Stronger CA 2022 Agenda increases economic security for families, expands workplace rights
March 24. 2022
For Immediate Release
Mar 24, 2022
Jess Eagle, Communications Manager
Equal Rights Advocates
SACRAMENTO – Today a network of more than 65 California nonprofits and advocacy groups announced a 2022 Legislative Agenda that addresses the most pressing needs of California working women and low-income families in the wake of COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis.
Known as the Stronger California Advocates Network, the groups work in partnership with members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus every year to support policies that advance economic security for working women and families.
The Agenda also addresses ongoing needs of workers and families that have been highlighted and exacerbated by the pandemic in the past 2 years, including child care costs; workplace discrimination against parents and other family caregivers; economic insecurity for domestic violence survivors; gender and race pay inequalities; fast-food worker abuse; limited access to paid family leave and bereavement leave; and lack of unemployment insurance for immigrants without documentation.
The 2022 Agenda would:
- Supply more child care options in underserved communities, expand child care subsidies and financial support for child care providers, and eliminate child care family fees through 2023;
- Make workplace laws more inclusive of LGBTQI+ people and intergenerational households by including chosen family in workplace leave;
- Advance reproductive justice and abortion rights, which is critical to economic security;
- Protect domestic violence survivors from the negative impacts of economic abuse and debt coercion, and ensure they have adequate housing protections;
- Combat wage theft, sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions, and other inequities for fast-food workers by implementing improved industry-wide standards, and holding global corporations accountable;
- Address pay transparency and the gender wage gap by requiring employers to publicly report how much they pay employees according to gender and race, as well as providing salary ranges in all job postings;
- Provide job-protected bereavement leave to workers upon the death of a loved one;
- And more. (Full agenda below)
The Stronger California Agenda provides concrete policy solutions to address the fact that many women and their families in California face obstacles to enjoying economically secure lives. California has the fifth largest economy in the world, but one of the nation’s highest poverty rates, which disproportionately harms women and children. Child care access is lower in California than in other states, and women are paid less than their male counterparts for the same work in virtually every job sector. They are also more likely to work in low-wage jobs and have fewer opportunities to advance in their careers.
Nationally, two-thirds of minimum wage earners and 60% of essential workers are women. These positions are often underpaid and receive fewer (if any) job-protected sick days, time off to care for sick family members, and access to affordable healthcare plans. Prior to the pandemic, women were already experiencing significant barriers to economic security and were more likely to live in poverty. Financial insecurity was especially pronounced for Black, Latinx, Native, Asian American, and Pacific Islander women. The current crisis is the first economic recession in which more women than men lost jobs.
Therefore, policies that address the myriad obstacles threatening women and families are now more important than ever, and it is critical that women are centered in economic recovery efforts.
Quotes from Stronger California Pillar Lead organizations:
Jessica Stender, Policy Director & Deputy Legal Director, Equal Rights Advocates; Co-Chair, Stronger California Advocates Network:
“Now more than ever, California lawmakers must support working families. The pandemic made employees’ family obligations much more visible to their employers, with increased need to care for sick loved ones, and frequent unexpected closures of schools, child care facilities, and nursing homes. As jobs have become more scarce, parents and family caregivers have faced increased levels of job loss and difficulty re-entering the workforce, with caregiving responsibilities being one of the main forces pushing them out of jobs. Black and Latinx women, in particular, have been disproportionately impacted. AB 2182 (Wicks) will ensure Californians are protected from workplace discrimination based on their family responsibilities and will give working people the support they need to provide care without risk of losing their economic security.”
Mary Ignatius, Parent Voices Statewide Organizer:
“Mothers, particularly Black and other moms of color, need affordable, accessible, quality child care to return to the workforce and benefit in California’s economic recovery. We can solve that with the passage of AB 92 which eliminates unaffordable child care fees and uses new federal funds to replace the loss of those fees. Connected to this is the need to invest significantly to reopen our child care programs that are hanging on by a thread through increased wages and supports to the child care workforce, 96% who are women and majority women of color. We need bold investments to undo the race, class, and gender inequities that fell on mothers the hardest during the pandemic. It’s time to heal the harm of the past and pass the Stronger California budget and legislative policies!”
Mariko Yoshihara, Policy Director & Legislative Counsel at the California Employment Lawyers Association:
“One of the biggest hurdles to combatting pay inequities is that they are often hidden from sight. By requiring greater transparency around employer pay data, SB 1162 will help empower workers to seek fair pay,” said Mariko Yoshihara, Policy Director & Legislative Counsel at the California Employment Lawyers Association, a cosponsor of the bill along with Equal Rights Advocates and TechEquity Collaborative. “Additionally, by requiring employers to make their existing pay day reports publicly available, it will help reveal the structural inequities within companies and within different industries that have allowed the race and gender wage gap to persist.”
