Legislative Wrap Up 2016

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This year California workers had major and historic wins.

The passage of a $15 minimum wage put California on the leading edge of a national movement to raise wages. The enactment of overtime for farmworkers and permanent overtime laws for domestic workers were long overdue reforms that help some of the lowest wage workers in the state build a better life for their families. These new laws will make a real difference in the lives of millions. We also took on some of the most powerful statewide interests. Working with CWA, we stopped an AT&T bill that would have cost the labor movement good jobs and consumer protections, but Labor’s bill to control the cost of prescription drugs for our members was stripped and made ineffective, reflecting the power of big PHARMA even in a progressive legislature.

As always, the mobilization of our members and the hard work of our unions were key to winning some significant new laws and stopping harmful takeaways. Our unions won new leave protections, worker retention, skilled workforce requirements, and regulations to improve worker and patient safety. Many of these bills also support organizing and help us build density, which will again be our priorities in the coming year. While we celebrate this year’s victories for workers, we’re focused on finding new ways to build power for our movement and strengthen the middle class.


$15 Minimum Wage – SB 3 (Leno). This year, California passed the most significant minimum wage increase in history, a steady climb from $10 to $15 per hour that included all workers in all industries. Nearly 6 million California workers will receive a raise, over 1/3rd of our total workforce. Already, more than 750,000 workers will reach $15 under local minimum wage laws. Workers will, on average, get a $3700 annual raise.     Signed into law

Farmworker Overtime – AB 1066 (Gonzalez). For 80 years, farmworkers have been among the only workers in California for whom the 8-hour day did not apply. This bill will phase in the 8-hour day over several years to finally give farmworkers the same protections as everyone else.      Signed into law

Preserve Overtime for Domestic Workers – SB 1015 (Leyva). Like farmworkers, domestic workers have been historically excluded from overtime, but won new protections in 2012. That law was set to end this year but this bill eliminated the sunset, making the protection permanent.      Signed into law

Protect Workers in the Janitorial Industry – AB 1978 (Gonzalez). Many fly-by-night janitorial contractors gain an unfair advantage over union contractors by cheating workers and dodging enforcement. In addition, women in this industry are at great risk of sexual assault due to working alone and at night. This bill will create a registry of contractors to improve compliance and enforcement of wage and hour laws and will also require additional training on sexual harassment and assault.      Signed into law

Wage Standards in UC Contracts – SB 959 (Lara). This bill addresses the University of California’s increased reliance on a contracted workforce by enacting some minimum protections to prevent downward pressure on wages and protect good union jobs at UC.      Vetoed by the Governor

Thanksgiving Holiday Pay – AB 67 (Gonzalez). This bill would have mandated that retail employers pay double time to workers on Thanksgiving.      Failed on Assembly Floor


End to Surprise Bills – AB 72 (Bonta). Our unions and health care trust funds reported to us that members using in-network facilities were getting hit with surprise medical bills from doctors. We spent a year negotiating with health plans and doctors to find a fair solution to stop surprise bills and ultimately passed the strongest law in the nation!       Signed into law

Control Prescription Drug Costs – SB 1010 (Hernandez). Our members, employers, and trust funds are spending far too much on the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. This bill would have required that drug companies give all purchasers 30-day notice before increasing the cost of a drug more than 10%.      Amendments imposed in Assembly Appropriations Committee stripped the bill

Regulate Observation Units – SB 1076 (Hernandez). Observation Units (OUs) are areas of hospitals that are not subject to the same staffing, safety or billing protections. This bill regulates the use of OUs by hospital and requires nurse staffing ratios, notice to patients when they’re in an OU and clearly designated areas. Signed into law

Resolution Against Epi-Pen Price Surge – SJR 29 (Hernandez). The cost of the lifesaving medication Epi-Pen has gone up over 600%, making it unaffordable for too many families. This resolution urges the FDA to approve generic alternatives and calls on the state and federal government to do more to keep down prescription drug costs. Passed both houses; Resolutions do not require a Governor’s signature


