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.
California wage earners received encouraging news Wednesday when Assembly Bill 2416 (Wage Theft Recovery Act) cleared a major hurdle by passing 44 to 27 on an Assembly floor vote — three votes more than needed to move to the Senate.
The measure, introduced in February by Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), is modeled after a successful Wisconsin wage lien law. It is designed to tie off loopholes in California that currently allow unscrupulous businesses to evade paying monetary judgments to thousands of shortchanged, mostly low-wage workers by simply transferring ownership or even by declaring bankruptcy.
According to a 2013 study by the National Employment Law Project and the UCLA Labor Center, of the 18,683 workers who filed claims for unpaid wages with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) between 2008 to 2011, only 3,084, or 17 percent, recovered any money at all.
In 60 percent of those rulings,
The gaudy evidence of income inequality is all around us: stratospheric CEO “wages,” private plane shuttles to Coachella, gated enclaves and all the rest. But few things say “class war” more eloquently than wage theft, the practice by unscrupulous businesses of short-changing their employees by undercounting work hours or shaving off time for breaks that were never taken.
Wage theft is probably about a minute older than ancient history’s first labor handshake and partly exists because most workers who suffer it are too financially insecure to complain. Now, however, there is increasing pushback from some city and state governments, and from workers themselves –McDonald’s low-wage employees have filed class action lawsuits in several states to recover wages they allege were gouged from their paychecks.
In California, Assembly Bill 2416 (“California Wage Theft Prevention Act”), introduced by Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), seeks to curb wage theft by allowing workers to file liens against the real and business property of employers they claim owe them wages.