We’ve reached the close of another legislative session; and, despite some significant controversies and scandals, the Legislature managed to accomplish some big things this year. We have a new water bond for the November ballot that will address the drought and create jobs. We have regulation of groundwater for the first time in California history, which will mean a chance for reliable, clean water for some of the most economically downtrodden parts of our state. We also have Teamstersponsored bills on the Governor’s desk that will improve the working conditions and lives Californians everywhere.
As of the writing of this article, the 30-day period for the Governor to sign or veto bills was half over; and, coincidentally, we have had half our big bills signed.
Bullying: The Governor signed AB 2053 by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez, which we sponsored, to address some very troubling trends from supervisors at the University of California. Workplace bullying is an epidemic in this country and the UC has been plagued by managers who have developed abusive behavior into an art form. AB 2053 is designed to prevent this behavior from occurring in the first place by requiring supervisors to receive training on workplace abuse. It is our hope that this bill will not only help our members at UC, but also those in other employment settings.
Paid Sick Days: The governor also signed AB 1522, also by Assembly Member Gonzalez. This measure, for the first time, provides California’s workers with guaranteed paid sick days. Currently, 40 percent of the state’s workforce does not earn paid sick leave at work. This is a tremendous burden on these workers and their families. It also puts unionized employers that do the right thing at a competitive disadvantage. AB 1522 is a great start to evening the playing field and providing some minimum level of sick leave benefits so workers can stay home when they need to and be more productive on the job.
Film industry incentives: We are waiting for the Governor to take action on two very important bills. AB 1839 by Assembly Members Gatto and Bocanegra would more than triple the funding for California’s film incentive program. The film industry is synonymous with our state and provides a lot of good jobs to our members and to brothers and sisters in other unions. Over the years, we’ve seen film production leave our state for other jurisdictions that offered lucrative tax breaks to draw our jobs away. Now, we have had a successful incentive program going and we have the chance to make it an even more successful program if the Governor signs this bill.
Temp Workers: Lastly, we are pulling out all the stops to try to get the Governor to sign AB 1897 by Assembly Member Roger Hernandez. This measure would hold companies that use third party labor suppliers jointly liable for the serious labor law violations that their labor suppliers commit. This is a big bill that could dramatically change the landscape for workers in industries where the use of temporary agencies or labor contractors are prevalent. No longer could companies try to shield themselves from responsibility to their own workers, like we’ve seen at Taylor Farms, by simply using labor suppliers rather than having a direct relationship with their workforce. This scheme to avoid liability and unionization would no longer be as financially appealing if companies were held liable for the misdeeds of their shady contractors. Getting this bill through the Legislature with virtually every industry and trade group opposed to it was a substantial victory, but when the Governor signs the measure into law, it will be monumental.