The California Legislature concluded a busy week as members raced to advance bills before the deadline to pass bills out of policy committees. In spite of heavy opposition from Western Growers and a large coalition of state business interests, two notable labor union-sponsored bills advanced through Senate policy committees and will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee in August.
Assembly Bill 1897 (Roger Hernandez, D – West Covina) would impose significant liability on an innocent third party employer for wage and hour violations, workers’ compensation violations, and tax violations of another business contracted to provide staffing services. WG members using farm labor contractors for field work or temporary staffing agencies for packing sheds, coolers and processing facilities, would face joint liability exposure. The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-2 vote. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) and Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) were the two no votes.
Assembly Bill 2416 (Stone, D-Scotts Valley) would allow employees and employees’ representatives, including creditors, to file pre-judgment wage liens against the real property and personal property of an employer. The liens would not be limited to minimum wage violations but would include all wage violations and all penalties under the Labor Code. The bill was heard in both the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committees this week. Amendments to the bill that were taken in the Judiciary Committee included prohibiting the filing of any wage lien on an employer’s principal residence and requiring the employee to clearly identify the property that the wage lien would attach to. A lien would also not attach if the employer receives a court or Labor Commissioner order finding that the employee does not have a reasonable likelihood of success on the claim for wages and other compensation, penalties, and interest owed to the employee. AB 2416 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-2 vote with Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) and Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) voting no. The bill was also heard in the Senate Labor Committee and was passed on a 4-1 vote with Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) voting no.
Senate Bill 935 (Leno, D-San Francisco) is strongly opposed by a large coalition of business groups. The bill would increase the minimum wage to $11.00 on January 1, 2015, to $12.00 on January 1, 2016, and to $13.00 on January 1, 2017. Starting in 2018, the minimum wage would be annually increased based on the California Consumer Price Index, however the bill does not allow the wage rate to decrease when the state inflation index goes down. The bill failed passage in the Assembly Labor Committee yesterday, falling one vote short. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) voted no, and assemblymembers Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), and Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) abstained on the bill. Alejo declined to support the bill because he authored last year’s minimum wage increase legislation, which takes effect on July 1 by increasing the wage to $9.00 and then again to $10.00 on January 1, 2016. Alejo explained that voting in favor of yet another minimum wage increase even as his legislation is taking effect would violate commitments he made with stakeholders last year. Following the failure of his bill, Sen. Leno requested reconsideration by the Assembly Labor Committee, but due to this week’s legislative deadline, the bill is effectively dead.
Please contact Matthew Allen in WG’s Sacramento office for more information.
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