On January 12, 2021, the Santa Clara City Council voted unanimously to extend the city’s Right of Retention policy — a very significant protection for service workers who have suffered the most job losses in the pandemic.
In our personal injury practice we help survivors of serious injuries regain financial stability in their lives after they have lost the ability to return to their previous employment and their families are struggling to survive. For many there is no safety net. With the pandemic hitting a wide swath of service workers from restaurants, hotels and bars it is heart-warming to learn that one city council has taken steps to soften the blow of losing a job for workers displaced by the sale of a business.
The Right of Retention is excellent public policy, protecting people working in subcontracted service jobs. It ensures that they are given the option to keep their employment when a company switches contractors.
The protection of this law has been extended to hotel workers to prevent the loss of jobs when ownership of a company changes hands. Many businesses, especially hotels, seriously impacted by the pandemic, have been sold to investment firms at distress prices. Under this ordinance, the new owners are required to offer employment to service workers previously employed by the former owner’s contractor or subcontractor. This is significant job security for service employees so they can continue to support their families.
The right of retention concept first gained ascendancy when Intel’s cafeteria workers sought to form a bargaining unit. Intel responded by firing its cafeteria subcontractor and replacing it – a blatant union-busting attempt. That did not stop these workers from organizing, and eventually, they won a union contract providing improved wages and working conditions. And to make sure this did not happen again, they persuaded the city of Santa Clara to adopt a Right of Retention ordinance to protect people working in subcontracted service jobs.
The unanimous re-affirmation of the Right to Retention by the Santa Clara City Council is a powerful testament in support of service workers that should be made California law.
Kudos to Working Partnerships USA for advocating for these workers.
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