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LAX workers allege concession contractor is violating ‘rehiring and retention’ law

Six LAX concession workers who were laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic have filed complaints against their employer, alleging the business has failed to re-hire them or was late in bringing them back in violation of California’s “rehiring and retention” law.

The employees, represented by Unite Here Local 11, worked for Hudson News, a chain of airport concessions owned by Hudson Group. They claim scores of co-workers with less experience have been called back to work while they have yet to reclaim their jobs or were late in being re-hired.

Senate Bill 93, which took effect April 16, 2021, requires hospitality employers to offer employees laid off due to the pandemic an opportunity to return to work in open positions for which they are qualified — in order of seniority.

That hasn’t happened for Marlu Lucia Prada, one of the six complainants. She worked at Hudson News at LAX since 2007 but was laid off in April 2020.

“For more than two years, I have waited to return to my position with Hudson at the airport,” said Prada, who was earning $19.50 an hour. “But instead of following the law, Hudson fired me and called back more than 100 employees with less seniority than me.”

Co-worker Daniela Cuevas, who also filed a claim under SB 93, worked at a Hudson warehouse in Carson before her layoff in March 2020. She was re-hired in July 2021, but noted that scores of others with less experience regained their jobs ahead of her.

“When I was rehired, the company had recalled at least 39 employees to associate positions who had less seniority with the company than me,” the 32-year-old Gardena resident said in the complaint.

In a Friday, July 8 interview, Cuevas said the experience left a bad taste in her mouth.

“It makes me feel a little disrespected,” she said. “I gave nearly 10 years to this company, but they just disregarded my seniority.”

Representatives with Hudson Group could not be reached for comment.

Enforcing recall rights

The complaints filed against Hudson represent the latest effort by hospitality workers to enforce their recall rights under SB 93.

In the first case under the law, the California Labor Commissioner alleged that Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes violated SB 93 by failing to recall, or to timely recall, 57 workers to their former positions.

In May 2022, the commissioner reached a $1.52 million settlement with the resort. The company also agreed to recall several veteran employees.

“Now, laid-off workers have the right to return to their pre-pandemic jobs and we expect Hudson News — and every affected employer in the state –to respect that right,” Unite Here Local 11 Co-President Susan Minato said in a statement.

SB 93 applies to the following:

—Hotels with 50 or more guest rooms

—Private clubs that operate a building or complex of buildings with at least 50 guest rooms

—Airport hospitality operations that provide food or beverages

—Airport service providers that provide services directly related to the transport of people, property or mail

—Employers that provide janitorial, maintenance or security services to office, retail or other commercial buildings

Cuevas secured unemployment benefits during the nearly 16 months she was without work but said she was on edge as things wound down.

“Toward the end it was stressful, not knowing if my benefits were going to run out,” she said. “My boyfriend was also laid off from a different department at the airport, but he didn’t get called back at all.”

Prada hopes to reclaim her job in the near future.

“With the backup of the union and the complaints we filed, I hope to be called back soon,” she said. “It’s sad. I gave up about 16 years of my life, my youth and my happiness for this job, and they called back people with lower seniority because it costs them less.”

Source: Orange County Register

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