Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman has written a letter to Honda Center management asking that the more than 400 employees who are losing their jobs next month receive priority hiring as food and beverage services are moved in-house, among other requests.
At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Brandman read into the record his letter addressed to Anaheim Arena Management CEO Tim Ryan. Its other requests include a meeting among Brandman, the arena employees union representatives and Honda Center management, and allowing the new employees to use “card check,” whereby a union is formed when a majority of employees sign forms stating their desire to unionize.
Brandman’s letter requests a response from Ryan by Friday.
“I believe it would be productive for Anaheim Arena Management to consider hiring all existing Aramark employees for an evaluation period,” Brandman read from his letter.
Brandman’s letter is the first time a city leader has publicly entered the controversy over the layoffs.
The employees provide food and beverage services to the venue, which is home for the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League. The employees received notice last month that they would be laid off effective June 30. The arena’s management is bringing in-house its food and beverage services now provided by Aramark, and employees fear they will either not be rehired or be rehired at lower wages.
Suspicions grew over the arena management’s decision when Voice of OC reported that the layoffs make the company eligible for potentially millions of dollars in tax credits under the city’s enterprise zone program, which rewards companies that hire new employees who meet certain criteria.
After the article, the state’s enterprise zone advocacy group announced that it would lobby to close the apparent loophole that allows companies to collect tax credits by firing one group of people and hiring another. The arena’s management declared that it never intended to pursue the tax credits.
Employees and labor leaders in recent months have at protests and council meetings repeatedly called on council members to intervene, arguing that city leaders could pressure the arena’s management because the city owns the facility.
At the Orange County Labor Day dinner, Brandman was confronted by Ada Briceno, secretary-treasurer of Unite Here Local 11, which represents arena employees, and by Jose Moreno, president of the grassroots Latino group Los Amigos of Orange County. They asked Brandman, the only Democrat on the council, to help the employees.
“Apparently this is his reaction to the outpouring of support for the Honda Center workers from the community,” said Unite Here Local 11 spokesman Hal Weiss. “We’re certainly happy to see that he’s standing up for the workers of the Honda Center, and we expect that Tim Ryan will respond as Mr. Brandman requested.”
Anaheim Arena Management officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.