A California Chamber of Commerce job killer bill that will eliminate an agricultural employee’s right to cast an independent vote in secret union ballot elections and a job killer bill that increases costs and liability on employers in the garment industry have passed the Legislature and are headed to the Governor’s desk.
A CalChamber-opposed bill that expands statutory contractor-retention policies in the lodging industry also passed the Legislature and will be presented to the Governor.
Governor Gavin Newsom has until October 10 to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature in the closing days of the session.
The CalChamber is urging the Governor to veto the following bills:
Job Killer Bills
• AB 616 (Stone; D-Scotts Valley) 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.
• SB 62 (Durazo; D-Los Angeles) 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.
Nothing in SB 62 will address the problem of underground, bad actors in the garment industry evading the law. Instead, SB 62 simply eliminates piece rate work and allows those bad actors to continue to operate with business as usual while passing the buck to companies that have no control over these workers. To eliminate the bad actors that presently operate outside of the law in this industry, the Legislature should look to its existing enforcement mechanisms and educating workers about their rights.
• 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 re-open after being forced to close or reduce operations due to COVID-19. The CalChamber job killer tag on this bill was removed due to April 19, 2021 amendments eliminating COVID-19 related recall provisions from the bill.
Specifically, this measure expands statutory contractor-retention policies to apply to “hotel services including guest service, food and beverage, or cleaning performed within the State of California, including any subcontracts for janitorial or building maintenance services or hotel services.” While “guest services” was amended to include services performed on the premises, the bill still fails to define “hotel services.” Therefore, as written, every function a hotel contractor performs to the benefit of its guests could be subject to the retention mandate, including: booking systems, website disability-access programs, pool cleaning services, hotel advertising services which offer special pricing, and every other potential service the guest interacts with.
California’s hotel industry was the most impacted industry by the pandemic, with more than 20% of all hotels closing and more than 122,000 employees laid off during the pandemic. By most estimates, it will take three to five years to return to pre-pandemic levels, and longer for some metropolitan areas. AB 1074 would not help the lodging industry or people employed by it, but would increase operating costs, threaten small businesses, and represent a significant shift in how the law approaches service contracting.