The Phoenix City Council today will consider a package of ordinances targeting the city’s struggling hospitality industry with mandates on hiring, leave policies, cleanliness and more.
The ordinances are proposed by pro-union Councilmembers Betty Guardado, Carlos Garcia and Laura Pastor.
Branded as the “Phoenix Healthy Tourism and Hospitality Measures,” the three items contain a host of new regulations that the city’s tourism sector is concerned will harm an industry already reeling from the financial fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Included in the proposal are strict rules for employers regarding how and when to bring furloughed employees back on the job; how many square feet a worker may clean during the workday; the establishment of a “public hygiene training program” to be conducted by a third-party organization that will deliver no less than six hours of instruction and preside over an examination of hospitality workers; paid leave provisions that go far beyond anything already in state or federal law; and much more.
Kim Sabow, the president and CEO of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association, says the proposal will hurt an industry that has been the hardest hit during the pandemic.
“Now is not the time to be adding costly regulatory burdens on businesses that are trying to make payroll and keep their doors open,” Sabow said. “Each one of the items makes it more difficult for hoteliers and the rest of the hospitality industry to recover. We are extremely disappointed that the Phoenix City Council decided to fast-track a series of job-killing ordinances that will place onerous regulations and increase costs on an industry that is struggling to financially survive the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The ordinances will not apply to entities that enter into a collective bargaining agreement with a labor union.
Guardado is an organizer for Unite Here Local 11, a labor union for the hotel, airport and food service industry. The union’s political action committee supported Guardado’s successful 2019 campaign.
Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer says the union exemption sends the message that organized labor believes it is powerful enough to dramatically alter the business environment of the state’s largest city.
“If they can get away with this for the hotel and lodging industry, good luck for Arizona getting these great conventions. Good luck for great groups to be able to sell Arizona if we have those types of regulations,” Hamer said.
The proposal, which was only made available to the public for review on Friday, will appear before the Council without input from other councilmembers or from members of the affected industry.
“These proposed laws were only posted on Friday with no industry engagement or time to review. This is after the Arizona Restaurant Association had sent all members of the Phoenix City Council a letter seeking to engage in any process impacting the hospitality industry,” ARA COO Dan Bogert said. “This request was clearly ignored, and the plan is to push the ordinance through with as little public input and notice as possible.”
Hamer says the rest of the Council should strongly reject the proposed ordinances.
“It’s terrible process, terrible policy. It’s time for Mayor (Kate) Gallego and the Phoenix City Council to say no,” Hamer said. “Come on. In the middle of a pandemic to put this thing last second into an agenda, and then to have that exemption—give me a break.”
The Phoenix tourism industry is organizing its opposition to the proposal at savephoenixtourism.com, where users can send emails to their councilmembers to voice their opinion.
The Council will meet at 10:00 am today.