers sought the Council’s help to implement recall rights, which allow laid-off workers to be recalled to their former jobs when they become available. The workers, represented by Unite Here Local 8, had recall rights in their contracts, but they expired mid-September, they said.

“My family and I have counted on this Hotel Murano for my family’s second income,” Stephen Reeves, a 17-year banquet bartender at Hotel Murano, told City Council in September. “It’s just heartbreaking to hear what we are hearing about Hotel Murano’s desire to rid itself of all the experience that has made this hotel what it is.”

Unite Here Local 8 represents more than 100 workers at the Hotel Murano and is in support of the ordinance, and not just for its own unionized workers.

“We think a hotel recall ordinance is a fair proposition for workers and the industry to make sure workers get back to work as business starts to return,” Maris Zivarts, research director for Unite Here Local 8, told The News Tribune by phone Oct. 13. He added that workers will gather for a vigil at 7 p.m. Monday outside of Tacoma City Hall in support of laid off hotel workers.

Mark Filipini, outside counsel for Hotel Murano, told The News Tribune in a phone interview Oct. 15 that formal negotiations with the union representing the workers could take place in the next few weeks.

“When I talk to the HR director, and others, the employees are really well liked, they’re long-term staff,” Filipini said. “Yes it’s true the recall rights have expired, but I haven’t heard any plan to replace the employees wholesale or anything like that. I think they are an important part of the business.”

The state’s Employment Security Department in June first made public the

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