2015 Victories to Ring in the New Year
Passing laws that help improve the quality of life for working families can be a tough prospect. Commonsense ideas that help workers thrive in our society – raising the minimum wage, ensuring all workers have access to paid sick days, over time pay, to name a few – have always faced incredible pushback from the very same corporations and their lobbyists who benefit from a shrinking middle class. Yet year after year, we see that when workers stand together, we can raise standards for all. Last year was no exception.
Throughout 2015, the California Labor Movement fought to even the playing field for all workers, resulting in many victories that will have a profound effect on millions across the state. From ending wage theft to an increase in the minimum wage to strengthening equal pay laws, 2016 will be a banner year for workers in California!
For starters, over one million workers who earn minimum wage saw an increase in pay on January 1st. The new minimum wage in California is now $10per hour and is the highest in the nation. As Margot Roosevelt points out in the Orange County Register, the increase will impact other workers, as well. With the new minimum wage, Roosevelt writes “workers must earn more for employers to exempt them from overtime pay. The new threshold as of Jan. 1 is $3,466 a month, up from $3,120.”
The California Fair Pay Act was also signed into law in 2015, providing the strongest equal pay protections for women in the nation. This law includes provisions to reinforce equal pay for equal work; requires employers to maintain records of wages and job classifications; protects workers from discrimination or retaliation if they seek out information about equal pay; and makes it illegal to prohibit employees from discussing wages and benefits with coworkers.
Below are all of the hard-fought battles won this year by the California Labor Movement, paving the way for future victories for workers in our state. Onward!
Highlights of victories for workers in the 2015 Legislative Session:
AB 219 (Daly): Current law on prevailing wage covers some ready-mix drivers while excluding others. This has made it hard for good union contractors to compete. AB 219 will expand prevailing wage to cover all ready-mix drivers.
AB 1509 (Hernández): AB 1509 will strengthen retaliation protection for workers in the subcontracted economy by holding a company liable if its contractors engage in retaliation.
SB 546 (Leno): SB 546 will require plans to provide our trust funds with information about rate increases to help us negotiate better rates for our members and union employers.
PROTECTIONS FOR WORKERS STRENGTHENED
AB 359 (Gonzalez): Will require that workers be retained for ninety days when grocery stores have a change of ownership.
SB 588 (de León): Will improve enforcement and collections efforts for workers facing wage theft by making employers with unpaid judgements post a bond and allowing the Labor Commissioner to file a lien on their property.
SB 730 (Wolk): Will protect worker safety by requiring that train crews have at least two workers.
RAISING STANDARDS IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
A package of bills advanced to the Governor to ensure a skilled workforce and protect public investment in infrastructure.
AB 566 (O'Donnell): Will mandate prequalification of contractors and subcontractors on K-12 facility construction projects above $1 million, require all lease-leaseback contractors and subcontractors hire a skilled workforce, and permit compliance requirements to be satisfied by a PLA with the skilled workforce requirements.
AB 852 (Burke): Will require hospitals electing to receive tax-exempt conduit bond financing from a public agency for construction projects to pay workers the prevailing wage.
AB 1308 (Perea): Will revise conditions for when the apprentice training needs of the building and construction trades justify a new apprenticeship program in order to protect existing programs that supply and graduate apprentices. (
AB 1358 (Dababneh): Will authorize and extend design-build authority for school districts until 2025, require contractors and sub-contractors to employ journeypersons who have graduated from state approved apprenticeship programs, and allow compliance requirements to be satisfied by a PLA with the skilled workforce requirements.
AB 1431 (Gomez): Will provide school districts that enter into Project Labor Agreements for all public works in excess of $25,000 with the ability to utilize an alternative bidding procedure known as Job Order Contract (JOC) and increase accountability, penalties, and reporting requirements.
IMPROVING TRANSPARENCY OVER PUBLIC FUNDS.
Several bills to protect the public interest when agencies contract out reached the Governor’s desk.
SB 239 (Hertzberg): Will increase transparency and oversight when a local agency proposes to expand fire service outside of their current service area.
SB 331 (Mendoza): Will extend audit and disclosure requirements applied to union contracts to all other contracts entered into by a local agency.
REGULATIONS IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.
AB 266 (Bonta)/AB 243 (Wood)/SB 643 (McGuire): Will regulate the medical marijuana industry and provide for good jobs with labor peace.
AB 525 (Holden): Will create new protections for franchisees to help improve standards in the fast food industry.