The Coast News Group
Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
The Carlsbad City Council approved to draft an ordinance requiring hotels with more than 200 rooms to hire back those employees who were furloughed after March 4. The item will come back to the council on Dec. 8. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Carlsbad advances Right to Recall ordinance for hotel workers

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include campaign donations from Bill Canepa, owner of Cape Rey Hilton, to Mayor Matt Hall. Additionally, the article clarified that Councilmembers Priya Bhat-Patel, Cori Schumacher and Councilwoman-elect Teresa Acosta combined have received “tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from labor unions.”  While Schumacher and Acosta have received the lion’s share of those donations, Bhat-Patel has received donations, albeit much smaller, from labor unions, including Service Employees International Union Local 221 ($175), Sheet Metal Workers Local 206 ($250) and Communications Workers of American Southern California Council PAC ($100). Additionally, Bhat-Patel originally reported a $1,207.16 donation from the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council on November 15, 2018. The donor name was later changed to Flip the Script – Women Who Change the Game Awards Celebration on the amended Form 460.

CARLSBAD — Workers at five Carlsbad hotels can expect their jobs to be secure despite furloughs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During its Nov. 17 meeting, the Carlsbad City Council approved 3-1 to draft a Right to Recall emergency ordinance requiring hotels with more than 200 rooms to hire back those employees who were furloughed after March 4. No other industries or employees working in the city are included in the proposed ordinance.

The item was brought forward by Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel after the City of San Diego passed a nearly identical ordinance in September. San Diego’s ordinance, which is set to expire next month, is also being challenged in court.

Bhat-Patel said it is an effort to protect furloughed employees with seniority, specifically women of color, who may be fired in the wake of the pandemic or rehired at lower wages and fewer benefits.

“Doing something for them to have a sense of security,” Bhat-Patel said. “Most hotels may be playing by the rules, but this is a safeguard. The sense of urgency is we want to make sure folks don’t continue to lose their jobs.”

The language of the ordinance, though, was crafted by a number of labor unions, according to a review of those ordinances and language presented in the Carlsbad staff report citing Molly Chase, chief of staff for San Diego Councilman Chris Ward.

The copycat legislation has been approved by the cities of San Diego, Oakland and Long Beach, along with the city and county of Los Angeles.

Bhat-Patel, Councilwoman Cori Schumacher and Councilwoman-elect Teresa Acosta, who will be sworn in on Dec. 8 to represent District 4, all participated in protests against the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa earlier this year. The rallying cry was “one job should be enough” and gaining a “fair contract,” according to a tweet on Feb. 5 from Unite Here Local 30.

Bhat-Patel and Schumacher did not disclose their participation in the rally during the meeting. Acosta, Schumacher and Bhat-Patel combined have received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from labor unions.

According to the ordinance, it protects any employee who worked a minimum of two hours per week for at least six months in the 12 months preceding March 4, when the State of Emergency was declared. It also protects seasonal employees, according to the staff report, but does not cover a manager, supervisor or confidential employee.

Additionally, the employer must contact those furloughed in writing and by email and text message, if the employer possesses such information. The employee has three days to accept or decline the position.

Also, should an employer decline to rehire on grounds of lack of qualifications, written notice must be provided within 30 days; keep all records of the employee for at least three years; and if there is a change in ownership, the new operators must follow the same regulations.

An employee has a right to sue if any of the conditions are violated. The ordinance would be in effect for 18 months after it adopted unless the council extends the date.

“These hotels have contributed untold millions of dollars to Carlsbad and to our quality of life,” said Bret Schanzenbach, CEO and president of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce. “How this might not be considered kicking them when they’re down? We’re passing something for folks who don’t live in Carlsbad, but against businesses operating in Carlsbad.”

Six individuals, all furloughed from Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, spoke in favor of the ordinance. They cited the need for security and concerns over the resort beginning to terminate employees as the pandemic continues. They said it gives the hotel an excuse to fire the higher-paid employees and replace them with cheaper labor.

Only five hotels — Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, Aviara Park Hyatt, Legoland, Cape Rey Hilton and Westin (Marriott) — in the city have 200 or more rooms. A statewide bill for a Right to Recall was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom this year.

Mayor Matt Hall, who voted no, said he wanted more time to flesh out the details of the proposal to include other stakeholders, such as hoteliers. Over the years, Hall has received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from hoteliers, including Bill Canepa, owner of Cape Rey Hilton, one of the hotels impacted by the ordinance.

Hall said he was uneasy having the city dictate to businesses their employment practices.

Hall also voiced concerns over the urgency of the ordinance, noting it is not likely hotels will have the ability to fully open for several months.

“What is concerning to me is I heard just one hotel,” Hall said. “I don’t know if this is site-specific or industry-wide. “The hotel industry is 20%-25% stress mode and (many are) in foreclosure. I don’t think it passes the fairness test.”

