Spring has sprung and so has our legislative package. With seven sponsored bills, we are once again trying to address problems big and small that affect our members and their families. We hope to get all of them signed into law through the hard work of the legislative team, leaders, and the membership. These important bills, all in the beginning stages of the legislative process, are summarized below.
AB 219 by Assembly Member Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) would expand the prevailing wage to cover all delivery of ready-mixed concrete to public works projects. The bill will ensure that our members who make a vital contribution to the state’s infrastructure projects get paid the prevailing wage just like the other workers on the worksite.
AB 305 by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) would prohibit apportionment in the workers compensation insurance system based on gender. Under current law, women can be awarded less benefits when injured on the job based on a previous condition related solely to their gender, a pregnancy for instance. This unfair and discriminatory treatment would be outlawed by this bill.
AB 621 by Assembly Member Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) would establish a limited amnesty program allowing port trucking companies to reclassify their “independent contractors” as employee drivers. The bill would require the trucking companies to pay all back wages and taxes in return for relief from liability for statutory penalties. The goal of the bill is to get a quick reclassification of drivers in the port so that they can get the benefits of employee status, including joining a union.
SB 546 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would provide greater transparency for rate setting for large purchasers of healthcare such as Taft-Hartley Trust Funds and large employers as well as requiring prior approval of premium increases that exceed specified thresholds.
SB 599 by Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) would establish a 10 percent bid preference for any bidder on a service contract with a state agency to provide transit services where the bidder agrees to retain the employees of the prior contractor. This bill expands the existing bid preference program that has applied to local agencies for years. The idea for this comes from our members who lost their jobs at Hearst Castle when a nonunion contractor came in. Had this preference been in place, the union contractor would have retained the contract.
SB 686 by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) would give police sergeants employed by the University of California full collective bargaining rights. Local 2010, our UC local, is trying to assist these police officers who under state law have very limited collective bargaining rights as supervisors.
SB 730 by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) is a rail safety measure that would require the railroads to have at least a two-person crew on every train. That is currently the status quo, however, we know that the rail employers want to reduce crew size so they can line their pockets with more profits. Unfortunately, that would put the public and our members in harm’s way as these trains are sometimes miles long and loaded with hazardous materials.