LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday adopted ordinances aimed at protecting the jobs of hospitality, janitorial and tourism workers laid off amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“In the city of Los Angeles, you should not have to work your entire life to pull yourself and your families out of poverty into a good life, only to have it snatched from your grasp in a second, during a pandemic or otherwise,” Council President Nury Martinez said.  “Today’s vote tells (those workers) they are not dispensable, something to be tossed away.”

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Under the measures, businesses will be required to provide notice to workers that they have started the process of rehiring following pandemic-related closures. Laid-off workers will have 10 days to respond to worker recall notices, with those with the most senior workers getting priority.

“There’s temptation to hire people at minimum wage,” Councilman Bob Blumenfield said. “I think this is really important to protect vulnerable workers who have given years to the company.”

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Employers will have 15 days to respond to claims against them from employees who are not given ample opportunity to be rehired.

Businesses that change owners during the pandemic will have to give qualified laid-off employees a 90-day window to continue working for the business, after which a performance evaluation will be considered. When that period ends, the business will be able to consider whether that employee’s work has been satisfactory.

Councilman Paul Koretz said that under the new ordinance, businesses would rehire workers based on their experience within their sector. For example, a busser with more years of experience at a business would not be prioritized to be rehired as a chef.

Last week, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would sign the council’s worker protection ordinances as soon as they got to his desk, and in his Wednesday address, he announced he had signed the right-of-recall ordinance and worker retention ordinance into law.

“There’s no doubt that we will feel the impact of this pandemic for some time, and the road to recovery will be long, but it’s never to early to begin planning to put people back to work,” Garcetti said.

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The council also called for the temporary suspension of a state law that limits cities from controlling rent increases.

Citing “unprecedented unemployment and increasing debt” as the May 1 due date for rent payments approaches, the council members said 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act has prevented California cities from passing broad measures to freeze rents in place, even during an emergency.

“Costa Hawkins has kept cities like Los Angeles from protecting our tenants for too long,” Councilman David Ryu said. “In a pandemic, this is the least we can do. No one should face a rent hike during this emergency.”

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Ryu was joined by fellow council members Paul Koretz, Jose Huizar, Bob Blumenfield, Herb Wesson and Mike Bonin in sending a statement to the state legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom that asks for a temporary suspension of Costa-Hawkins.

The letter stated that no Californian should see a rent increase during the pandemic and cited data showing that by May, more than 2.8 million jobs would “disappear” from Southern California.

The City Council voted last Thursday to have the City Attorney’s Office draft an ordinance that would halt rent increases for units protected by the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance for 360 days.

Initially, motions were filed to put a temporary stop to rent increases on all residential rental units, not just the ones protected by the stabilization ordinance. However, Deputy City Attorney David Michaelson said that might not be legal under Costa-Hawkins.

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