Assembly tables bill to protect hotel workers

Ryan Marcey, a front desk clerk, works in an empty lobby at the Hotel Captain Cook on Friday, April 10, 2020. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Assembly voted on Tuesday to indefinitely postpone an ordinance providing protections for hotel workers after several hours of public testimony against the proposed measure. 

The ordinance, which was put forth by Assemblymen Felix Rivera and Forrest Dunbar, would give hotel workers laid off because of the pandemic priority during re-hiring. A separate clause would require hotels changing ownership to retain existing workers for at least 90 days. 

Numerous hospitality workers, many in management or leadership positions, testified against the ordinance, arguing that it meddled in private business and was impractical to implement given the fickle nature of hotel staffing needs. Two union representatives called in favor of the ordinance, saying it would provide job security for service workers who are already vulnerable during the pandemic.

After two hours of testimony, Dunbar and Rivera argued to keep the bill but modify it to take into account the concerns of the public. Even so, the bill was tabled indefinitely with a 9-2 vote.