March 10, 2023
After three years on the job as an Administrative Assistant 3 at UCLA’s Radiology Department, Carly thought she and her managers had reached an understanding. A Teamsters 2010 member since 2018, Carly was used to working through her two daily 15-minute breaks to get work done during her 2:00 pm to 11:00 pm shift. Coverage was limited and she knew her work was important, but should she need to use her breaks, she’d be able to.
When she became pregnant, she discovered that however much Carly respected her work, management didn’t respect her. She began receiving emails asking why she wasn’t at her desk when she’d gone to use the bathroom. Her supervisors and director began harassing her, accusing her of slacking off work when she tried to take the break time guaranteed by our Teamsters contract.
Carly quickly turned to her Teamsters Union Representative, who helped her file a grievance against her managers for violating Carly’s contractual right to rest breaks. But as her Union Representative knew, Carly’s problem was far from unique. No matter how many grievances our Union filed against UC Health Centers for break violations, the violations just kept coming. The UC needed a stronger kind of reminder.
That reminder is SB 1334, a brand-new state law that came into force on January 1 which grants all public sector healthcare workers, including UC Health Teamsters like Carly, legal protection for the same rest and meal breaks given to private sector healthcare workers: one 30-minute meal break for shifts over five hours (and a second 30-minute break for shifts over ten hours) plus two 10-minute rest breaks per eight hour shift (our two 15-minute rest breaks, guaranteed by our Teamsters contract, will remain in place). No longer can Carly’s managers play ignorant about her contractual rights: the State of California sided with the workers.
“This law makes it clear that our rest and meal breaks are just as important as any other worker’s,” Carly said over the phone while preparing for her upcoming baby shower. “Management has to respect our needs when we’re on the job.”
SB 1334 is just one of the 997 bills signed into California law by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2022. While most of those bills represent minor fixes to existing state code, many of this year’s new laws were big wins for the California labor movement that will affect workers across the state.
We won powerful new protections for UC and CSU Teamsters in 2022, guaranteeing everything from transparency in hiring to stiff fines for public sector Union-busting:
SB 931, initiated by Local 2010, sponsored by the California Teamsters PAC and first introduced by Senator Connie Leyva, significantly beefs up legal protections for UC and CSU workers against employer Union-busting. The new law imposes hefty penalties on public employers who unlawfully attempt to discourage employees from joining or participating in a union, including $1,000 per affected employee and up to $100,000 in fines per complaint. Under prior rules, the only available punishments for illegal actions were a cease-and-desist order requiring an employer to post notice of its violations and, in rare cases, an order to cover the Union’s attorney fees. Now, SB 931 sets a nationwide standard for public sector labor law enforcement!
SB 1044, sponsored by California Teamsters PAC and the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, makes it illegal for any employer to retaliate against an employee who leaves or refuses to report to work during an emergency situation. Emergency situations as described in the law include active shooter situations, wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters (not including health pandemics). SB 1044 does not apply to first responders, disaster service workers, and healthcare workers providing direct patient care and services. All other California employees are now legally entitled to freedom from retaliation when acting to protect their safety during an emergency, including the right to access their cell phone in order to contact emergency assistance, communicate with family, and access information on the situation.
Other new California laws relevant to Teamsters workers include:
- SB 951 increases the wage replacement rate for State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave, from 60% to 90% of a worker’s income.
- SB 1162 requires employers with more than 15 employees to include the pay scales of open positions in job postings and to provide, upon an employee’s request, the pay scale for the position held by the employee.
- SB 1477 limits the amount of a worker’s paycheck that can be seized through court-ordered wage garnishment. $744 of income per week is now protected from garnishment, up from $600, and only 40% of wages over that limit are allowed to be seized, down from 50%.
- AB 1041 expands the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Healthy Workplaces Healthy Families Act (HWHFA) to allow employees to use CFRA and HWHFA leave to care for a person designated by the employee, regardless of blood relation. Employers may limit employees to one “designated person” per 12-month period.
- SB 191 guarantees Union access to new employees even in remote or hybrid work situations by allowing Union representatives to hold in-person meetings at a worksite if an employer does not hold in-person new employee orientations.
- AB 1751 extends workers’ rights to claim Workers’ Compensation benefits when they test positive for COVID-19 during a COVID-19 outbreak at their workplace.
The California Teamsters Public Affairs Council—supported by Joint Council 7, Joint Council 42, and every Teamster who attends a rally or signs a petition—fights year-round for the rights and protections owed to every California Teamster. On behalf of our Teamsters brothers and sisters in every industry, California Teamsters won big with these new laws affecting our fellow Teamsters Locals in California:
- AB 1851 makes clear that public works construction projects must pay prevailing wage on-hauling of materials for paving, grading, and fill.
- AB 2048 requires the State to create a statewide waste haul franchise agreement database so that all local franchise agreements for waste and recycling are easily accessible to the public.
- AB 2530, co-sponsored by the California Labor Federation, ensures healthcare coverage for striking private sector workers.
Local 2010, the Joint Councils, and California Teamsters PAC will fight for workers this year, making sure that California continues to lead the nation in protections for workers and families. Not only must our contractual rights be protected, but our rights to privacy, to health and safety, and to respect in the workplace. Employers don’t create and maintain dignified workplaces out of the goodness of their hearts: Like Carly Jones, we always have to be ready to fight for what we’ve earned!