Thursday, July 12, 2012

Freedom to Work Proposal Could Level Playing Field

Beurt SerVaas Public Assembly Room
at the City-County Building
On Monday, the City-County Council has a chance to strike a blow for freedom and equality in our city with the passage of the "Freedom to Work" proposal.

If you don't know what the proposal is about, indulge me for a few moments.

Imagine. You work for a company that has a contract to provide office or teaching or whatever services to several large companies in a given downtown area. You work long, hard hours perhaps even working through your lunch hour.  Your check is coming up a few hours short as well, but you're afraid to say anything because you know you have a job and are afraid of retaliation from your boss.  It's not so easy for you to just drop everything and try to find another job.  You feel trapped.

Good news, though. One of the companies that your company contracts with has a position that opens up. You are a well-qualified person for the job, and it offers benefits that you don’t have right now. You know that the job is a better one than you may have now, so you anxiously apply. 

Unfortunately, you are told you cannot apply for that job because you work for the contracted company. You must wait one year after leaving the contracted company before you can apply for the job.  Seem unfair?  Well, this is what’s happening in our own community to hotel workers. 

Proposal 179 is hoping to change all of that.  If passed into law, the ordinance would make it impossible for a hotel to obtain a license if they enter a contract and continue to allow the practices of these contracted service companies to continue.

Here is the exact wording in the critical portion of the proposal.
(c) As a condition of procuring an annual license and maintaining it after it is procured, the licensee or license applicant shall not be party to any agreement that prevents the licensee or license applicant from hiring employees of any contracting service at the hotel. Upon request, the licensee or license applicant shall present any agreement for contracting service at the hotel to the office of corporation counsel to ensure compliance with this section.

Council Republicans say that this dictates to a private business how they can operate. I honestly don't think that holds water for me. The way I see it, the proposal doesn’t dictate who the hotels can or cannot hire. It only levels the playing field for certain applicants that can really use it. Council Vice President Brian Mahern is the sponsor of the proposal, and the Democratic caucus is in favor. Mayor Ballard, however, could veto the proposal.

Supporters of the proposal are asking for people to attend the Council meeting on Monday in support and solidarity with the hotel workers in this city.  They ask that people attending who are backing the proposal to  wear red in support.  Meeting time is 7:00 p.m. at the Beurt SerVaas Public Assembly Room on the second floor of the City-County Building.


Abdul said...

Some of us said the same thing about "right to work".

Anonymous said...

It is a good idea on paper, and probably should be passed, but companies will find ways around it.

In IT consulting, some consulting firm/customer firm combinations have unspoken and unwritten rules against employee "poaching". There is no "rule" against hiring from each other, but it just somehow rarely happens.