Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
CA Labor Priorities and Business ‘Job Killers’ on a Collision Course
dan_walters
By Dan Walters, CalMatters Commentary
Published 2 months ago on
April 6, 2024

Supporters of SEIU Local 1000, rally in front of the Governor's Mansion in Sacramento on June 8, 2023. (CalMatters/Julie A Hotz)

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Dan Walters Profile Picture
Dan Walters

CalMatters

Opinion

An annual political ritual was repeated Wednesday when the California Chamber of Commerce released its 2024 list of “job killers” – nine bills that business executives consider to be the most burdensome.

“These proposals would add significant costs and burdens to California’s small businesses, creating an even more challenging business climate in our state,” chamber president Jennifer Barrera said in an accompanying statement.

Two hours later, the California Labor Federation released its list of high-priority legislation – 17 bills that it says will enhance the security and safety of California workers.

“Labor’s agenda is focused on empowering workers to shape the future of work, instead of allowing corporations and tech companies to continue playing by their own rules and amass wealth while workers struggle to get by,” the federation’s chief officer, Lorena Gonzalez, declared.

With that, two of the Capitol’s most influential interest groups renewed what has been one of California’s most enduring rivalries.

Senate Bill 1116: A Point of Contention

Somewhat surprisingly, only one bill appears on both lists. Senate Bill 1116, which would provide unemployment insurance benefits to striking workers, is nearly identical to legislation that was on the chamber’s 2023 job killer list and passed the Legislature only to be vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In his veto, Newsom cited the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s huge deficit, upwards of $20 billion borrowed from the federal government to cover jobless benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers are now paying higher payroll taxes to shrink the debt.

The labor federation says the new legislation, carried again by Sen. Anthony Portantino, a Glendale Democrat, “will help workers make ends meet and protect them from going into debt.” The chamber, on the other hand, says it would “effectively force employers to subsidize strikes at completely unrelated businesses,” and increase the unemployment fund’s debt.

Other Bills on the Chamber’s List

The chamber’s list of targets includes another unemployment insurance measure, Senate Bill 1434, which would raise taxes on employers to beef up the unemployment fund, although the extent of the increase is not yet specified. The measure, carried by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, a Los Angeles Democrat, would also create a new unemployment insurance benefit for workers who do not now qualify for them.

One reason for little overlap in the two initial priority lists is that many of the labor federation’s measures affect public employees, who are the majority of unionized workers in California, while the chamber concentrates on legislation affecting the private sector.

Historical Success of the Chamber’s Campaign

Since 1997, when the chamber launched its job killer campaign, it has defeated or neutralized about 90% of its targeted bills. In recent years, labor unions have gained more political clout as union-friendly Democrats captured about 75% of the Legislature’s seats.

Lorena Gonzalez was one of the most successful legislators in getting bills enacted despite being designated as job killers. She left the Legislature to become the labor federation’s top executive and the organization is now a more aggressive Capitol gladiator.

While serving in the Assembly, Gonzalez was one of the most successful legislators in getting bills enacted despite being designated by the chamber as job killers. She left the Legislature two years ago to become the labor federation’s top executive and the organization has since become a more aggressive Capitol gladiator.

Gonzalez cites legislation raising minimum wages for fast food workers and those in health care, increasing paid sick leave from three days a year to five and allowing legislative staffers to unionize, as union victories last year.

However, the chamber also had a fairly good record in 2023. It designated 19 bills as “job killers,” seven of which made it to Newsom, who signed four of them and vetoed three, including the one granting unemployment insurance benefits to strikers.

The fast food and health care wage bills had been on the chamber’s 2023 list but were removed after being amended to reduce their impacts on employers.

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 bmcewen@gvwire.com for consideration.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

DON'T MISS

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

DON'T MISS

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

DON'T MISS

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

DON'T MISS

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

DON'T MISS

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

DON'T MISS

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

DON'T MISS

Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Teaching Bomb-Making to Person Targeting Authorities

DON'T MISS

UCLA Police Arrest Young Man for Alleged Felony Assault in Attack on Pro-Palestinian Encampment

DON'T MISS

UAW Files Objection to Mercedes Vote, Accuses Company of Intimidating Workers

UP NEXT

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

UP NEXT

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

UP NEXT

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

UP NEXT

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

UP NEXT

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

UP NEXT

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

UP NEXT

Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Teaching Bomb-Making to Person Targeting Authorities

UP NEXT

UCLA Police Arrest Young Man for Alleged Felony Assault in Attack on Pro-Palestinian Encampment

UP NEXT

UAW Files Objection to Mercedes Vote, Accuses Company of Intimidating Workers

UP NEXT

Fresno County Fruit Trail: Rewards You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

17 hours ago

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

17 hours ago

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

18 hours ago

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

19 hours ago

Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Teaching Bomb-Making to Person Targeting Authorities

19 hours ago

UCLA Police Arrest Young Man for Alleged Felony Assault in Attack on Pro-Palestinian Encampment

19 hours ago

UAW Files Objection to Mercedes Vote, Accuses Company of Intimidating Workers

19 hours ago

Fresno County Fruit Trail: Rewards You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

19 hours ago

Rising Stars Tigirlily Gold Wows the Crowd at 93.7 KISS Country Concert

20 hours ago

Get Ready for the Indy 500 With This Look at Parnelli Jones, JC Agajanian & the Willard Battery Special

20 hours ago

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

The California Senate has unanimously passed SB 1432, a bill introduced by Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Merced) to provide a transparent and accou...

3 hours ago

3 hours ago

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

5 hours ago

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

5 hours ago

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

17 hours ago

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

17 hours ago

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

18 hours ago

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

19 hours ago

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

19 hours ago

Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Teaching Bomb-Making to Person Targeting Authorities

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend