MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo submitted a pandemic economic recovery ordinance for the county on Feb. 3, aimed at recalling laid-off county hospitality, restaurant and travel workers when the economy re-opens. 

The ordinance would request those recalls based on greatest length of service among laid-off employees. The proposal came with a one-month review time before response from the board of supervisors.

“What these workers need most is the promise of a return to their previous jobs when the pandemic recedes and business returns,” Alejo said. “This would protect their earned wages and benefits, and reduce their stress and anxiety. This measure will provide a strong message to thousands of hospitality workers that they are valued, respected and will get their jobs back, just as they were before this pandemic hit us.”

The ordinance, titled “Monterey County Hospitality and Travel Worker Right-to-Recall Ordinance,” would require an employer to offer their laid-off employees in writing all job positions that become available after the ordinance becomes effective, based on service length seniority.

Other local governments, including the Cities of Oakland, San Diego and Santa Clara, have recently approved similar measures to protect their hospitality, restaurant and travel-related workers. Monterey County, however, would be the first county in California to approve such a measure. 

“Monterey County has been a leader on many issues, but there are thousands of hospitality workers who are hurting, losing their homes and worrying whether they will even get their jobs back when our economy reopens,” said Hector Azpilcueta, union organizer with UNITE HERE Local 483. “Honoring the right to return by former employees will also speed the transition back to a functioning labor market and will lessen the damage to the Monterey County’s economy.” 

An estimated 25,000 employees in Monterey County were adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting shutdowns of businesses after health restrictions went into place. Hospitality and travel-related businesses are within the county’s second-largest industry.

“An employee recall ordinance would provide so much relief to thousands of hospitality workers who are worried about whether they will be called back to work,” said Bertrand DePrez, who has worked 38 years in hospitality. “We have dedicated our careers to hospitality and there’s no better way to show appreciation than by providing protections to ensure that we will return to our jobs just as we were before this crisis hit us all.”

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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