Release: Stronger California 2020 Legislative Agenda
June 3. 2020
For Immediate Release
Jun 3, 2020
Jess Eagle, Communications Manager
Equal Rights Advocates
Stronger California Advocates Network Addresses Critical Needs of Women Workers & Families during and after COVID-19
SACRAMENTO — Today a network of more than 50 California nonprofits and advocacy groups announced a 2020 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 bills in this year’s agenda would expand paid sick leave and bereavement leave; increase job protection for workers who need to stay home due to school closures; grant long overdue occupational health and safety protections to domestic workers; and ensure workers who were laid-off or furloughed during the pandemic can be first in line to reclaim their positions.
The agenda also addresses ongoing needs of low-income families that have been highlighted and exacerbated by the pandemic in recent months, including the need for affordable, quality child care; pay data collection to help close race and gender-based wage gaps; and job security for workers who must take leave to care for a sick family member.
The Stronger California Advocates Network’s 2020 Agenda is listed below, as well as quotes from Network pillar leads.
The 2020 Stronger California Advocates Network Agenda
Ensure Fair Pay, Job Opportunities, & Workplace Justice
- SB 1257 – Eliminating the Exclusion of Household Domestic Service in Cal/OSHA (Introduced by Senator Durazo)
This bill would eliminate the “household domestic service” exclusion in Labor Code §6303 (Cal/OSHA). California occupational health and safety (Cal/OSHA) requirements for employers to provide a safe working environment do not apply to “household domestic service.” The term is not defined and there is no legislative history to help explain why the exclusion was added. This bill would remove a historical exclusion that has no justification in today’s economy and is particularly egregious considering the occupational health and safety hazards domestic workers are currently facing during the COVID-19 crisis.
- SB 973 – Pay Data Reporting to Close the Gender and Race Wage Gaps (Introduced by Senator Jackson)
This bill would require California employers with 100 employees or more to submit an annual pay data report to the Department of Industrial Relations outlining the compensation and hours worked of its employees by gender, race, ethnicity, and job category. This would allow state agencies to more efficiently identify patterns of wage disparities and encourage employers to analyze their own pay practices to ensure they are fair and lawful. It would also give the Department of Fair Employment and Housing the authority to enforce the California Fair Pay Act in coordination with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement.
- SB 1399 –Garment Worker Protection Act (Introduced by Senator Durazo)
This bill will strengthen current law to ensure protections of garment worker rights in three ways. It will:
- expand liability, ensuring that retailers cannot use layers of contracting to avoid liability;
- prohibit the use of paying garment workers by the “piece,” thereby eliminating a significant obstacle to workers being paid minimum wage and also protecting their health and safety; and
- explicitly authorize the Labor Commissioner’s Bureau of Field Enforcement (BOFE) to investigate and cite guarantors for wage theft.
- AB 1947 – Worker Retaliation Claims (Introduced by Assemblymember Kalra)
This bill will advance workers’ access to justice by extending the time period to file a retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner from 6 months to 1 year. It will also help to ensure that low-wage workers are able to obtain legal assistance specifically for whistleblower complaints, by allowing workers to recover their attorneys’ fees if they prevail in such complaints.
Expand Access to Affordable, Quality Early Childhood Care and Education
- Budget Request: Child Care
The Network supports the Early Care and Education (ECE) Coalition budget ask which includes: expanded access to affordable child care for Essential Care Workers through September 2021 and ongoing for other working families; no cuts to reimbursement rates; and increased pay and support to providers who remain open.
Support Family-Friendly Workplaces
- Budget Request: Paid Family Leave
Governor Newsom’s 2020-21 budget proposal will protect Californians from losing their jobs when they take leave from work to care for themselves, a new child, or a seriously ill family member. This proposal implements the critical first step of the comprehensive recommendations issued by the Governor’s Paid Family Leave Task Force, which included representatives of the business, labor, and early childhood education communities. Ensuring job protection for all workers will improve family health, increase family economic stability, cut healthcare costs, grow the labor market, and invest in the wellbeing of future generations.
- SB 1383 – Strengthening the Family School Partnership Act During Emergencies (Introduced by Senator Jackson)
Currently, most Californians can only take 40 hours of leave when their child’s school or daycare is unavailable and they need to care for them. SB 1383 would give parents the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave to care for their child when a school or day care closes due to an emergency, for the full length of the emergency.
- AB 3216 – Job Protections for Working Families Impacted by COVID-19 (Introduced by Assemblymember Kalra and Assemblymember Gonzalez)
This bill creates statewide emergency paid sick leave, expanded access to unpaid, job-protected family leave, and right of recall for workers in certain industries during states of emergency. Importantly, it ensures that workers left out of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act – up to 12 million Californians – have access to leave when they need to care for themselves or a family member without risking their job and financial security.
- AB 2999– Bereavement Leave (Introduced by Assemblymember Low)
This bill would provide all California workers with up to 10 days of unpaid, job-protected bereavement leave upon the death of a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild. Although the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides employees who qualify with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave to care for their own serious illness or that of a close family member, it does not provide any right to take job-protected leave to attend the funeral or grieve the death of a close family member. This bill will fill this gap in California law to ensure workers are able to take time off work to grieve the loss of a family member without fear of losing their job, which is especially critical during a public health crisis.