Sasha Feldstein, Economic Justice Policy Director, California Immigrant Policy Center:
“When the COVID-19 pandemic began and millions lost their jobs, unemployment insurance benefits served as an essential lifeline for Californians, more so than other forms of relief. However, based on outdated and racist policies, many immigrant workers were entirely excluded from unemployment benefits, despite being some of the most severely impacted by the pandemic. Without the support of essential safety net programs like unemployment benefits, many immigrant families were forced to exhaust their life savings, accumulate greater debt, and compromise their health to simply afford basic necessities. AB 2847, the Excluded Workers Act, would end this racist exclusion by providing unemployment benefits for excluded immigrant workers. It will allow us to build a more resilient and equitable economy, so when the next crisis hits that puts people out of work–whether earthquakes, fires, or changes in the economy–we’re not back where we started. Anyone who is unemployed—even outside of a pandemic—is experiencing a crisis and it is our responsibility to ensure all Californians are protected.”
Katie Wutchiett, Staff Attorney, Legal Aid at Work:
“Right now, taking leave to be there for an ill loved one, recover from an illness, or bond with a new baby is unaffordable for too many Californians. SB 951 would fix this by providing workers who have lower-incomes with 90% of their regular pay through Paid Family Leave and State Disability Insurance, instead of only 60-70%.”
David Huerta, President of SEIU California and SEIU-United Service Worker West (USWW):
“Building back better and recovering from the pandemic demands that we shift the balance of power between the global corporations and the essential workers who are the backbone of our economy. Fast food workers, who are predominantly women, immigrants, and people of color, are creating lasting change in an industry notorious for exploitative work conditions, violence on the job, sexual harassment and discrimination. AB 257 empowers fast food workers to push back against corporate practices that force small business franchise operators to cut corners, oftentimes at the expense of worker health and safety. With AB 257, fast food workers are demanding the power to join together and win better wages and protections, holding the billion-dollar fast food industry accountable, and leading the movement for racial and economic justice.”
Shimica Gaskins, President & CEO at GRACE – End Child Poverty California:
“The fundamental problem for communities forced into the margins, especially Black children, is not savings but building wealth. SB 854 (Skinner), the HOPE for Children Act of 2022, will promote economic mobility and help to narrow the racial wealth gap for children who lost their parent(s) or primary caregiver to COVID-19 and eligible foster youth. This support will help to set them on a path of greater financial stability throughout their lives and has the power to combat intergenerational poverty.”
Jenya Cassidy, Director, California Work & Family Coalition:
“All Californians deserve to be able to care for their loved ones. Our current paid leave laws exclude caregivers who care for people outside of the current narrow definition of family including LGBTQ+ workers, immigrants, elders, and people living in multigenerational households. AB 1041 (Wicks) would ensure that our laws reflect the reality and diversity of California families. This is a huge step toward realizing equitable leave laws for all.”
Ruth Dawson, Legislative Attorney with ACLU California Action:
“California cannot support working families if the government polices the decisions people make about their families, their bodies, and their futures. Emboldened by the national dismantling of Roe, reactionary forces in our state are attempting to use the legal system to coerce and control pregnant people and their reproductive decision making. This effort to criminalize pregnancies poses an outsized threat to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, who experience adverse pregnancy outcomes as a result of systemic racial inequities and are more likely to be under scrutiny of state systems like child welfare, or immigration. AB 2223 protects families by ensuring that no one in the State of California is investigated, prosecuted, or incarcerated for self-managed abortion or experiencing pregnancy loss. We should all be able to get the health care we need without shame, unnecessary restrictions, or fear.”
The 2022 Stronger California Advocates Network Agenda
Ensure Fair Pay, Job Opportunities, & Workplace Justice
- SB 1162 – Pay Transparency for Pay Equity Act (Introduced by Senator Limón)
This bill would increase pay transparency by requiring employers to report and make public pay data broken down by race, ethnicity, and sex for both direct employees and employees hired through a labor contractor. Additionally, it would employers to provide salary ranges on all job postings and to current employees upon request, and to make promotional opportunities available to current employees, before making a promotion decision.
- AB 257 – Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (Introduced by Assemblymember Holden)
The FAST Recovery Act, is a critical solution for California’s fast food industry, which is notorious for low wages, wage theft, sexual harassment, retaliation and unsafe working conditions. This bill would advance protections for fast food workers, nearly 80% of whom are immigrants or people of color and two-thirds women, by creating a Fast Food Sector Council consisting of workers, employers and government regulators charged with proposing and implementing improved industry-wide standards. AB 257 is first of its kind legislation aimed at empowering frontline workers, increasing corporate accountability and addressing the complex issues of the fast food industry. California has the opportunity to lead the nation in this innovative approach to combating poverty, improving workplace conditions and increasing protections for some of the lowest paid essential workers in our state.
Expand Access to Affordable, Quality Early Childhood Care and Education
- AB 92 – Reducing Child Care Family Fees (Introduced by Assemblymember Reyes)
This bill alleviates the burdens that families face in paying for child care by creating an equitable sliding scale for family fees and waiving families for all families until October 31, 2023.
Support Family-Friendly Workplaces
- SB 951 – Making Paid Family Leave and State Disability Insurance Accessible to All Workers (Introduced by Senator Durazo)
This bill will increase the weekly wage replacement rate for Paid Family Leave (PFL) and state disability insurance (SDI), to up to 90%, to make them accessible and affordable to all of California’s families. California’s PFL and SDI programs allow workers to receive income when they cannot work because they are caring for a new child or seriously ill family member, or when they are temporarily unable to work because of their own health condition, including pregnancy. By raising the wage replacement rate, this bill will help ensure all California workers, especially pregnant and parenting workers and family caregivers – predominately women – can access PFL and SDI and to care for themselves and their loved ones when it matters most.
- AB 1949 – Job Protected Bereavement Leave for Workers (Introduced by Assemblymember Low)
This bill will allow workers to take up to 5 days of unpaid, job-protected bereavement leave upon the death of a loved one, whether this be a spouse, child, sibling, parent, grandparent, or domestic partner. All workers deserve the right to take time off during moments of immense hardship related to the death of a loved one. It also prohibits employers from firing or otherwise discriminating against employees for taking the leave.
- AB 1041 – Leave for Chosen Family (Introduced by Assemblymember Wicks)This bill will ensure that California workers are able to be there for their loved ones when it matters most by expanding the definition of “family member” for purposes of family caregiving leave and paid sick leave to allow workers to take time off to care for family members who are related by blood or affinity.
- AB 2182 – Protections Against Family Responsibilities Discrimination (Introduced by Assemblymember Wicks)
This bill would protect California workers by prohibiting discrimination against employees because of their family responsibilities and helps ensure working families have access to reasonable accommodations to deal with unforeseen closures of schools and other care facilities.
Build Economic Security by Addressing Poverty & Building Assets
- SB 1017 – Housing Protections for Domestic Violence Survivors (Introduced by Senator Eggman)
This bill will expand California’s existing eviction protections under California’ Code of Civil Procedure §1161.3 for survivors of abuse to include survivors of violent crime. The bill also strengthens eviction protections by closing loopholes in current eviction protections, increasing survivors documentation options and increasing the situations when survivors can utilize this crucial protection to avoid eviction and homelessness
- SB 975 – Protecting Vulnerable Populations from Coerced Debt (Introduced by Senator Min)
This bill would protect survivors of coerced debt from the negative impacts of debts taken out in their name through coercion or without their knowledge or consent by preventing debt collection against survivors when they can demonstrate that the debt was incurred as a result of coercion. The bill establishes a set of documentation that can be provided to demonstrate this. SB 975 will protect survivors’ economic well-being by preventing them from needing to pay the costs of these debts and protecting their credit report and credit score from being damaged as a result of the debt.
- AB 2847 – Excluded Workers Pilot Program (Introduced by Assemblymember E. Garcia)
This bill would create an Excluded Workers Pilot Program, to be administered by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, which would provide $300 a week for up to 20 weeks to workers who are unemployed and excluded from Unemployment Insurance solely due to their immigration status. In addition, the bill would prohibit disclosures of personal information obtained through the program, and would require the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, on or before August 1, 2024, to submit a report to the Governor and specified committees that makes recommendations for establishing a permanent excluded workers unemployment insurance benefit program. The bill complements a budget ask of $690 million to fund, implement, and administer the program.
- SB 854 – The HOPE for Children Act (Introduced by Senator Skinner)
This bill establishes the California HOPE Account and the CalSurvivor Program. The California HOPE Accounts will establish a strong foundation for eligible youth by offering up to $4,000 to children up to age 9, and $8,000 for children ages 10 – 17 in state-issued trust funds. The HOPE for Children Act is focused on creating economic mobility and narrowing the racial wealth gap for children who lost their parent(s) or primary caregiver to COVID-19 and eligible foster youth.
- AB 2223 – Reproductive Health (Introduced by Assemblymember Wicks)
AB 2223 will ensure that no one in the State of California will be investigated, prosecuted, or incarcerated for ending a pregnancy or experiencing pregnancy loss. AB 2223 protects reproductive freedom by clarifying that the Reproductive Privacy Act prohibits pregnancy criminalization, and creates a private right of action for people whose rights have been violated to seek accountability using civil courts. It would also remove outdated provisions requiring coroners to investigate certain pregnancy losses, and ensure that information collected about pregnancy loss is not used to target people through criminal or civil legal systems.