California’s economy has rebounded and many areas of the state are booming. Yet workers are not sharing in the recovery.Finding a job may not be as hard now, but finding a good job is more elusive than ever. At a time of record prosperity, families are facing unprecedented levels of economic insecurity.
Corporations continue to find ways to break the social contract by structuring work to avoid responsibility for their workforce. The use of temporary agencies, subcontracting, part-timers and misclassifying workers as independent contractors—all of these methods serve to shield employers from their obligations to workers. Workers are more insecure as they struggle to make ends meet with multiple jobs and are forced to rely on the social safety net, at taxpayer expense.
The rise of the app-based economy has fueled this trend as more companies claim they are not employers but merely online platforms. They have exploited a business model based on misclassifying workers as independent contractors so that they can evade any responsibilities to their workforce, such as paying minimum wage or payroll taxes. Companies like Uber and Lyft exploit economic insecurity and the lack of stable, full-time jobs to ensure a steady supply of desperate workers willing to flood the market.
App-based corporations aren’t the only ones that treat workers as expendable. Across industries, employers no longer provide set schedules or guaranteed hours. Workers are called in “on demand” with no notice and no regard for other responsibilities, like child care or second jobs. As a result, families are forced to live in a constant state of instability.
Employer-sponsored health coverage once meant security for workers, but the rising cost of health care means workers are paying more for everything from premiums to prescription drugs. Health coverage no longer guarantees protection from high out-of-pocket costs and medical debt.
Labor’s agenda for 2016 aims to correct these growing injustices and rebuild a sense of security for working families.
– AB 533 (Bonta): Stop the shock of unfair health care billing.
Protect our members and consumers from exorbitant surprise bills for health care
services provided at in-network facilities by out-of-network doctors.
– AB 2261 (Hernández): Strengthen penalties for retaliation.
Authorize the Labor Commissioner to cite employers for retaliation against workers without having to go to court.
– AB 2870 (Thurmond): Limit forced arbitration agreements
in the workplace. California must do more to protect workers from being forced to sign away basic labor rights through employer sponsored arbitration agreements.
– SB 878 (Leyva): Give retail and restaurant workers the right
to a reliable schedule. Require employers to provide one week of advance notice of schedule and modification pay for last-minute changes.
Improve orientation and training for public service workers. Require public agencies to provide an orientation for new employees so they can learn about their responsibilities as well as their workplace rights.
– Strengthen labor law enforcement. Increase budget resources to the Labor Commissioner to help workers get wages paid faster and improve inspections of job sites.
– SB 1094 (Hernandez): Democratize the initiative process.
Require that those seeking to qualify ballot initiatives demonstrate an actual base
of support by using volunteers to gather at least 15% of signatures.
– SB 1010 (Hernandez): Rate review for pharmaceuticals. Require prior notice of rate increases for prescription drugs and greater disclosure
of the rising costs of prescription drugs.
– SB 1167 (Leyva): Heat stress protection for indoor workers.
Extend protections for outdoor workers to also protect indoor workers in hot
environments like warehouses, laundries, and kitchens by requiring CalOSHA to
develop an indoor heat standard.