California Chamber of Commerce-opposed bills harmful to the economic well-being of employers, employees and the state remain in play with three weeks to go before the legislative recess.
The legislation includes proposals to limit technological development; force unionization on agricultural employees; interfere with the ability of hospitality employers to contract for services; hurt nonunionized workers in the garment industry; prevent thorough financial analysis of Cal/OSHA regulations; and upend the process that has allowed voters to serve as a check on legislative decisions for more than 100 years.
Under consideration in the Senate are:
• AB 1395 (Muratsuchi; D-Torrance), proposing to limit the technology necessary to reach our carbon neutrality goals by more than doubling our state goal while also imposing limits on technology-assisted carbon reductions, sending market signal to not develop carbon removal or storage technology. The CalChamber advocates setting the bill aside until the results of the 2022 California Air Resources Board (CARB) Scoping Plan are available, allowing evaluation of what a post-2030 climate goal might look like. CARB held the third of a series of technical workshops on the Scoping Plan this week.
AB 1395 was sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File this week pending a review of its fiscal impacts.
• AB 616 (Stone; D-Scotts Valley), a job killer that limits an employee’s ability to independently and privately vote for unionization in the workplace, by essentially eliminating a secret ballot election and replacing it with the submission of representation cards signed by over 50% of the employees, which leaves employees susceptible to coercion and manipulation by labor organizations. Also, unfairly limits an employer’s ability to challenge any order by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) by forcing employers to post an unreasonable bond, and then limits an employee’s ability to decertify a union, by forcing them to go through the ballot election process instead of submission of representation cards. Also includes an unnecessary presumption of retaliation that is effectively unlimited in scope because it would apply for the duration of an election campaign, which could last for a year or more.
AB 616 awaits action by the full Senate.
• AB 1074 (Lorena Gonzalez; D-San Diego), prior to amendments, would have imposed an onerous and stringent process that is unlimited in time for specific employers to return employees to the workforce for specified industries, including hotels and restaurants that have been disproportionally impacted by this pandemic, which would have delayed rehiring and employers’ ability to reopen after being forced to close or reduce operations due to COVID-19. Job killer tag removed due to April 19, 2021 amendments eliminating COVID-19 related recall provisions from the bill.
AB 1074 still has the potential to cause further harm to the hospitality industry by forcing a new service provider for a hotel to hire the previous contracted provider’s employees and navigate statutory barriers erected around operational positions, staffing redundancies, technical abilities, and staffs’ general ability to meet the hotel’s needs. The mandate would increase operating costs, threaten small businesses, and represent a significant shift in how the law approaches contracting.
The bill was sent along for consideration by the entire Senate this week under a rule that allows the fiscal hearing to be skipped if the Senate Appropriations chair determines the state costs of a proposal are not significant.
• SB 62 (Durazo; D-Los Angeles), a job killer that significantly increases the burden on nonunionized employers in the garment manufacturing industry in California, by eliminating piece rate as a method of payment even though it can benefit the employee, expanding joint and several liability for any wage violations to the entire supply chain, and shifting the evidentiary standards in a Labor Commissioner hearing to limit the ability for an employer to defend against an alleged wage violation. These additional requirements will encourage companies to contract with manufacturers outside of California, thereby limiting the demand and workforce of garment manufacturers in California.
SB 62 was sent to the Assembly Appropriations Committee Suspense File pending a review of its fiscal impacts on July 14, right before the Legislature began its summer recess.
• SB 410 (Leyva; D-Chino) specifically exempts Cal/OSHA regulations from the Standardized Regulatory Impact Analysis (SRIA) process, which provides thorough economic analysis and Department of Finance oversight for proposed regulations and is presently applicable to all regulations with a financial impact of more than $50 million.
The bill awaits action by the entire Assembly.
• SCA 1 (Hertzberg; D-Van Nuys) will change the California Constitution to swap the meaning of a “yes” vote and a “no” vote, creating confusion to the public and voters and adding superfluous legalese to the ballot.
Currently, a referendum that qualifies for the ballot repeals a law at issue if there are more “no” votes cast then “yes” votes. SCA 1 seeks to flip this understanding, and provide that a referendum is successful only if it receives more “yes” votes than “no.” There is no evidence that the current process has confused voters.
Between 1912 and 2020, according to the Secretary of State, 52 referenda qualified for the ballot. Voters approved 21 referenda (40%) and rejected 30 (58%).
SCA 1 was placed on the Senate Appropriations Suspense File pending a review of its fiscal impacts on July 15, just before the Legislature began its summer recess.