The Grand Finale:

The legislative session ended at approximately 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning – the early hour was largely due to a significant delay in proceedings on the Senate floor as a result of an attack by a protester. Our team was working up to the very end on some significant legislation that would have had serious impacts on California employers.  Here is a summary of how those high profile bills shook out:

SB 1 (Atkins) – this was one of our few remaining Job Killers awaiting passage in the Legislature.  We had major concerns on the impact this legislation would have on water flows for agriculture and construction.  Late Friday evening, the Assembly and Senate had extensive debate on the policy, but ultimately passed the bill.  We were bummed.  However, the following day the Governor’s office announced it would veto this legislation.  Win!  In response to this recent news, President and CEO of CalChamber, Allan Zaremberg, stated:

“SB 1 posed a major threat to California’s water supply and reliability and the Governor has shown outstanding leadership in announcing his veto of this measure.”

SB 54 (Allen)/AB 1080 (Gonzalez) – two bills, but the same policy.  This legislation would have required manufacturers of single-use packing and certain single-use products to reach a 75% recyclability rate  by 2030.  While the intent of these bills is certainly valid as we have all seen the pictures of huge piles of plastic floating in the ocean, the concern is California does not have the existing infrastructure in place to achieve this ambitious rate.  Neither bill was brought up for a vote on the Assembly or Senate floors, which means the bills are done for this year, but this is an issue we will definitely see next year.

AB 1066 (Gonzalez) – this bill was our other remaining Job Killer and would have provided workers who chose to go out on strike with unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks.  Unemployment insurance benefits are a safety net for workers, who through no fault of their own, are unemployed.  The fund is not intended for workers who choose to leave their job and go on strike to gain some leverage against the employer in collective bargaining negotiations.  If this bill would have passed, it would have placed a significant burden on the fund, reducing benefits for those workers who are actually unemployed, especially when economists suggest a recession may be on the horizon.  The bill failed on the Senate Floor early Saturday morning.

ACA 14 (Gonzalez) – this bill sought to prohibit the UC system from contracting out for various services, which would have placed a significant financial strain on our education system.  The proposal was sponsored by Labor in an effort to require more UC employees to increase union membership.  While an employment relationship may be preferred for regular services and duties performed by the UC, there are a number of services that are irregular, limited, specialized, and require an outside contractor to provide.  This proposal also failed on the Senate Floor early Saturday morning.

These bills highlighted above are only a few of the bills we worked on this legislative session.  Several concerning bills made it through and are now awaiting action by the Governor, who has until October 13th to veto or sign legislation.   We will provide an update on those bills after the deadline passes.  However, for now, not a bad end to the legislative session.

Jennifer Barrera, Executive Vice President