The Legislature and our Governor have settled into the 2019 legislative session poised to tackle some big issues. A good economy and the tight fiscal policies of the Brown administration have provided the state with a record surplus, resulting in lots of pressure to spend it on a variety of worthy policies. Expanded healthcare, child care, universal preschool, free community college, among many other things, are all on the agenda to put on the Governor’s desk. The question is, how much is Governor Newsom willing to spend.
Meanwhile, we have our own Teamster agenda to help our members in a variety of areas. To move that forward, we have sponsored a number of bills this year.
Ending Worker Misclassification
We are co-sponsor, along with the California Labor Federation and other unions, of AB 5 by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). This bill would extend the Dynamex decision across all of California labor and employment law. Dynamex was a unanimous California Supreme Court decision that made it much more difficult to misclassify employees as independent contractors. Misclassification has been a huge problem in many of our core jurisdictions like trucking and construction.
Keeping workers in public vehicles
We are also co-sponsor of SB 336 by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), which would require any public transit operator to have an employee aboard any fully automated vehicle it puts into service. As more and more employers look at automation in transportation, it is critical that we have forward thinking policies to not only protect the jobs of our members but also to protect the vital services they provide to the public.
Reinstating salary steps at CSU
We continue to work to support our members in higher education by co-sponsoring with CSUEU AB 369 by Assembly Member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego). This measure would restore salary steps for CSU support staff, which was unilaterally taken away by management 20-plus years ago. CSU members represented by Local 2010 deserve to be treated like every other state employee that has salary step eligibility.
Applying the labor code at UC
We are co-sponsoring a bill with the UAW to apply Labor Code protections to the payment of wages to the University of California. Currently, the university is exempt from most labor code protections and this has allowed them to get away with late paychecks and other wage violations. SB 698 by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Inland Empire) will hopefully put a stop to this dreadful conduct and, if it doesn’t, our members and other UC employees will have recourse.
More transparency in health care costs
The ever-rising cost of healthcare is a huge issue in our effort to ensure that Teamster members and their families continue to have high quality health benefits. We have sponsored a number of bills to address this issue in recent years and are doing so again in 2019. AB 731 by Assembly Member Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) would extend the states health insurance rate review law to large group health plans. The idea is to provide transparency to any proposed health plan rate increases that would allow the union and our employers to better negotiate plan costs. This has worked in the small and individual markets and it is our hope that, if the bill passes, we can see better results for our health plans.
Creating a better regulatory process in cannibis industry
We continue to work in the cannabis space as we try to create a better regulatory framework for organizing the industry. We are co-sponsoring two bills with the UFCW to provide more transparency in the regulatory process and to ensure that regulators have a specific time frame to require labor peace agreements.
There are many more issues we are working on and will highlight in future articles.