Worker Retention in Solid Waste Contracts – AB 1669 (Hernandez). When contracts change at the local level, workers lose their jobs and their union. This bill requires contractors to retain the existing workforce for at least 90 days after the contract changes hands.      Signed into law

Right to Organize at Judicial Council – AB 874 (Santiago). This bill would have amended the Dills Act to confer bargaining rights to Judicial Council employees.       Vetoed by the Governor

Promote Women in Pre-Apprenticeship Programs – AB 2288 (Burke). This bill requires pre-apprenticeship programs in the building and construction trades applying for funding from the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA), to include a plan for outreach, recruitment and retention of women, and to incorporate the use of the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum.      Signed into law

Expand Skilled Workforce Requirements – SB 693 (Hueso). This bill consolidates several statutes that include the skilled and trained workforce requirements for alternative project delivery methods, thereby protecting existing Project Labor Agreements and those under renewal.      Signed into law

Add Skilled Workforce Requirements for Design-Build – SB 957 (Hueso). This bill provides healthcare districts with the authorization to use design-build so long as contractors and subcontractors at every tier hire a skilled and trained workforce to ensure maximum value for publicly funded infrastructure projects. Signed into Law

Build Infrastructure with Good Union Jobs – SB 831 (Budget Committee). In 2014, legislation authorized the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to construct a water transfer pipeline/tunnel between two lakes utilizing the design-build construction method with a Project Labor Agreement. This bill appropriates $10 million to the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to complete this critically needed project.       Signed into law

Climate Change Policy that Creates Good Jobs – SB 32 (Pavley) and AB 197 (Garcia). Against major industry opposition, Labor stood with environmentalists and communities activists to extend landmark climate change laws that have created hundreds of thousands of jobs.       Signed into law


Indoor Heat Standard – SB 1167 (Leyva/Mendoza). While outdoor workers have health and safety protections aimed at the excessive heat many work in, there is no similar standard to protect indoor workers in warehouses, laundries, kitchens, machine shops and other high heat worksites. This bill will require Cal/OSHA to develop a standard to protect indoor workers from heat stress.      Signed into law

Protection from Plume Contaminants – AB 2272 (Thurmond). This bill would have required Cal/OSHA to set a standard to protect healthcare workers and patients from plume airborne contaminants. Vetoed by the Governor

Improved Medical Care for Injured Workers – SB 1160 (Mendoza). Unnecessary utilization review, when an insurer reviews a doctor’s recommendation for treatment, has prevented many workers from accessing timely treatment. This bill removes delays to ensure prompt treatment for injured workers. Signed into law

PROTECTING WORKERS RIGHTS Prevent Worker Wages from Being Used Against Them – SB 954 (Hertzberg). This bill prohibits contractors from deducting a portion of the prevailing wage to fund anti-union contractor association efforts to undermine worker rights, wages, labor standards and project labor agreements. Signed into law

Restrict Age Discrimination – AB 1687 (Calderon). This bill prohibits a commercial online entertainment employment service provider from publishing information about the subscriber’s age in an online profile of the subscriber to prevent the use of age information in hiring decisions.       Signed into law

Protect Apprenticeship Wages – AB 1926 (Cooper). This bill ensures that apprentices dispatched to non-union contractors are paid properly even if a contractor does not use the apprentice for construction work, but requires the apprentice to undergo testing, added safety training, or any other pre-employment requirements. Signed into law

Greater Security for Part-Time Faculty – AB 1690 (Medina) and SB 1379 (Mendoza). This bill will create guidelines to provide greater security to part-time faculty who are otherwise treated as contingent workers with no guarantee of future employment. Signed into law

Paid Leave for Union Leaders – AB 2294 (Gomez). Currently in the state’s K-12 and community college systems, employees are routinely granted leaves of absence without loss of pay to serve as an elected officer of a union. This bill will extend those protections to employees of the California State University (CSU).      Signed into law

Protect Member Privacy – AB 2843 (Chau). This bill will update the California Public Records Act (CPRA) by extending privacy protection to employee personal cell phone numbers and birth dates and explicitly protecting the privacy of all public employees, not just state and school employees.       Signed into law

