2015 Legislative Agenda

Working People Standing Together | Changing Lives

Download a copy of the Legislative Agenda (pdf)

For many families, times have never been tougher. Although California’s employment reports look good at first glance, far too many jobs are low-wage, temporary, and part-time.

Workers are insecure, and that makes it harder to enforce basic labor standards. The
expectation of a full-time job with benefits and long-term stability has been replaced by an economy where workers are treated as disposable. We face unprecedented levels of income inequality. California has the highest number of
“ultra high net” rich and the greatest percent of poor in America; one of every three workers is low-wage. While we are more productive, our wages have declined. Between 1979 and 2013, productivity increased eighty-nine percent. Wages for production work increased by only three percent.

California Labor intends to rebuild our economy. We will end persistent inequality and strengthen the ability of every worker to improve their workplace. We begin here – to expand and enforce basic worker protections, to invest public money in good job creation, and to correct soaring health care costs. When workers stand together, we can do more than just change conditions, we can change lives.

1. Protect workers and employers from rising health care costs.
Our members and our employers are struggling to maintain employer-sponsored coverage in the face of unsustainable cost increases. The staggering cost of health care is a major cause of labor disputes and an obstacle to new organizing. We must do more to contain health care costs and level the playing field. SB 546 (Leno) will require health plans and insurers to justify rates before they increase premiums for large employers and joint Labor-management trust funds.

2. Give workers a voice on the job.
We cannot combat inequality unless we give workers the tools they need to come together and improve wages and working conditions on the job. Instead, we are seeing workers routinely asked to waive their rights to state labor laws and even their ability to take claims to the Labor Commissioner. We must ensure that California does everything possible at the state level to protect workers who speak out about workplace injustices, especially those in the subcontracted economy. AB 465 (Hernández) will prohibit employers from requiring workers to waive basic rights as a condition of employment. AB 1509 (Hernández) will strengthen anti-retaliation laws for increased accountability in the subcontracted workforce.

3. Ensure public money goes to create good jobs.
Too many companies receive tax breaks and state contracts create low-wage jobs where workers have to rely on public benefits. That means taxpayers are subsidizing these major corporations not once but twice! We will work to ensure that state funds are invested in good jobs that rebuild our middle class and revitalize our economy. AB 219 (Daly) will close a loophole in prevailing wage law to cover ready-mix drivers on public works projects.

4. Improving quality public education and child care.
Few things matter more to union members than the opportunities they can give their children. It all starts with high-quality child care and access to good schools. Child care providers need a voice in the system to advocate for the families they serve and to ensure fairness in the system. We must also safeguard the public school system and ensure that charter schools are accountable to students and staff. SB 548 (de León) will give child care providers a voice. AB 787 (Hernández) will improve public accountability and clarify that charter school employees are covered by state law for purposes of organizing.

5. Help immigrant workers come out of the shadows.
We cannot win better working conditions for all workers until we can stop employer abuses of immigrant workers. The recent Executive Action by President Obama offers new opportunities for our unions to stand with immigrant workers to gain legal status and a voice at work. We will work with Cal/OSHA on a strategy to address the increasing workplace deaths and injuries for immigrant workers. We will also help implement immigration reform by supporting state investment for community organizations and unions to do outreach and education in their communities.

6. Direct state and federal workforce money to training that results in
good union jobs
This year, the Governor has proposed $1.2 billion to workforce development and career technical education, including increased funding to apprenticeship programs. With increased funding comes the need for stronger safeguards and standards to ensure that all training programs receiving these funds result in good jobs. We will work with our affiliates and the Administration to develop a plan for workforce development that helps fight inequality and rebuilds California’s middle class.

7. Fight for a budget that supports working people.
After years of deficits, Labor’s work to pass a majority budget and to win new revenue at the ballot has paid off. Now is the time to push for a budget that puts working families first, and:
• Oppose tuition increases and support good jobs for public colleges and universities;
• Protect overtime for homecare workers;
• Oppose high-deductible health plans for state and local agency workers;
• Protect the UC Labor Center.