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The CalChamber's 'Job Creators' List

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California’s Chamber of Commerce is best known for its Job Killers list, which the king of business lobbies uses to scare off state legislators from passing laws that might, among other things, protect workers from wage theft or force oil companies to pay extraction taxes. (In reality, the Job Killers list is more of a bill-killers list.) But the CalChamber isn’t all about killing. Last week it revealed its kinder, if not gentler, side in the form of a Job Creators list. (Who knew?) The lawmaking season is still young, but already the CalChamber has begun identifying bills that it claims will allow more Californians to enter the workforce.

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  • AB 52  Disability Access Litigation Reform (Gray, D-Merced)

It’s not entirely clear what jobs, if any, would be created by Corporate Democrat Adam Gray’s bill, which would make it more tempting for a business to put off installing that wheelchair ramp that’s been required by federal law since 1990. The Chamber, nevertheless, claims the bill will “improve access for disabled customers and limit frivolous litigation against businesses for construction-related accessibility claims by providing an opportunity for the businesses to timely resolve any potential violations.”

Advocates for the disabled see it another way. The California Foundation for Independent Living Centers says AB 52 “is a bill that encourages businesses to ‘wait till they get caught,’ it lowers the cost of violating the law and protects so-called small businesses with budgets up to $10 million dollars.” AB 54  (Olsen, R-Modesto), which the Chamber says will “improve access for disabled patrons without harming businesses through frivolous lawsuits by providing businesses with a 60-day right to correct the violation,” got a similar thumbs-down. “Businesses,” the foundation claims, “do not need 60 more days to fix an access barrier, they have had 30 years!”

 

  • AB 588   Reduces Frivolous Litigation (Grove, R-Bakersfield)

By now you realize that the Chamber’s idea of the F Word (or, for that matter, the L Word) is something entirely different from most people’s. The Chamber assures that AB 588 “seeks to limit frivolous litigation under the Labor Code Private Attorney General Act, by allowing an employer a 33-day right to cure technical violations on an itemized wage statement that did not cause any injury to the employee.”

In other words, if your employer fails to explain your paycheck’s income figure or itemize its deductions, he will have 33 more days to get around to it. But the bill’s real mission might be to prevent employee lawyers from using paycheck complaints as an entry point to reviewing company books to find more serious labor violations.

 

  • AB 1038   Flexible Workweek (Jones, R-Santee)

Says the Chamber: “Provides employers with the opportunity to accommodate employees’ needs as well as business demands by allowing employees to request a voluntary, flexible workweek agreement that can be repealed by the employee at any time with proper notice.”

At the heart of this bill is an appeal to allow employers to pay straight-time wages to their workers, even if they work 10 hours in one day, assuming that they work fewer hours elsewhere. What, though, is to prevent bosses from pressuring employees to work 10 hours without overtime – regardless of how many or few hours they put in the rest of the week? In that scenario, the worker’s flexibility lies in whether he decides to quit or not.

 

  • AB 1252   Protects Businesses from Proposition 65 Lawsuits (Jones, R-Santee)

“Provides needed relief to small businesses by prohibiting a person from bringing a Proposition 65 lawsuit against a business employing fewer than 25 employees.”

The law currently excludes from Prop. 65 sanctions businesses with fewer than 10 employees. By jumping that number up to fewer than 25 employees, and by adding new legal requirements, Jones would make it more difficult to file legal action against a company that has exposed its employees to chemicals known to be carcinogens or associated with reproductive toxicity. AB 1252 itself seems to be regarded as toxic – last week the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee voted 5-2 to kill it. Like all classic monsters, though, this bill was not completely exterminated and may be reconsidered later this year.

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