Honda Center Might Be Forced to Keep Laid-Off Workers

The state Legislature has adopted language that requires Honda Center management to pay hundreds of food and beverage workers for 60 days and then offer to continue their employment.

The move by state lawmakers comes amid an ongoing battle over the approximately 500 workers, who are set to be laid off and replaced when Anaheim Arena Management takes over food operations from a subcontractor at the end of the month.

The legislation, part of a budget trailer bill passed last week, is now before Gov. Jerry Brown for approval, according to a report in the Orange County Register.

The legislative action was set in motion in May after Voice of OC reported that Anaheim Arena Management would be eligible for millions of dollars in tax credits when it fires and replaces the workers.

The company is eligible to take advantage of the tax credits, because the Honda Center is within Anaheim's enterprise zone, a program designed to spur investment and job growth in economically depressed areas.

News of the tax break eligibility sparked a vow from the California Association of Enterprise Zones to close the loophole, and the controversy made its way into state budget negotiations.

Following Voice of OC’s article, Anaheim Arena Management announced it wouldn’t seek the tax credits and had never planned to. It had previously been silent on the issue.

Nonetheless, Assemblyman Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, introduced legislation that would prohibit the Honda Center from receiving the credits if the replacement workers are paid less.

Then the Legislature’s joint budget committee went a major step further, requiring the arena to pay current workers for an additional 60 days and offer them jobs, according the Register.

The new legislation, contained in Assembly Bill 76, requires the Honda Center to keep paying the existing workers for 60 days and then offer them jobs if their work is satisfactory.

If the Honda Center, which is owned by Anaheim, fails to comply, the workers would be allowed to sue.

The legislation achieves this by applying the state’s Displaced Janitor Opportunity Act to food and beverage workers who are replaced at publicly owned entertainment venues. The measure would be in effect through the end of 2014.

Anaheim Arena Management is controlled by Henry Samueli, the billionaire co-founder of Broadcom Corp.

While the arena has generated more than $200 million in revenue over the last decade, the city’s contract is structured in a way that allows Samueli's company to lease it for free.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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