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CFA Support Bills to Strengthen Union, Democratic Institutions

We continue to await the preliminary results of the unionization vote of thousands of Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala. Not only does CFA support the drive to unionize, but so do a majority of Americans, according to a new poll by Data for Progress. As the counting happens, CFA is excited to release to its members a list of proposed union-related bills that we support this year.

“It is only by locking arms as workers and joining the struggle for economic justice and freedom for all that we will expand the democratic institutions that are pivotal to the liberty of all individuals,” said Nena Tórrez, CFA San Bernardino Chapter President and CFA Political Action & Legislative Committee Member.

Over the last few weeks, CFA has introduced members to various proposed legislation that the union either sponsors/co-sponsors, supports, or is closely watching. We unveiled our support and sponsorship of bills aligning with our anti-racism and social justice work. Previously, we reviewed bills that protect and strengthen higher education and enhance student access. Last week, we released our list of much-needed law enforcement reform legislation. These bills received input from chapters, and were recommended by CFA’s Political Action and Legislative Committee and approved by the CFA Board of Directors.

Unless specifically noted, CFA supports these legislative efforts:

Assembly Bill 37: would expand voting rights. The bill would require elections officials to mail every active registered voter a ballot for all future elections. The bill would also ensure all California voters continue to track their vote-by-mail ballot as it moves through the mail system and is processed by election officials.

AB 237: The bill, also known as the Public Employee Health Protection Act, would protect health insurance for workers choosing to strike over unfair labor practices. The bill protects against employers announcing plans or threatening to stop paying employees the employer share of health insurance premiums, or even dis-enroll workers from their insurance, if workers remain on strike.

AB 314: would allow all employees of the Legislature the right to organize into a union if they so choose, in order to improve their wages, working conditions, and bargain over other terms of their employment. The bill covers all employees of the Legislature except the following: elected members, appointed members, department and/or office leaders, the Chief Clerk of the Assembly, Secretary of the Senate, chief administrative officers, chief sergeant-at-arms, chiefs of staff, and chief consultants.

AB 339: allows residents’ the ability to continue to participate in government while staying socially distanced, via digital and remote participation for government hearings. The COVID-19 pandemic, while allowing teleconferenced meetings, has also shown how existing inequities (i.e. lack of broadband access or translation services) create barriers preventing many from accessing this public discourse.

AB 615: requires a higher education employer to provide a procedure for all medical and dental interns and residents, persons in accredited resident physician subspecialty programs, and other postgraduate medical and dental trainees in unaccredited programs to challenge a termination of employment or disciplinary action after all available administrative or academic grievance processes are exhausted.

AB 654: allows the public access to track the number of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks by both workplace and industry on the State Department of Public Health’s website.

AB 814: prohibits data collected, received, or prepared for purposes of contact tracing from being used, maintained, or disclosed for any purpose other than facilitating contact tracing efforts. The bill would prohibit an officer, deputy, employee, or agent of a law enforcement agency, as defined, from engaging in contact tracing.

AB 995: CFA is watching amendments to the bill before taking a position on this bill, which would increase the minimum paid sick days from three to five a year for California workers. The five days must be available by the 200th calendar day of employment.

AB 1041: Also known as the Chosen Family Act, this bill would expand the definition of “family member” for purposes of family and sick leave to allow workers to take time off to care for “an individual related by blood, or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”

AB 1179: would require employers with 1,000 or more employees to pay up to 60 hours a year for workers’ “backup childcare,” used when their regular provider can’t be utilized.

AB 1269: CFA is monitoring this bill. The bill would require the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to conduct a comprehensive study of part-time faculty, to be completed by July 1, 2023. The study would include: (1) collect and report part-time faculty parity data from each community college district, (2) identify policy and fiscal recommendations enabling CCC to achieve a compensation schedule that achieves pay equity for part-time faculty by January 1, 2027.

AB 1400: creates a single-payer health system called CalCare, which would expand coverage to nearly three million uninsured Californians and provide dental care, generous prescription drug coverage, and long-term care.

Senate Bill 270: would allow a union to give notice to an employer of an inaccuracy or incomplete employee contact list. The employer would then get an opportunity to fix the issue. If the employer doesn’t within 10 days, the union can file an unfair practice charge with PERB. The employer can utilize this opportunity to cure only three times in any 12-month period.

SB 294: allows California teachers to take an indefinite leave from the classroom to work in a union without pension consequences. The bill removes the 12-year cap for service credit earned by a member while on a compensated leave of absence for elected service until the Teachers’ Retirement Law and the Public Employees’ Retirement Law.

SB 411: would provide authority to the CalPERS Board to waive or reduce fines for retirees that inadvertently go over the statutory limitation of 960 hours year, without having to force a retiree to reinstate into the system.

SB 566: restores five percent salary steps for thousands of CSU support staff. It helps fix the CSU’s broken salary structure for CSU support staff that currently allows newly-hired employees to earn more than long-term employees. The measure provides CSU support staff an annual merit-based five percent salary step contingent on their job performance.

SB 644: allows Employment Development Department (EDD) to share information with Covered California for outreach on health coverage options. The bill could allow outreach to those who qualify for unemployment, but those who apply and are ineligible for unemployment, like gig workers.

SB 663: amends days allowed for a voter who signed onto a recall ballot to remove their name.