Build Economic Security by Addressing Poverty & Building Assets
- AB 2567 –CalWORKs Eligibility (Introduced by Assemblymember Burke)
This bill would allow the CalWORKs program to serve people with the full set of benefits and services for the full 60 months allowed under federal law.
- AB 1593 & Budget Request– Including All Immigrant Tax Filers in the CalEITC and Young Child Tax Credit (Introduced by Assemblymember Reyes)
This bill and budget ask would remove exclusions for immigrant tax filers to the CalEITC and the Young Child Tax Credit. In light of COVID-19, we are asking that the Governor does this as part of his emergency response to the outbreak and makes it retroactive to tax year 2019, so that over 600,000 individuals, including over 200,000 children, can get critical resources immediately.
- Budget Request: SSI/SSP
Increase the SSI/SSP Grants for people with disabilities and the elderly so that their income is no less than the federal poverty line, and permanently restore the cost of living adjustment (COLA) this year. Per a California Budget and Policy Center report, women and people of color represent a significant majority of SSI/SSP recipients due to labor market inequalities and rely on this benefit as their sole source of income. Further, grant amounts leave our most vulnerable community either homeless or struggling to stay housed.
Quotes from Advocates
- Jessica Stender, Co-Chair, Stronger California Advocates Network Chair; Senior Counsel, Equal Rights Advocates
“The 2020 Stronger California Women’s Economic Security Agenda is a justice agenda for all Californians. It advances the policies that workers, families, and people across genders need to live economically secure lives. This Stronger California community power has driven policy and budget wins over the past 5 years, helping millions of Californians and sparking similar change in states across the country.”
- Mariko Yoshihara, Legislative Counsel & Policy Director, California Employment Lawyers Association
“During this pandemic, when workers’ health and financial security are particularly at risk, we must ensure that these workers are not retaliated against for asserting their rights in the workplace, especially for reporting unsafe working conditions. AB 1947 will help strengthen retaliation and whistleblower protections for these workers by giving them more time to file an administrative retaliation complaint and by making it easier to secure legal assistance if they are fired for whistleblowing, by allowing them to recover their attorneys fees if they prevail.”
- Kim Alvarenga, Executive Director, California Domestic Workers Coalition
“Every day, domestic workers have to make the impossible choice between working in unsafe conditions or going without any income. In the midst of emergencies like the wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, the fact that domestic workers are excluded from Cal/Osha health and safety protections has life and death consequences. SB 1257 seeks to end the exclusion of domestic workers from Cal/OSHA to ensure that domestic workers have access to personal protective equipment, health and safety training and are protected against retaliation when they speak up for their own health and safety at work. Now more than ever we know that the health of the broader community depends on the health and wellbeing of the workers who take care of our elderly, our children and our homes.”
- Mary Ignatius, Statewide Organizer, Parent Voices
“What working mothers, student parents and child care providers have always known and the nation has come to understand is that child care is always essential. When the shelter in place order is lifted and working people are expected to return to work, the economy is dependent on a robust and thriving child care system to meet the needs of the child care workforce, working parents, children, and employers. We are grateful that the Governor protected and expanded affordable child care for parents and we are steadfast in ensuring not only that there are no cuts to child care providers payment rates but that they receive additional pay and support for taking on the risk of keeping their businesses open. Gender, race, and class inequities exist in our system and we must work together to mitigate the greatest harm.”
- Jessica Bartholow, Policy Advocate, Western Center on Law and Poverty
“Time limits in basic needs assistance programs are cruel and don’t help people achieve economic self-sufficiency,” said Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the Stronger California Coalition Steering Committee. “We can’t change federal law to remove the time limits in the program, but we shouldn’t be among the minority of states that impose a harsher time limit than required by federal law. AB 2567 will restore the 60 month time limit in TANF, the maximum allowed under federal law.”
- Jenya Cassidy, Director, California Work & Family Coalition
“We’ve seen a groundswell of support for AB 3216 because these protections are what working Californians need – the right to maintain their jobs and economic security when we’re sick, caring for a family member or new child or laid off due to the pandemic. This bill fills the gaps left by federal legislation and provides the support California workers and their families need.”
- Jenna Gerry, Senior Staff Attorney, Legal Aid at Work
“Ensuring that low-wage workers can take care of their family’s health without risking their job and economic security is more important now than ever. Access to job-protected paid family leave builds healthier families and communities, and is essential to protect public health as we reopen our economy. Thus, we are thrilled to support Governor Newsom’s Budget Proposal to expand job protection for all of California’s working families.”
- Sasha Feldstein, Economic Justice Policy Manager, California Immigrant Policy Center
“Including ITIN filers in the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC) will provide critical support to over 600,000 individuals, including over 200,000 children, and will target resources most effectively while reducing inequality, stimulating the economy, and counterbalancing recessionary impacts that hit immigrant communities and communities of color the hardest. Rather than a one-time handout, it would be a systemic change to fix structural inequities in our tax system that currently exacerbate inequality for immigrant workers.”