California’s Unions Lead to Pass New Pro-Worker Laws for 2020

California’s unions led the way in passing a host of new pro-worker bills that go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. These new laws, signed by Gov. Newsom, cement California’s status as the nation’s leader on workers’ rights.

As with every year, many of the bills unions fought to pass directly support all working people, not just those with a union on the job. And none of these victories could have been possible without the thousands of workers who advocated in their districts and in Sacramento to make these important bills the law.

Here’s a breakdown of the new laws to support working people, reduce inequality and make jobs better and safer throughout the state.

Improving Labor Standards & Supporting a Worker’s Right to Join or Form a Union

AB 5 (Gonzalez): Enacts the strongest law against misclassification in the country, ensuring that workers receive vital protections on the job including a minimum wage, overtime pay, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. Codifies the Dynamex decision’s ABC test for employment status for all state law purposes.

AB 51 (Gonzalez): Bans the practice of forced arbitration that silences workers and puts justice out of reach when workers are exploited and abused on the job. Prohibits employers from requiring workers to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of employment.

AB 378 (Limón): After decades of childcare providers fighting for collective bargaining rights, this bill allows childcare providers to unionize. Will give providers the stability they need to continue to offer high-quality childcare to California families.

AB 547 (Gonzalez): Requires Labor Agency to develop sexual assault and harassment prevention training for the janitorial industry.

Strengthen Worker Safety Net

SB 271 (Wiener): Guarantees State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave to California entertainment employees forced to work out of state.

SB 698 (Leyva): Extends Labor Code provisions requiring timely payment of wages to UC. Signed into law.

Create & Protect Good Jobs

AB 48 (O’Donnell): Authorizes a $15 billion educational facilities school bond to be approved by voters in 2020, with $9 billion to preschool-K-12, $2 billion each to community colleges, UC, CSU to modernize and build new facilities, with PLA preference.

AB 485 (Medina): Requires warehouse developers to disclose job quality information before getting local economic subsidies.

AB 1054 (Holden): Created additional safety oversight for utility infrastructure, recast recovery of costs from wildfire damages, and authorized an electrical corporation and ratepayer jointly funded Wildfire Fund to address future related wildfire liabilities.

AB 1290 (Gloria): Requires Project Labor Agreement on San Diego’s Pure Water project which will make up 1/3rd of San Diego’s water supply.

Protect Patient Care & Contain Health Care Costs

AB 290 (Wood): Rate-setting for large dialysis clinics with consumer protections for patients.

AB 731 (Kalra): Expands rate review for health care cost increases to lower health care costs for all Californians.

SB 227 (Leyva): Increases enforcement of nurse staffing ratios.

SB 343 (Pan): Requires Kaiser to report on their hospital financials and health plan actuarial data at the same level as other hospitals/health plans.

Protect Worker Health & Safety

AB 602 (Berman): Strengthens protections for actors against “deepfakes,” a digital or electronic misuse of their image.

AB 1124 (Maienschein): Creates a health and safety standard for workers in fire-impacted zones. Enacted via Cal/OSHA regulation.

AB 1400 (Kamlager-Dove): Requires Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation to study exposure to carcinogenic materials and occupational cancers in fire equipment mechanics. Signed into law.

SB 390 (Umberg): Provides basic training to part-time school security personnel regardless of the number of hours they work per week.

SB 542 (Stern): Creates a rebuttable presumption for peace officers that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is occupational injury covered by workers’ compensation.

Charter School Accountability

AB 1505 (O’Donnell): Gives more local control over approval process of charter schools.

AB 1507 (Smith): Prohibits a school district or county from authorizing a charter school outside its boundaries.

Social Justice

AB 392 (Weber): Prohibits law enforcement from using deadly force except when necessary, rather than simply reasonable.

AB 539 (Limon): Prohibits loans of $2500-$10,000 from charging greater than 36% interest.

AB 857 (Chiu & Santiago): Allows local agencies to establish public banks.

SB 206 (Skinner): Allows college athletes to earn money from their names, images, and likenesses.

Affordable Housing

AB 1482 (Chiu): Caps rent increases to prevent rent gouging and requires just cause for eviction.

As with any legislative year, there were some disappointments with some labor-backed bills vetoed or held in the legislature. Unions will be back next year with bills to lower health care costs, support good jobs in construction and other industries, hold corporations accountable and expand workers’ ability to form and join unions.

Congratulations to all unions and members who fought so hard to enact these hugely important new laws in California!