For a change, union-friendly governor signs many Teamster-supported bills

We have finally put the lid on the 2011 Legislative session and there can be no question that the Teamsters did very well under the Capitol Dome this year. The Governor signed almost every bill passed by the legislature that had significant impact on our members— unlike our previous governor, who used the veto pen on almost all labor-supported bills. Here's a list of the key legislation that the Governor signed.

Teamster-sponsored bills

Union recognition. SB 609 by Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, (DChino): This bill will ensure that the Public Employee Relations Board handles union recognition petitions promptly or recognition will be deemed granted after 180 days.

Prevailing wage for refuse drivers. AB 514 by Assembly Member Roger Hernandez, (D-West Covina): This bill amends Labor Code section 1720.3 to ensure that hauling refuse work is covered by the prevailing wage law. Since 2000, a law sponsored by the Teamsters has required that workers who haul refuse from a public works sites be paid the prevailing wage. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous contractors have rendered this provision meaningless by selling refuse hauled from public works sites for a nominal fee, a whole load for $1 for instance, and then refusing to pay the prevailing wage. Their excuse is that since the material hauled away had “some value” it was no longer refuse. This is a fraudulent practice designed to get around the intent of the law and designed to rob workers of the wages they are owed. We sponsored AB 514 to address this problem directly by clarifying that refuse will be characterized as such unless the material is legitimately worth something and is sold for market value.

Misclassification of independent contractors. SB 459 by Senator Ellen Corbett, (D-San Leandro): There is no existing penalty in state law for employers who misclassify their employees as independent contractors to evade their obligations. This bill creates significant new penalties for willful misclassification, requires violators to post a notice on their company website, holds consultants liable for advising employers to misclassify, and requires the Contractors State Licensing Board to discipline a contractor who willfully misclassifies.

Bills of significant importance to our members

Ban on self-checkout for alcohol sales. AB 183 by Assembly Member Fiona Ma, (D-San Francisco): In an effort to combat underage drinking, this bill would ban the use of self-checkout stands for alcohol sales. This bill will ensure that real workers screen customers to prevent youth from buying alcohol because selfcheckout machines are not up to the task. Ending this practice also puts the business model of significant non-union grocers in jeopardy, which is a victory for us and our UFCW brothers and sisters.

Film Tax Credit. AB 1069 by Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes, (DArleta): This bill extended this important tax policy for one year to keep good film industry jobs in California.

Organizing and bargaining rights for farmworkers. SB 126 by Senator Darrell Steinberg, (DSacramento): This bill makes a number of changes to the ALRA to enhance the right to organize for farmworkers. If employers interfere in an election to the extent that a fair election is impossible, the employer could be ordered to recognize the union. The bill also provides for tighter timeframes and extends contract mediation to help farmworkers organize and bargain for better agreements.

Moving all initiatives to general election. SB 202 by Senator Steinberg, (D-Sacramento): It’s simple. Significantly more people vote in the general election than in the primary. This bill recognizes that fact by requiring that all ballot initiatives appear on a general election ballot. As ballot initiatives become more prominent as a governing tool, voter voice— our voice—should be maximized.

Expedited CEQA for downtown LA stadium. SB 292 by Senator Alex Padilla, (D-Van Nuys): We need jobs. Los Angeles' unemployment rate is a full percentage point higher than the state’s 12.4% rate. This bill leaves environmental laws intact, but creates an expedited process for environmental litigation, ensuring that ground is broken on this project much sooner than existing law would permit. Tens of thousands of temporary and permanent living wage jobs are expected to be created by this project.

Protect local Project Labor Agreement options. SB 922 by Senator Darrell Steinberg, (DSacramento): This bill would ensure local entities can decide on a case-bycase basis whether PLAs are best for their community. Those with a blanket prohibition on PLAs would be ineligible for state funds. It doesn't require cities to use PLAs; it just protects them as a local option..