Anti-Discrimination in Charter Schools – SB 322 (Leno). This bill would have ensured that charter schools have nondiscriminatory admission policies, as well as suspension and expulsion policies that guarantee students appropriate due process. Failed on Assembly Floor

New Employee Orientation – AB 2389 (Cooper). This bill would have required that all new hires in the public sector get an orientation and that the union have access. Moved to Senate Inactive File


Require Real Base of Support for Initiatives – SB 1094 (Hernandez). Right now, our initiative system is overrun by wealthy individuals who have substituted paid signatures for direct democracy. This bill would have required that every initiative have at least 5% of signatures gathered by volunteers or activists. Vetoed by the Governor

Transparency Over Non-Profits – AB 2318 (Low). This bill will improve accountability and transparency of political campaign spending by publicly funded nonprofit organizations.      Signed into law

Ease Voting Restrictions – AB 1921 (Gonzalez). This bill will improve turnout efforts by allowing voters to designate anyone to return their absentee ballot, rather than just a family member.      Signed into law

Allow Public Financing – SB 1107 (Allen). This bill will help get money out of politics by allowing state and local agencies to adopt public financing of campaigns.       Signed into law


Retirement for All – SB 1234 (de Leon). This bill will allow more than 7 million private sector workers to participate in a state-run retirement savings program.       Signed into law

Unemployment Benefits for Summer Layoffs – AB 2197 (Garcia). This bill would have provided unemployment insurance benefits to classified school employees during the summer months when they are not working. Vetoed by the Governor

Parental Leave for Classified – AB 2393 (Campos). Classified school employees are not covered by State Disability Insurance (SDI) and cannot access paid parental leave under that program. This bill will allow them to use “differential pay” so they can take parental leave.       Signed into law

Study Benefit Denial for Homecare Workers – AB 1930 (Lackey). Homecare workers caring for a child or spouse in the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program are not allowed to contribute towards social security, Medicare, or state unemployment insurance (UI). This bill would have created an advisory committee to study the impact of the denial of these state and federal benefits on certain IHSS providers. Vetoed by the Governor

Improve Access to Medi-Cal Interpreters – AB 635 (Atkins). This bill will create a study and a pilot project to provide and improve medical interpretation services for limited English proficient Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Signed by the Governor

Extend Job-Protected Leave – SB 654 (Jackson). Right now, workers at businesses with 20-49 employees pay into the Paid Family leave program but cannot access the benefit due to employer size. This bill would have extended six weeks of job protected leave to bond with a new child.      Vetoed by the Governor

Tuition Waivers for Survivors – AB 2164 (O’Donnell). This bill clarifies that the existing tuition waiver for survivors of fallen firefighters and peace officers applies to job related illnesses like cancer, heart disease, blood borne pathogens and other illnesses.      Signed into law


Development By-Right Budget Proposal (Governor’s Office). This bill would have allowed developers to bypass all local decision-making and state environmental laws if they agree to include minimal affordable housing units in a development. This would take away power from workers, communities, and democratically elected leaders and given developers even more power.      Proposal was rejected by Legislature

Eight-Hour Day Takeaway – SB 985 (Berryhill). This bill would have allowed employers to form individual agreements with workers to waive daily overtime. Bill failed in Senate Labor Committee

Telecom Industry Deregulation – AB 2395 (Low). This bill would have stripped telecommunications companies of the obligation to provide landlines, eliminated core consumer protections, and led to the destruction of thousands of union jobs. Held in Assembly Appropriations Committee

Tesla Priority Regulation – AB 1108 (Burke). This bill would have given state preference to electric vehicles, i.e. Tesla, to the disadvantage of plug-in hybrids, fuel cell vehicles and any other technologies, many of which are good union jobs.      Author did not move bill

Strip Regulatory Boards of Power – SB 1194 (Hill). This bill would have given the Department of Consumer Affairs veto power over all decisions made by expert boards and commissions.      Author withdrew bill in committee in response to opposition