Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
California Employers and Unions Locked in Complex Battle Over State Labor Laws
By admin
Published 6 months ago on
October 18, 2023

Share

When Gov, Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 365 last week, he opened a new chapter in a decades-long political and legal war over California laws governing relations between employers and their workers.

Dan Walters with a serious expression

Dan Walters

CalMatters

Opinion

Briefly, SB 365 declares that when an employer loses a civil suit seeking to compel arbitration in a labor law dispute with a worker, the employer is not automatically allowed to freeze proceedings in the underlying issue by filing an appeal.

Thus, the measure weakens the long-standing ability of employers to require arbitration of such disputes, which flows from a pro-arbitration federal law, and is a significant victory for unions and lawyers who specialize in pursuing employment cases for workers.

Ironically, however, as the bill was winding its way through the Legislature this year, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that appeals of disputes over the applicability of arbitration in federal courts should freeze (stay, in legal jargon) the underlying cases.

In June, a legislative staff analysis of SB 365 warned legislators that the then-pending Supreme Court case “presents the potential for a more direct conflict with this bill.” The Supreme Court made its ruling on June 23, when the bill was awaiting a vote in the Assembly, but its sponsors proceeded anyway, finally sending it to Newsom on September 13.

Strongly Opposed by Business Groups

Business groups strongly opposed SB 365 and the state Chamber of Commerce placed it on its “job killer” list. But it was a high priority measure for unions and one of only a few such bills to be passed and signed this year.

Given the Supreme Court’s pro-arbitration ruling, it’s likely that business groups will challenge SB 365 in court, thus joining many other legal and political jousts over California labor laws.

A major front in the running conflict was the iconic 2018 state Supreme Court decision that millions of workers who had been classified as independent contractors were entitled to be treated as payroll employees.

That ruling sparked legislation (Assembly Bill 5) that specified, category by category, who would be affected. It also spurred a successful effort by rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft in 2020 to persuade voters to exempt their contract drivers.

Another front is a unique-to-California, 20-year-old law called the Private Attorney General Act, or PAGA, which empowers workers to file class-action lawsuits against employers alleging labor law violations.

A particularly contentious point of PAGA is whether workers who sign pre-employment arbitration agreements can still bring PAGA actions. In one case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled they cannot, but this year the state Supreme Court declared that in at least some instances they can, roiling the legal waters even more.

This year, meanwhile, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 2019 state law, sponsored by unions, making it illegal for employers to require potential employees to sign arbitration agreements, reversing an earlier ruling on the same issue. It declared that the law violated the federal law’s preference that employment disputes be settled by arbitration rather than lawsuits.

Finally, California business groups have placed an initiative on the 2024 ballot that would repeal PAGA altogether, alleging that it fattens lawyers’ wallets without doing much for workers. Tens of millions of dollars are likely to be spent by rival business and union groups, with support for the latter from employment attorneys.

Did you get all of that? There’ll be a test later – in November 2024.

About the Author

Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers. He began his professional career in 1960, at age 16, at the Humboldt Times. CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more columns by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary.

Make Your Voice Heard

GV Wire encourages vigorous debate from people and organizations on local, state, and national issues. Submit your op-ed to rreed@gvwire.com for consideration. 

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Fuzzy Little Adeline Will Purr You to Sleep

DON'T MISS

Boeing’s Financial Woes Continue, While Families of Crash Victims Urge US to Prosecute

DON'T MISS

Police Tangle With Students in Texas and California as Wave of Campus Protest Against Gaza War Grows

DON'T MISS

Meet the Valley Republican Predicting a November Win Over Esmeralda Soria

DON'T MISS

Wired Wednesday: Construction Workers on 2018 Fresno Unified Project Still Not Paid

DON'T MISS

Slumping California Risks Losing World’s ‘5th Largest Economy’ Title

DON'T MISS

Ukraine Uses Long-Range Missiles Secretly Provided by US to Hit Russian-Held Areas, Officials Say

DON'T MISS

Upward Bound: Edison High’s Garcia Headed to Johns Hopkins

DON'T MISS

Boxing Star Ryan Garcia Wants to Meet Netanyahu, Pledges Aid for Gaza Children

DON'T MISS

Fong Won’t Debate Boudreaux, but We Get Hot Topic Answers Anyway

UP NEXT

Newsom Criticizes Local Response to Homelessness. He Should Look in the Mirror.

UP NEXT

By Remembering the Genocide, We Can Help Rebuild Armenia

UP NEXT

Californians Worry About Crime, Setting up a Ballot Measure Showdown

UP NEXT

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

UP NEXT

Will State AG Rob Bonta Jump Into 2026 Race for CA Governor?

UP NEXT

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

UP NEXT

Carbon Capture Isn’t Nearly as ‘Green’ as Fossil Fuel Promoters Make It Sound

UP NEXT

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

UP NEXT

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

UP NEXT

Biden’s Embrace of Trump’s Tariffs Could Spell Trouble for His Reelection: Fareed Zakaria

Meet the Valley Republican Predicting a November Win Over Esmeralda Soria

14 hours ago

Wired Wednesday: Construction Workers on 2018 Fresno Unified Project Still Not Paid

15 hours ago

Slumping California Risks Losing World’s ‘5th Largest Economy’ Title

15 hours ago

Ukraine Uses Long-Range Missiles Secretly Provided by US to Hit Russian-Held Areas, Officials Say

17 hours ago

Upward Bound: Edison High’s Garcia Headed to Johns Hopkins

Local Education /

18 hours ago

Boxing Star Ryan Garcia Wants to Meet Netanyahu, Pledges Aid for Gaza Children

19 hours ago

Fong Won’t Debate Boudreaux, but We Get Hot Topic Answers Anyway

19 hours ago

Legislation Pandering to Tribal Casinos Is a Bad Bet for Fresno Cardroom Employees

20 hours ago

About 1 in 4 US Adults Over 50 Say They Expect to Never Retire, an AARP Study Finds

20 hours ago

Biden Signs a $95 Billion War Aid Measure With Assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

21 hours ago

Fuzzy Little Adeline Will Purr You to Sleep

Beautiful little mama Adeline once had a home, a warm bed and food, people to love her. But her humans failed to have Adeline spayed and whe...
Animals /

2 hours ago

Animals /
2 hours ago

Fuzzy Little Adeline Will Purr You to Sleep

14 hours ago

Boeing’s Financial Woes Continue, While Families of Crash Victims Urge US to Prosecute

14 hours ago

Police Tangle With Students in Texas and California as Wave of Campus Protest Against Gaza War Grows

CA District 27 Assembly candidate Joanna Garcia Rose
14 hours ago

Meet the Valley Republican Predicting a November Win Over Esmeralda Soria

15 hours ago

Wired Wednesday: Construction Workers on 2018 Fresno Unified Project Still Not Paid

15 hours ago

Slumping California Risks Losing World’s ‘5th Largest Economy’ Title

17 hours ago

Ukraine Uses Long-Range Missiles Secretly Provided by US to Hit Russian-Held Areas, Officials Say

Local Education /
18 hours ago

Upward Bound: Edison High’s Garcia Headed to Johns Hopkins

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend