A California legislative panel yesterday approved a bill that would bar employers from threatening workers about their legal status when they file complaints with the state or try to organize. It's a big win for immigrant workers who speak out against wage theft and dangerous work conditions.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee approved AB 263, sponsored by Assemblymember Roger Hernández (D-West Covina). The bill would prohibit employers from asking for more paperwork from workers after they have been hired. Union-busting companies have been using this egregious practice — requesting additional paperwork — to intimidate employees and frighten them out of organizing or filing complaints.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is one of several unions wholeheartedly supporting this legislation.
Assemblymember Hernandez told committee members:
Immigrants are subject … to reprisal that results in removal from family and country. For these workers, the stakes are high and the need for protections are great.
Barry Broad, representing the Teamsters at the hearing, noted that the owners of Marquez Brothers cheese facility in Hanford intimidated one worker who testified before the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee last month. The company hired notorious labor-hating law firm Littler Mendelson to follow her and other employees who attended the hearing in Sacramento. The testifying employee, a mother of four, was later fired by Marquez.
Workers at the Marquez plant are in the midst of trying to get their first contract as Teamsters.
Brother Broad said the state capitol is “the temple of free speech.”
Yet they sent company representatives to stare them down. …That is what the workers face. They shouldn’t be able to do that.
Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) agreed.
It was callous, with no regard for what members of this body requested. These scofflaws treated these people this way. It shows it is a true reality.
This vote indicates that legislators are ready to push back against rogue companies that exploit workers and bust their unions. The Assembly Labor and Employment Committee will consider AB 263 on May 1.
This article originally appeared on TeamsterNation.