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Governor Schwarzenegger signed four Federation-sponsored bills into law. In a year of tremendous hardship for working families, these bills represent some important gains for our members.
* Right for injured workers to see their own doctors – SB 186 (DeSaulnier). The right to predesignate and see our own doctors if we got injured on the job was going to sunset at the end of 2009. SB 186 makes predesignation a permanent right, allowing union members to continue to be able to seek treatment from their own doctors. Schwarzenegger's 2004 workers' compensation reforms allowed employers to create their own medical provider networks and force injured workers to see the “company doctor.” This bill was co-sponsored by the California Professional Firefighters and the California Teamsters.
* Car wash registry – AB 236 (Swanson). In 2004, the Legislature initiated a Car Wash Registry to assist in enforcing labor laws in an industry rife with blatant and widespread abuses of low-wage car wash workers. When workers rights were violated, companies would close up shop and reopen under new names to avoid liability. AB 236 extends the program that required car wash owners to register with the state and post a bond for another two years. This program has resulted in unprecedented organizing among car wash workers who want to make a better life for their families. It has also led to a significant increase in state enforcement activities to protect these vulnerable workers.
* Mortgage lending reform – AB 260 (Lieu). Union families have been hit hard by the foreclosure free-fall, triggered by unregulated, irresponsible lending practices. One of the most abusive practices was called steering, when families who qualified for lower risk loans were steered into subprime, riskier mortgages because the broker got a financial incentive for it from the bank. AB 260 bans broker steering, requires brokers to put the interest of the borrower ahead of their own financial interest, and prohibits some of the loan products that led to record foreclosure rates.
* Workers' Compensation Database – AB 483 (Buchanan). One of the ways unscrupulous businesses cheat is to go without workers' compensation coverage. This bill helps us crack down on that kind of fraud by establishing a publically searchable database of employers and their workers' comp insurer. The Department of Insurance will create this database by January 1, 2011. This bill will protect injured workers, responsible businesses, and the state from the costs of workers' compensation fraud.
Several other Federation-sponsored bills were vetoed:
* AB 838 (Swanson). would have required Cal-OSHA to develop a heat safety standard to protect workers in hot indoor workplaces.
* AB 943 (Mendoza) would have prevented employers from using credit reports to deny employment opportunities.
* AB 1276 (Skinner) would have required legislative approval before the Governor could bind California to international trade agreements.
* Health Care
* Paid Sick Days
* Economy and Budget
* Home Foreclosures
* Green Jobs
* Help for unions facing layoffs
* Municipal Bankruptcy
* Help for laid off workers
* Workers' comp enforcement
* Working conditions
* Worksite safety