San Diego City Council

San Diego Passes Ordinance Requiring Hotels To Consider Most Experienced When Rehiring

The "recall and retention" ordinance ensures that those who demand higher wages due to experience have an equal chance when rehiring begins.

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The city of San Diego is now requiring that hotels must consider experienced hotel workers first when the time comes to replenish depleted staff levels caused by the pandemic. 

The San Diego City Council approved the “recall and retention” ordinance on Tuesday in hopes of helping those whose work experience could jeopardize their chances of getting rehired due to higher earnings they received before the pandemic struck. Other cities such as Oakland and Los Angeles have passed similar ordinances.

As reported by NBC 7 Investigates, the pandemic has left San Diego’s hospitality industry in tatters. Data obtained by NBC 7 shows the city of San Diego collected $345,580 in revenues from hotel and short-term rental guests during May 2020. The same month last year, the number was just over $21 million - a 98% year-over-year decrease. 

The drop in revenues for hotels has caused large and small hotels across San Diego County to drop the size of their workforce. 

Yet, hotels were not without some help. Data analyzed by NBC 7 Investigates reveals that a large number of San Diego County hotels received substantial payouts under the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

According to the data, 170 county places of accommodation received PPP loans in order to save a reported 13,040 jobs. In all, hotels and other accommodations received between $79,300,000 and $161,200,000 in coronavirus relief - the range is due to a decision by the Small Business Administration to only release a range of money that each business received.

For longtime hospitality workers, news of the ordinance passing provided some relief. 

Ines Garcia Villareal said she worked as a room service attendant at the Sheraton San Diego for the past 31 years. In June, she and 259 of her coworkers received word that they no longer had jobs.

“They said we are a family,” said Garcia-Villareal. “They lied.”

Added Garcia-Villareal, “We spend all these years there and it’s just crazy, sad, just terrible.”

Orfa Ortiz worked as a banquet server at the Marriott Marquis for the past 12 years before getting laid off from her job.

“It was devastating and I was in shock,” Ortiz said. “Where is my income going to come from? I mean, unemployment is going to run out. How am I going to support my kids?”

Ortiz said she worked hard for seniority on the job. Now, hearing she may be able to salvage all that hard work is very welcome news. 

“By passing this, it helps all of us, all of my coworkers, we’re going to have a job to go back to,” she said. “I have hope now, that I’m going to go back to a job and that they’re going to respect my seniority.”

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