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The Year's Top Five Legislative Victories for Workers





1. Protecting Families from Foreclosures. This year, California became the first state to enact reforms that ban the practice of foreclosing on a family seeking a loan modification (AB278, SB900). These bills also increased penalties for “robo-signing,” or the filing of false mortgage documents, and required banks to create a single point of contact for those seeking a loan modification.

2. Winning improvements for injured workers. California’s injured workers have suffered under slashed benefits and delayed medical treatment under Schwarzenegger reforms. Comprehensive workers compensation reform enacted this year (1) increases benefits for injured workers system-wide by $860 million or 30 percent, (2) cuts down delays in medical treatment, and (3) stabilizes the insurance market by removing inefficiencies and excess profiteering from the system. SB 863 earned strong bipartisan support and was based on Labor-management negotiations.

3. Building the High Speed Rail. As with any bold project, the voices of doom and decline said the high speed rail couldn’t be built. This year, the Legislature approved the needed state bond fund appropriations to draw down over $3 billion in federal funds to start this needed project. The high speed rail will not only build needed infrastructure, it will also create 200,000 new good jobs in construction, maintenance, and operations.

4. Protecting Good Jobs. Governor Brown signed significant bills to protect good jobs. AB 1855 (Torres) supports warehouse workers by prohibiting labor contracts in the warehouse industry that cause downward pressure on worker wages and conditions. AB 2508 (Bonilla) stops the outsourcing of state benefit call center jobs by requiring that the work is done in California. SB 829 (Rubio) prohibits charter cities from banning project labor agreements and AB 1565 (Fuentes) extends prequalification standards to school construction.

5. Cracking Down on the Underground Economy. The 2012 budget contained a $2 million dollar augmentation for the Labor Commissioner for misclassification enforcement as well as new funding to enforce prevailing wage laws. Governor Brown signed AB 1744 which helps protect temporary workers by requiring that their paystubs break down wage rate and hours worked by assignment and giving them client names and addresses. He also signed AB 1675, which establishes new civil penalties for unlicensed farm labor contractors, and AB 1794, which targets construction contractors who underreport workers to cheat on workers compensation coverage.

This post first appeared on CalLaborFed and is republished with permission.

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