Gov. Brown Signs Bill to Curb Abuses of Temp Workers
AB 1897 Holds Companies Jointly Liable with
Labor Contractors When Abuses Occur
Statement by California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski
California workers received a much-needed measure of protection tonight with Gov. Brown’s signature on a landmark bill to curtail abuses of subcontracted workers. AB 1897 is a historic new law that holds corporations accountable when workers hired using labor contractors are cheated out of wages or forced to work in unsafe conditions. By holding corporations jointly liable with subcontractors and staffing agencies, the governor closed a loophole in the law that many big companies were using to violate the basic rights of workers with impunity.
Labor laws have been slow to keep up with the recent explosion of the temporary workforce. Throughout the course of the year as AB 1897 was considered, scores of heartbreaking stories of worker abuse emerged. Large, extremely profitable companies like Taylor Farms and Walmart are abdicating their responsibility to protect those subcontracted employees who are doing the work of the business but are not treated with basic fairness. Under this new law, the practice of corporations ignoring labor violations committed against subcontracted workers won’t just be immoral, it will be illegal. Immigrant workers, who make up a large share of the subcontracted workforce, are especially vulnerable to exploitation. This law continues California’s national leadership on protecting the rights of immigrant workers.
The California labor movement applauds the governor and legislature for delivering on AB 1897, a historic law that should serve as a model for other states interested in protecting the fundamental rights of all workers, and supporting good, middle-class jobs that reduce income inequality.