(SACRAMENTO) – The California Labor Federation today applauded the Senate Labor Committee vote to advance AB 1577 (Stone), a measure that allows staff of the California Legislature to unionize. Today’s vote marks the first time a bill granting the right to join a union for legislative staff in California has passed a committee, signaling crucial momentum in the effort to give workers at the Capitol the same rights all other state employees enjoy.
On the heels of groundbreaking campaigns at the U.S. Capitol and in other states, AB 1577 allows California legislative employees to organize and join unions to improve pay and working conditions, and gives them a voice in decisions to protect their health and safety on the job and to fight harassment and discrimination.
“As a staffer of the State Assembly for seven years, it is incredibly meaningful to see AB 1577 advance out of committee today,” said Aubrey Rodriguez, Legislative Director to Assemblymember Alex Lee. “I came to Sacramento to pursue a career in public policy that advances equity and justice for all. While many have shared with me this career choice is honorable and a great sacrifice – being a public servant does not permit the state to exploit our passion for public service. All workers are entitled the right to unionize to ensure their workplace is sustainable and just.”
The State Legislature is the only branch of California’s government that does not allow workers to unionize. Because workers are unable to stand together in a union, they have no voice in their working conditions and are subject to low pay, discrimination, harassment and other abuses on the job.
“For far too long, legislative staff have been denied the fundamental freedom to join a union, a right all other state workers are granted,” said former bill author and incoming California Labor Federation chief officer Lorena Gonzalez. “With the wave of historic organizing sweeping across the country, it’s past time for the California Legislature to allow its workers the right to stand together in a union, if they choose. We deeply appreciate bill author Assemblymember Mark Stone prioritizing this critical issue and join him in urging all members of the Legislature to back this measure.”
AB 1577 will establish the Legislative Employer-Employee Relations Act, granting collective bargaining rights to legislative employees and providing oversight on employee relations. It also establishes a process for collective bargaining should legislative employees form or join a union.
“No worker should ever be denied the right to organize with colleagues to improve their lives,” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. “There’s a reason unions are more popular than ever. Workers all across the nation are demanding respect and dignity on the job. It’s time for California to grant this fundamental right to the legislative employees who work tirelessly to serve the people of our state. We thank the members of the Senate Labor Committee who voted in support of this measure and look forward to it becoming law.”