CalChamber Opposition Helps Stop Employment-Related Job Killer Bills, Other Harmful Proposals

Employment-Related Job Killer Bills

Governor Gavin Newsom laid down his lawmaking pen Friday night after signing 890 new laws into effect, and vetoing another 156, including three California Chamber of Commerce job killer bills.

The CalChamber tracked more than 700 bills this year, formally opposing more than 100. Most of the legislation the CalChamber opposed was either stopped or amended to address concerns.

Out of 19 job killer bills identified this year, the Legislature sent seven to the Governor, who signed four of those bills into law. At the urging of the CalChamber, the Governor rejected three job killer bills.

In one of labor’s major defeats of the year, the CalChamber led a large coalition to secure a veto of SB 799 (Portantino; D-Burbank), which would have provided unemployment compensation to striking workers. The Governor also vetoed several other onerous labor-supported bills, including SB 627 (Smallwood-Cuevas; D-Los Angeles), setting a stringent recall process for certain employers to return former employees to the workforce; AB 1356 (Haney; D-San Francisco), a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act expansion; and SB 725 (Smallwood-Cuevas; D-Los Angeles), requiring grocery stores to pay mandatory severance. He also vetoed a plaintiff attorney-sponsored bill, AB 524 (Wicks; D-Oakland), which would have subjected employers, especially small employers, to litigation.

Below is a sampling of the CalChamber employment-related priority bills that were either stopped or signed into law.

The Governor signed the following employment-related job killer bills:

  • AB 647 (Holden; D-Pasadena) Grocery Workers. Significantly expands statute related to successor grocery employers, including disrupting the ability for independent small stores to join together and creating a significant new private right of action.
  • SB 365 (Wiener: D-San Francisco) Undermines Arbitration. Discriminates against use of arbitration agreements by allowing trial courts to continue trial proceedings during any appeal regarding the denial of a motion to compel.
  • SB 616 (Gonzalez; D-Long Beach) Costly Sick Leave Expansion on All Employers. Imposes new costs and leave requirements on employers of all sizes, which is in addition to all other enacted leave mandates that small employers throughout the state are already struggling with to implement and comply.

The Governor vetoed the following employment-related job killer bills:

  • AB 524 (Wicks; D-Oakland) Expansion of Litigation Under FEHA. Exposes employers to costly litigation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) by asserting that any adverse employment action was in relation to the employee’s family caregiver status, which is broadly defined to include any employee who provides direct care of any person of their choosing, and creates a de facto accommodation requirement that will burden small businesses.
  • SB 627 (Smallwood-Cuevas; D-Los Angeles) Onerous Return to Work Mandate. Imposes an onerous and stringent process to hire employees based on seniority alone for nearly every industry, including hospitals, retail, restaurants and movie theaters, which will delay hiring and eliminates contracts for at-will employment.
  • SB 799 (Portantino; D-Burbank) Increased Unemployment Insurance Taxes to Subsidize Striking Workers. SB 799 will allow striking workers to claim UI benefits when they choose to strike. Because the UI Fund is paid for entirely by employers, SB 799 will effectively add more debt onto California employers. Moreover, SB 799 will effectively force employers to subsidize strikes at completely unrelated businesses because the UI Fund’s debt adds taxes for all employers, regardless of whether they’ve had a strike.

The following CalChamber-opposed employment-related bills were vetoed:

  • AB 1213 (Ortega; D-San Leandro) Tolling temporary disability payments. Requires tolling of temporary disability payments if Utilization Review decision is overturned during Independent Medical Review, which will drastically increase the number of unnecessary Independent Medical Review requests and is unnecessary in light of data supporting accuracy of Utilization Review decisions.
  • AB 1356 (Haney; D-San Francisco) WARN Act expansion. Significantly expands WARN Act by increasing notice period, changing definition of covered establishment, and expanding applicability to workers under overly broad definition of “employee of a labor contractor.”
  • SB 725 (Smallwood-Cuevas; D-Los Angeles) Mandatory severance. Unnecessarily requires grocery stores to pay mandatory severance, which should be left to the discretion of the employer.

The following CalChamber-supported employment-related bills were signed:

  • AB 1355 (Valencia; D-Anaheim) Electronic notices. Allows workers to request certain employment notices to be delivered electronically rather than in paper, benefiting both workers and the environment.
  • AB 1756 (Committee on Judiciary) Small employer mediation program. Extends the sunset on the Civil Rights Department small employer mediation program, which allows small employers to mediate certain employment claims under the Government Code.

For the expanded list of CalChamber’s priority bills that were either stopped or signed into law, read CalChamber’s Top Story.

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