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The Dripby Mark Reutter5:56 pmDec 7, 20200

City Council passes two worker retention bills, overriding Mayor Young

Good news for thousands of laid-off hospitality workers

Above: Kris Burnett, pictured before City Council meetings went virtual, sponsored the two bills that overcame a mayoral veto tonight. (Ian Round)

The Baltimore City Council tonight overrode Mayor Jack Young’s veto and approved two bills providing relief for hospitality workers who lost their jobs during the Covid pandemic.

The Right to Recall bill requires hotels to rehire workers at the jobs they held before the virus struck, while the Employee Retention bill requires hotels and event centers to retain existing workers if the facility changes ownership.

Both narrowly met the threshold of 10 affirmative votes to override a veto, thanks to a charter amendment approved by voters last month. Previously, 12 votes were needed to override a mayoral veto.

A third attempted override – to change the name of the Columbus Obelisk Monument in Heinz Park to the Police Violence Victims Monument – failed on a 9 to 6 vote. That bill was championed by 3rd District Councilman Ryan Dorsey.

Three members – Eric Costello, Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer and Robert Stokes – voted “no” on all three bills.

Councilman Leon F. Pinkett III voted against the Right of Recall and Columbus name change bills. He was joined  by Sharon Green Middleton and Ed Reisinger on the name change bill.

Councilwoman Shannon Sneed abstained on the Right of Recall and Employee Retention bills.

“Some positive news”

Unite Here Local 7 hailed tonight’s vote as historic. “Finally, there is some positive news for Baltimore’s thousands of laid-off hospitality workers,” said Roxie Herbekian, president of Unite Here Local 7.

She singled out Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, sponsor of the workers bills, and Mayor-elect Brandon Scott for overturning Young’s veto.

Ray Moore, a banquet server laid off from the Baltimore Hyatt Regency, said, “it’s such a relief to know that they’ll be a job waiting for me when we reopen.”

End of an Era

Tonight was the final session of the 72nd term of the City Council. On Thursday, a new Council will be sworn in.

For two veterans – Mary Pat Clarke and Ed Reisinger – the session marked the end of many decades of service.

Both were hailed by fellow members at tonight’s virtual meeting as dedicated public servants.

Three others will be leaving the body – Bill Henry, who was elected City Comptroller replacing Joan Pratt, and Leon Pinkett and Shannon Sneed, who both ran unsuccessfully for City Council president.

The victor of the latter race, Nick Mosby, will be sworn into office on Thursday.

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