Councilman Keith Blackburn also stressed he would only support the measure if all stakeholders were allowed to meet with the subcommittee consisting of himself and Bhat-Patel. Bhat-Patel initially said it would be too cumbersome to include all the stakeholders in the discussions as city staff must ramp up the draft by Dec. 8.

She said she would include their thoughts and concerns during the item’s public comment portion of the Dec. 8 meeting and be sure to incorporate those thoughts into the final draft. Blackburn pushed for those inclusions and the council directed City Manager Scott Chadwick to include all stakeholders’ input.

10 comments

truth November 21, 2020 at 10:43 pm

It certainly seems that this story is worrying the members of the incoming ruling cabal, which is showing great talent for taking out of town special interest money. Reading the several frantic, almost manic replies to this story by their leading (anonymous) surrogate on here, redefines the term “whataboutism”. Deny, deflect, and attack seems to be the last refuge for this crew, except (of course) for the other weapon in the arsenal. That is when they deflect legitimate questions about their actions in a torrent of identity politics and false victimhood. In the meantime, stay tuned for the standard insulting and demeaning response by our resident shills.

recallcorischumacher November 20, 2020 at 5:11 pm

Addie (or should I say Kris W) has a lot to say. Here’s the bottom line – Government OVER-REACHING into our businesses is totally inappropriate. For Priya Bhat-Patel to suggest this is HORRID. Bhat-Patel – you will have no chance running against a true representative such as Pat Bates. Here is a suggestion for Priya – try to stick to local politics. We all know you aren’t serious about a senate seat. We all know you screwed things up by announcing your senate run. We all know – you could never bear to run – especially with such IDIOTIC ideas as this one. There is rumor of one recall happening in Carlsbad. Maybe this should garner another?
btw – Steve P – great UN-BIASED NEWS PIECE!

Addie November 19, 2020 at 2:46 pm

Steve,
One final point and then I’ll let this go. You’d be doing a great service to the Carlsbad community if you were to educate them about this process. First, how people donate not only on behalf of their business but also as individuals and executives (plus family members) in order to maximize their donations. Second, another little secret is that these same individuals and entities have donated to OTHER candidates and office holders in the past and then that money gets recycled when those councilmembers then pass on the money to other candidates whom they support. Michael Schumacher (remember him) and Packard have done this and they most definitely received donations from hotels and developers. Of course one can argue that “they all do it” but in this particular instance you’d be looking for specific money from specific donors (ie the hotels referenced in your story). If you care to take the time to dig into the details, enjoy. If not, enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Addie November 19, 2020 at 1:12 pm

Steve,
Since you brought it up, Matt Hall also took money from various executives of Azul Hospitality Group over the years. They are, I believe, the group behind the Westin. I just did a quick search and easily found over $2000 just from 2014. Likely there are more donations over the years to add to that. As I said, if you want to be fair, then we need to let people know ALL the pertinent information, right? I’ll keep digging. No doubt there’s more there.

Addie November 19, 2020 at 11:44 am

Steve,
Thank you for taking the time to report accurately and revise the story. It doesn’t take that much time and effort to do so especially since the information is readily available on the city’s website (if you know where to look). People can draw their own conclusions based on the information you provide, but it helps if the information is accurate to begin with. Not looking to start a fight. Just trying to make sure that everyone is treated fairly.

Tappleg8 November 19, 2020 at 10:03 am

No surprise here – bought and paid for by BIG labor. Really got to pay attention who you vote for!

Addie November 19, 2020 at 12:48 pm

By your logic then the $525 Bhat-Patel received means she was bought cheap. Maybe Tim Stripe and his buddies can complain that Matt Hall is overcharging!

Addie November 20, 2020 at 7:30 am

Just wondering, Tom, if you also consider Police and Firefirghters unions to be “BIG” labor. You support those, right?

Addie November 18, 2020 at 4:21 pm

Steve,
Again, to be fair, you might want to reconsider your wording as regards Bhat-Patel. I just looked over all of her campaign finance filings. She had what would amount to a few hundred dollars of what might be considered “union” money (some of which was in-kind donations). So to lump her in with Schumacher and Acosta, who definitely did receive support from unions is disingenuous at best and if one were to be cynical, perhaps a little bit deceptive. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on this if you make the edit because otherwise you’ve lost any claim to being objective and credible as a journalist. You might also want to remind your readers that you live in Carlsbad, right? Maybe even in District 2 perhaps? If you want to write editorials in your own name as a Carlsbad resident, by all means feel free to do so. But if this is intended as a news article, maybe try to keep it that way.

Addie November 18, 2020 at 3:48 pm

Steve,
To be fair, maybe you also ought to mention the tens of thousands of dollars the hotel industry here in Carlsbad has donated to Matt Hall. Tim Stripe “owns” Matt Hall. And for those of you who don’t know who Tim Stripe is, I suggest you peruse all the donations he’s made over the years to Hall then you’ll understand how true that claim is.

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