On September 10 Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1522 into law. The landmark legislation dramatically expands labor benefits for an estimated 6.5 million private-sector workers (including seasonal, part- and full-time employees), mandating they earn at least three paid sick leave days a year from their employers, effective July 1, 2015.
“AB 1522 is transformative,” the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), told Capital & Main. Gonzalez, who chairs the Assembly’s Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, added: “If you look back in history California has always led the way in furthering workers’ rights, from the minimum wage to an eight-hour workday.”
Before Governor Brown signed AB 1522, about 39 percent of the state’s labor force earned no paid sick leave benefits. As a result many workers faced two undesirable options when ill: Stay home and lose pay, or show up to work and expose others,
Politics is the art of compromise. On this note, Capital & Main asked Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) about the removal of 365,000 In Home Support Service (IHSS) workers from Assembly Bill 1522, the paid sick leave bill she authored. (See “Landmark Sick Leave Law Signed.”) The measure, signed into law September 10, grants this employment benefit to 6.5 million private-sector workers statewide. It takes effect on July 1, 2015. IHSS workers help the disabled and elderly with their daily household and medical needs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, nationally 93 percent of such workers are female, with 27 percent of them Hispanic and 18 percent African American.
“At the end of the day,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said, “we were forced to take that specific group out. “It was a condition of having the bill signed by Governor Brown. His view is that IHSS workers are in the middle of statewide bargaining,
Assembly Bill 1522, created to give all California workers at least three days of paid sick leave, passed the legislature Friday, but with a key change: In-home health-care workers who assist disabled and elderly Californians will now be excluded from coverage. The compromise resulted in two important union backers of the bill, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), to withdraw their support.
According to the Sacramento Bee, “The Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees abandoned the bill after it was rewritten to exempt home health-care workers.”
Another closely watched measure, Senate Bill 270, also passed its final hurdle Friday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The bill, authored by senators Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Ricardo Lara (D-Huntington Park/Long Beach), will ban single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and other retail outlets.
In a victory for public safety over private profitability, Senate Bill 1019 passed the state Assembly and Senate with strong bipartisan consent on August 27 and 28. Known as the Consumers’ Right to Know: Flame Retardants in Furniture bill, the measure – introduced by Senator Mark Leno, (D-San Francisco) — requires upholstered furniture manufacturers to disclose to consumers the use or absence of flame retardant chemicals on furniture labels.
“SB 1019 gives consumers what they have demanded for decades—the right to know what is in their furniture and the power to make an informed decision about whether to purchase it,” Leno said in a press statement.
Given SB 1019’s diverse support—from business associations to consumer groups, environmental organizations and labor unions—it appears likely Governor Brown will sign the bill by the September 30 legislative deadline, after which it would take effect January 1, 2015.
Getting business on board with SB 1019 proved to be a critical turning point for the bill.
Things are heating up inside the state Capitol in Sacramento. As an August 31 deadline for the end of the 2013-14 legislative year looms, union labor is facing off with business forces over the fate of pending laws governing pay, employee benefits and the environment.
A level playing field is not part of the lobbying landscape when it comes to swaying undecided legislators on these bills, said David Huerta, president of Service Employees International Union-United Health Workers West. Huerta told Capital & Main by phone that business lobbyists enjoy a two-to-one numerical advantage over labor representatives under the Capitol dome.
Huerta witnessed that dynamic first hand this pivotal week as business and labor interests met separately with state lawmakers over Assembly Bill 2416, the California Wage Theft Recovery Act.
Introduced by Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), AB 2416 would mandate local programs to allow employees to file liens against employers for unpaid wages.