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Labor Ordinances To Be Drafted
For Airport And Convention Center

By Samantha Mehlinger - Staff Writer

November 19, 2013 – Two labor ordinances pertaining to future concessionaires at the Long Beach Airport and the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center are to be drafted by the city manager following Long Beach City Council approval on November 5.
The ordinances were proposed by 9th District Councilmember Steven Neal, who said, “We are in a unique position to continue being a leader for the future and guiding the way on jobs, which has been a focus on this council with its support of similar policies and programs such as the project labor agreement.”

One ordinance would require that all future concessions contractors at the airport and convention center “provide the city with a contractual assurance of labor peace.” To comply, concessions contractors would enter into agreements with their union workers to ensure that they would not strike or boycott in ways that interfere with city revenues. City Manager Pat West said at the meeting that concessions contractors operating before the security checkpoint at the airport employ union workers, while concessions contractors post-security do not.

Also to be drafted is a worker retention ordinance, which would require that future concessions contractors at the airport and convention center must rehire workers employed by their respective predecessors for an initial trial period.

A senior policy analyst specializing in the hospitality and tourism industries from Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Ed Gutierrez, told the council that assurance of labor peace is particularly important for these facilities because tourism is a major segment of the city’s economy. He said the city depends on “uninterrupted” business at the convention center and airport to support those industries.

Following public commentary, 3rd District Councilmember Gary DeLong asked a series of questions of both Neal and City Manager Pat West. Because the ordinances contained language in reference to unions, DeLong asked if concessionaires with non-union workers would be forced to hire union workers to comply with the ordinances. West responded that those concessionaires could meet the requirements of the ordinances without hiring union workers.

This apparently satisfied DeLong, as the ordinance carried without dissent, a result applauded by the audience.

Unite Here, a union representing more than 20,000 workers in the hospitality and tourism industries in Southern California, supported the worker retention ordinance, helping to organize speakers for the council meeting. Public commentary began with testimony from Bernice Prieto, a former Long Beach Airport concessions cashier who was laid off last December when concessions contractors changed. She pleaded for the council to approve the creation of the ordinance.

After comments from other workers laid off due to similar circumstances at the Honda Center in Anaheim and the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, the proposal to draft the ordinance passed.

Leigh Shelton, spokesperson for Unite Here Local Chapter 11, told the Business Journal in an email statement: “We are pleased and grateful that the Long Beach City Council took action to ensure that the airport and convention center have a stable workforce, even when subcontractor changes occur. Worker retention is a reasonable way to prevent unnecessary job loss.”

Randy Gordon, president and CEO of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, previously told the Business Journal that the chamber historically does not support worker retention or labor peace ordinances.

The city manager must return to the city council with a drafted labor peace ordinance in 30 days and with a worker retention ordinance in six weeks.