Labor Relations

Labor relations legislation of note chaptered into law in 2008 included: SB 302 (Ducheny) providing further guidance to the California Welfare Investment Board regarding the development of a strategic workforce plan; SB 940 (Yee) enhancing the law related to payment of wages in the temporary services industry; SB 1145 (Machado) and AB 1874 (Coto) reforming of the State Compensation Insurance Board and Fund; SB 1173 (Scott) extending from 30 to 45 days under which a company must notify the motion picture industry and related services that they are quitting business; SB 1352 (Wyland) permitting a contractor, subcontractor, or surety to deposit the full amount of the assessment for the Department of Industrial Relations to hold in escrow pending review, as specified, and to be distributed, as specified; AB 10 (Assembly Budget Committee) modifying provisions of an existing overtime exemption for specified computer software employees; AB 2075 (Fuentes) prohibiting employers from executing false statements of hours worked by an employee; AB 2537 (Furutani) extending a public works exemption for specified volunteers and other related individuals; AB 2754 (Bass) expanding a service-connected disability presumption for blood borne infectious deceases; AB 3018 (Nunez) establishing the Green Collar Jobs Council to perform specified tasks related to addressing the workforce needs that accompany California’s growing green economy; and AB 3056 (Assembly Insurance Committee) extending the 1/1/10 sunset date to 1/1/15 for an existing state retraining program that satisfies a federal mandate to provide training to individuals who receive unemployment insurance compensation.

Vetoed labor relations legislation of note included: SB 191 (Padilla), establishing an alternative mechanism to fund enforcement of prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements on specified public works projects; SB 867 (Cedillo) permitting family child care providers to form, join and participate in “provider organizations” for purposes of negotiating with state agencies on specified matters; SB 1115 (Migden) adding to the Labor Code language prohibiting various forms of discrimination in the apportionment of industrial disabilities; SB 1338 (Migden) deleting the sunset date on the law that authorizes a worker to predesignate his/her personal treating physician as the treating physician in the event of a workplace injury; SB 1583 (Corbett) regulating consultants that knowingly advise an employer to misclassify an employee as an independent contractor; SB 1661 (Kuehl) permitting individuals who leave employment to take Paid Family Leave to become potentially eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in the future, provided these individuals meet all of the other unemployment insurance requirements; SB 1717 (Perata) increasing the number of weeks that permanent disability benefits are paid, thereby increasing the amount of money received for each percent of disability; AB 437 (Jones) ensuring that victims of pay discrimination in California have ample opportunity to seek appropriate redress for discrimination; AB 507 (De La Torre) requiring the Workers’ Compensation Rating Bureau, a private entity that is designated by the Insurance Commissioner as his/her “statistical agent” to carry out specified statutory functions; AB 628 (Price) extending current law governing meal and rest periods to pool lifeguards employed in the local public sector; AB 734 (Evans) enhancing oversight relative to apprenticeship programs; AB 1107 (Arambula) increasing the allowable maximum earnings from $25 (or 25% of wages) to $200 per week that a person eligible for unemployment compensation may keep as a result of a loss of work from the 2008 drought; AB 1666 (Price) extending current law governing meal and rest periods to stage assistants employed in the local public sector; AB 2002 (De Leon) increasing employer penalties for failure to pay required prevailing wage rates and for failure to comply with a notice requiring submission of payroll records; AB 2081 (Coto) prohibiting kickbacks from a utilization review company to a third-party administrator as an inducement for the third- party administrator to refer a workers’ compensation claim for utilization review; AB 2279 (Leno) prohibiting employers from discriminating against an employee on the basis that the employee is a qualified medical marijuana patient; AB 2369 (Fuentes) permitting an awarding body to assist the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations in the enforcement of prevailing wage laws that apply to apprenticeships, through the operation of the awarding body’s approved labor compliance program; AB 2386 (Nunez) permitting agricultural employees to select collective bargaining representation through a new “mediated election” process; AB 2622 (Hayashi) requiring the Employment Training Panel, as part of its three-year strategic funding plan, to include the identification of specific industries, with consideration of new and emerging industries such as clean technology; AB 2629 (Evans) modifying existing law relating to the construction, maintenance, and inspection of conveyances; AB 2918 (Lieber) specifying when a credit report can be pulled for employment purposes; AB 2969 (Lieber) requiring workers’ compensation utilization review physician to be licensed in California; AB 3062 (Assembly Labor and Employment Committee) prohibiting an employer from discharging an employee because their wages have been subjected to garnishment for the payment of one or more judgments; AB 3063 (Assembly Labor and Employment Committee) prohibiting employers from utilizing specified information for employment purposes, except as otherwise provided by law; AB 3066 (Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee) expanding the number of those specified projects that qualify for priority funding from the Employment Training Panel to include projects that support veterans and members of the California National Guard, especially those individuals who have become disabled as a result of military service.

The Governor has called a special election in November of which one of the issues is to restore solvency to the unemployment insurance fund to assist the job losses which California is experiencing due to the economic downturn. The financing system for the trust fund is over 20 years old and while benefits have increased, contributions have remained. The fund is projected to be $2.4 billion in the red for the coming calendar year and $4.9 billion in the red in 2010. If no changes are made, federal taxes for California employers will increase in 2012. To shore-up the fund and protect benefits to unemployed Californians, the Governor has called for a gradual increase in contributions into the fund, combined with a small reduction in benefits in order to maintain the fund’s solvency.