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HondaCenter2.jpgThe layoff of more than 500 unionized concession workers at Anaheim's indoor sports arena, the Honda Center, has become a bone of contention in the state's budget.

The Assembly's version of the budget contains language that would prevent Anaheim Arena Management, the city-owned Honda Center's operating firm, from claiming state enterprise zone hiring credits for replacing the workers with a new crew.

Three weeks ago, the company announced that it would lay off 500-plus concession workers that had been employed by Aramark, whose concession contract expires on July 1. Anaheim Arena Management, which is taking over concession operations itself, said it would hire replacement workers at wages ranging from $8 to $14 per hour.

The layoffs have sparked protests from United Here Local 11, the union that has been representing Aramark workers at the stadium, home to the Anaheim Ducks hockey team and site of many other entertainment events.

In support of the union, Assembly budget writers inserted language that would prohibit Anaheim Management from claiming hiring credits under the state's enterprise zone program. Meanwhile, however, Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a broader overhaul of enterprise zones to, he says, concentrate its benefits more narrowly on areas of high unemployment.

Brown's enterprise zone proposal looms as one of the most contentious issues in the budget as the June 15 deadline for its enactment approaches. It arose during Tuesday's meeting of the two-house budget conference committee without resolution.

The Honda Center management said in a statement that "our decision to take food service in-house was based solely on our relentless pursuit of giving our customers the very best entertainment experience possible. It had nothing to do with California Enterprise Zone tax credits, which we never had any intention of utilizing."

Editor's Note: This post was updated at 5:43 p.m.. on June 4, 2013, with the Honda Center statement.

PHOTO: The Honda Center in Anaheim, in 2009. Orange County Register/Miguel Vasconcellos



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