California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have ensured that most of the laid-off hospitality workers would be first in line to get their jobs back once those industries started hiring.
When Newsom ordered people to stay home because of the coronavirus, California airports, hotels, event centers, and housekeeping services had to lay off many of their low-wage, mostly Latino, workers. The state legislature passed a bill last month that would require companies to offer those workers their jobs once they started hiring.
“I recognize the real problem this bill is trying to solve,” Newsom said in its veto message. But he said the bill is so broadly written that it would apply “during any state of emergency for all layoffs, including those that may be unrelated to that emergency.”
Furthermore, he wrote, the requirements “place too heavy a burden on employers,” who are also hard hit.
The bill was a priority for the state’s powerful unions, especially after Disney on Wednesday announced it would lay off 28,000 workers at its theme parks in Florida and California. But business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce, have said the bill would cost jobs by slowing companies’ efforts to reopen at a time when they are struggling to stay viable.
“We realize these are unprecedented times,” the House and a number of other business groups wrote to lawmakers last month. “However, it is vital to remember that many companies and their owners are themselves victims of this economic closure.”
Glynndana Shevlin, 60, says she has been working at the Disneyland Hotel for 32 years. He’s been on leave since April, living off unemployment benefits. On Wednesday, he received an email saying his job is in danger.
He said it was “heartbroken” that Newsom vetoed the bill.
“My life is a little bit insecure,” he said.
Newsom vetoed the bill as its administration slowly eased coronavirus restrictions for businesses. California has relaxed its stricter rules for 40 of the state’s 58 counties. On Wednesday, San Francisco allowed for the first time since March to return to indoor dining.
Since March, California has processed approximately 13.6 million jobless claims, paying $ 90.6 billion. The leisure and hospitality industry was the hardest hit of the state’s 11 industrial sectors, losing more than 600,000 jobs in the past year.