The Presidential election results raise many concerns about how Republican control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency will impact working men and women. However, in California, there continues to be a Democratic majority in the State Legislature and Governor’s office, and in recent legislative sessions, the Legislature and Governor have enacted important workplace protections for California employees. This year was much the same. With the strong efforts of labor unions throughout California, including the Teamsters, here are several new statutes protecting and assisting workers that will begin to come into effect starting on January 1, 2017:
The statewide minimum wage will be gradually increased to $15 per hour by 2022. The minimum wage is currently $10 per hour but will increase to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2017. Thereafter, the minimum wage will increase to $11 in 2018; $12 in 2019; $13 in 2020; $14 in 2021; and $15 in 2022. This important legislation will help approximately six million employees who currently make minimum wage or only slightly above the current minimum wage.
The “California Secure Choice Retirement Saving Program,” a 401(k)-type savings plan, will be available to almost all California private- sector employees who are not already eligible for a retirement program. This program will create an automatic, pre-tax payroll deduction from employee wages to be invested in a state-run savings plan. Employers with five or more employees that do not already offer retirement savings plans must make the program available to their employees. Employers may also make matching contributions. This is an important effort to ensure that many employees, currently not eligible for retirement plans, will have access to one.
The Legislature passed Teamsters sponsored AB 1669, which requires that bidders for solid waste contracts with local government entities get a 10 percent bid preference if they retain the employees of the prior contractor or subcontractor for a period of no less than 90 days. Often when local contracts for solid waste disposal change, the current workers are summarily laid off and replaced. This legislation is intended to protect the current workers by rewarding companies who retain existing employees and to give employees the opportunity to be retained or prepare for a possible layoff.
For years, farmworkers have had fewer overtime protections than other employees in California. Farmworkers only receive overtime after working 10 hours in a day or 60 hours in a week, when virtually all other employees receive overtime after working 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. AB 1066 corrects this injustice and unequal treatment by gradually changing the overtime laws for farmworkers, to ultimately ensure that farmworkers receive overtime pay after 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week by January 1, 2022.
The Governor signed legislation to prohibit employers from asking an applicant for employment to disclose information related to arrests or other criminal action when the applicant was a juvenile. The employer may not use such information in making hiring decisions. This legislation is intended to treat sealed juvenile records the same way that sealed adult criminal records are treated under the law and eliminate barriers to employment for juvenile offenders.
SB 1167 requires the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to propose a heat illness and injury prevention standard by 2019 to protect indoor workers from the risks of working in high heat areas.
This is just a sample of important legislative victories to protect workers in California. We look forward to further legislative victories for California workers in the years to come when the federal government is expected to strip away worker protections.
Beeson, Tayer & Bodine — Oakland: 510-625- 9700. Sacramento: 916-325-2100.