Is is right and just for the government to force a private company to offer jobs to specific individuals who were never that company’s employees in the first place?
That’s the question at the heart of the lawsuit filed by UNITE-HERE Local 11, claiming Anaheim Arena Management (which operates the Honda Center) has violated the state’s Displaced Janitors Opportunity Act (DJOC) — or more accurately, the amendment dropped into the law by the legislature this summer that applies only to the Honda Center. This arbitrary, capricious legislation was pushed through by Assembly Speaker John Perez (a union staffer-turned-legislator) at the behest of UNITE-HERE.
If a businesses replaces one janitorial contractor with another, the DJOC forces the new contractor to hire the old contractors employees for at least 60 days. Obviously, this creates a disincentive to change janitorial contractors, and is a significant obstacle to any entrepreneurial soul who might want go from being employee to business owner by starting his or her own janitorial service.
The legislature’s amendment this summer extended that requirement to “every contractor that provides food and beverage services at a publicly owned entertainment venue” that is also located in a state Enterprise Zone. Guess how many venues fall within that definition? Only one: the Honda Center.
So now UNITE-HERE is suing AAM, claiming they are violating this new provision. I’m not sure how it applies to AAM, which isn’t replacing Aramark with another food and beverage contractor but providing that service directly, and the retention requirement of the code applies to contractors and sub-contractors and not the “awarding authority” (which is what AAM is).
But that is a matter for the lawyers and courts to sort out.
There are deeper issues at stake. One is that the UNITE-HERE amendment to the state labor code is unjust. Everyone was free to apply for food and beverage service jobs with Aramark. AAM offered interviews to everyone who applied. It hired a substantial number of Aramark employees — members of UNITE-HERE Local 11 — who had worked at the Honda Center.
It is critical to note that many Aramark staffers who had worked at the Honda Center did not apply for jobs with AAM. Yet, this union-sponsored legislation forces AAM to put on its payroll for 60 days individuals who had never been its employees and who either didn’t bother applying for a job or who were not hired in favor another applicant. That is unjust. Are job seekers who do not belong to UNITE-HERE Local 11 less deserving of employment than those who are?
That question reminds of us the emptiness of UNITE-HERE rhetoric about justice for workers or championing working people. That’s not what it is about. UNITE-HERE is a business. Its business is membership, and the dues those members pay are its bottom line. UNITE-HERE has overhead it has to meet and it needs dues revenue to meet it. UNITE-HERE could care less about individuals applying for food service jobs at the Honda Center who are not members. After all, the union supports a law that gives its members hiring preference over those who aren’t paying tribute to the union.
This is one of the central realities of this issue, along with what should be the extremely troubling prospect that a special interest (in this case, UNITE-HERE) can use the power of the state government single out a lone business and impose its will on that business. These have been totally absent from the media coverage, which is unfortunate given the deeper issues of freedom and the rule of law.
It also is directly relevant to the fight over single-member council districts. UNITE-HERE and its offspring, OCCORD have been at the forefront of fighting for their imposition. They do so in the belief it will lead to the election of left-liberals to the council who will then enact local versions of these sorts of coercive measures, and turn the city government into an enforcement arm of the unions — a painfully obvious reality that seems completely lost on those few conservatives who have signed on to single-member council district cause.