ONEWhen the email hit, Diaz was home with her husband and children, announcing that Disney would lay off 28,000 workers. Diaz has been a housekeeper at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California for 19 years. Her husband Micael Diaz too. The next morning, the couple woke up at 6:30 a.m., got in their car, and sped north on I-5 to Sacramento.
“It was a shock – we didn’t expect it,” said the 48-year-old in Spanish. “But we said to our kids, ‘Hey, we’re going out there. We do this because we want to fight for ourselves. We need to make sure that our jobs are protected. ̵
By that afternoon, they had joined a dozen of their employees in a large trailer around the state capitol. Members of CLUE – Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice – had arranged a vigil for the whole night.
Governor Gavin Newsom had until midnight on September 30th to pass a bill that would determine thousands of jobs across the state. If passed, Bill 3216, nicknamed the right of recall, would give laid-off workers the first chance to be reinstated when their employers return to regular business.
Outside, the caravan marched around the building. “I see a lot of red shirts,” Diaz said, referring to her hospitality union t-shirts, Unite Here! Local 11. Some participants held signs that read “Support AB3216;”. One of them painted his car with the inscription “10 years of service!”. Other workers went on hunger strike in the two days leading up to the decision.
A hundred miles south in San Jose, California State Assembly member Ash Kalra had fasted for 48 hours. Kalra, who wrote the bill, hadn’t eaten since Monday night. “I fast in solidarity with our hotel employees,” said Kalra on the phone from his car on the way to the vigil. “It was an easy choice for me because they fast according to a bill I wrote. I can’t possibly have people fasting for my account unless I’m willing to do the same. “
He’s fasted before – last year Kalra and several other lawmakers celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Campaign for the Poor by not eating as many hours. However, this was his first hunger strike for a specific bill.
“I feel good about fasting,” said Kalra. “It feels better today than yesterday. The first day is usually the hardest part. I drank water so it’s not a complete fast. “
The bill, which both houses of California legislature passed, would apply beyond the recently laid-off Disney employees. It would expand protection for employees in hotels, airports, and event centers, as well as janitorial, security, and maintenance workers.
The legislation grants an additional 10 days of paid sick leave and provides for job-protected leave so that employees can take care of themselves or the family members affected by COVID-19. Several California cities have already passed versions of the law – including San Diego, Oakland, Santa Monica, and Los Angeles.
But the whole state is not on board. The California Chamber of Commerce put AB3216 on its annual list of “job killers” claiming the mandate: “It is a tedious and rigorous process for certain employers to return workers to the workforce, which delays hiring and brings employers to legal action for alleged errors . ”
“I will fast until the bill is signed or until midnight which brings it to 54 hours. But I hope to have something to eat before midnight …”
“It’s much easier to call something a ‘job killer’ than actually sit down and figure out how to save jobs,” said Congregation member Kalra. “It is literally a job saver because it ensures that these people’s jobs are saved. We don’t tell the hotels who to hire – these are people who have already had these jobs and were fired by anyone through no fault of their own. “
Outside the capital, Diaz representatives from several organizations sat at the vigil. The bill was supported by the ACLU, the California Work and Family Coalition and Jesuit West, who sent a letter to Governor Newsom earlier this week. However, it remained unclear how he would decide. “We don’t know,” said Maria Hernandez, a unit here! Representative. “We have to see. We didn’t hear anything. He has until midnight. “
“Nobody from the governor’s office spoke to us,” said Diaz. “At the moment we have already walked in procession through the whole capital. There are clergy here who support us and show solidarity. We’re only going to have a vigil all day today and all evening. “
If the governor does not sign before the deadline, the bill can come into force under a rule in the legislature. But it’s been years since a governor failed to sign a bill.
“I will fast until the bill is signed or until midnight, which brings it to 54 hours. But I hope I can get something to eat before midnight, ”Kalra said. “I don’t have any plans for dinner, but I have some snacks here – some trail mix and chips – so that when the bill is signed, I have things to eat quickly.”
As it turned out, Kalra didn’t have to wait long. Shortly before 8:00 p.m., he learned that Governor Newsom had vetoed the bill.
“Governor Newsom’s veto of AB 3216 is devastating news for the tens of thousands of workers in our state laid off during this pandemic,” Kalra said in a statement. “On a day when Disney announced the layoff of more than 28,000 employees and reports reported that California’s economic recovery could take at least two years, this seems like a missed chance for everyone to recover.”