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BREAKING: New Agreement on PAGA Reform Package to Preserve Workers Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Shubhangi Domokos, shubhangi@calaborfed.org/ (916) 934-6963

New PAGA Reform Package to Preserve Workers Rights

Sacramento, CA – (Tuesday, June 18, 2024) – California workers face a labor law enforcement crisis, with widespread wage theft, safety violations, and misclassification and few tools to hold corporations accountable. Business groups put an initiative in the November ballot that would repeal the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), stripping workers of the right to sue the boss when their rights are violated. The California Labor Federation is committed to preserving that law and to strengthening the state’s ability to hold bad actor employers accountable.

Today, we are pleased to say we have reached agreement with the California Chamber of Commerce on a series of PAGA reforms that will be enacted by the Legislature and will result in the PAGA repeal initiative being pulled from the ballot.

“We are happy to have negotiated reforms to PAGA that better ensure abusive practices by employers are cured and that workers are made whole, quicker,” said Lorena Gonzalez, principal officer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. “PAGA is an essential tool to help workers hold corporations accountable for widespread wage theft, safety violations, and misclassification. We appreciate the work of the Governor’s office and Legislative Leadership to help us reach agreement with the Cal Chamber of Commerce to protect this innovative law and strengthen labor law enforcement.”

These changes to PAGA are aimed at incentivizing employers to follow the law, come into compliance when they identify violations, and make workers whole. Since PAGA does not provide for wages, only penalties, these new provisions should result in workers getting better outcomes and in ending illegal practices. The PAGA reform package includes:

  • Adding injunctive relief to PAGA so that workers can successfully end wage theft and misclassification
  • Significant reductions in penalties for employers who take all reasonable steps to come into compliance before or immediately after a lawsuit is filed
  • A new process for employers with less than 100 employees who want to cure violations where the Labor Agency can determine whether the cure is sufficient
  • A new process for large employers where they can request an early conference to attempt to cure the violations
  • Lower penalty tiers for isolated violations that are remedied quickly and for paystub violations that do not prevent a worker from determining whether they are being paid appropriately or who their employer is
  • Emergency expedited hiring authority for Labor Agency to fill critical vacancies at the Labor Commissioner and Cal/OSHA.

It is essential to save PAGA and with this reform package, we have. Nothing in this bill will lessen penalties on employers who act willfully or refuse to comply with the law; in fact injunctive relief will allow us to more effectively prevent ongoing wage theft. But this is not enough to adequately protect workers rights in California. Everyday, farmworkers, janitors, hotel workers, and delivery drivers are cheated by companies that want to maximize profits on the backs on workers. The California Labor Federation will work with our unions, the Legislature, the Governor and all enforcement agencies to prioritize labor law enforcement and ensure that the laws we pass are more than empty promises.

The California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO represents over 1,300 affiliated unions in California with over 2.3 million union members in trucking, retail, hospitality, janitorial, construction, health care, local and state government, education, arts and entertainment, warehousing and logistics, manufacturing, and a variety of other sectors.

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