2015 UFCW State Council Legislative and Policy Accomplishments and Progress
In 2015, UFCW State Council kicked off and ambitious legislative and policy agenda to continue to add strategic value to the Labor Movement and gain measurable achievements for all grocery workers in California.
Throughout the year UFCW States Council organized three lobby days with our leaders and their local members to visit key state legislative leaders to discuss the importance of vital legislation such as AB 357 Fair Scheduling Act, providing a two-week advance notification of a retail workers’ job schedule; AB 359 Grocery Worker Retention Bill, securing a 90 day retention period for workers when a large grocery store is sold or transferred from one ownership to another; SB 3 Minimum Wage Increase with Cost of Living Index for all California Workers and AB 266, AB 243 and SB 643 Governor’s Medical Cannabis Compromise Legislation, establishing a regulatory framework going forward.
In April, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law our signature legislation AB 359 – Grocery Worker Retention Bill authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and co-authored by Senator Connie Leyva.
AB 359 – Grocery Worker Retention Bill is first in the nation legislation that fully protects retail grocery workers from being dismissed during massive mergers and corporate changes for 90 days. There’s over 380,000 grocery workers and over 20,000 grocery stores in the state where 41% of them are owned by Private Equity Firms.
In AB 357 – Fair Scheduling jointly authored by Assemblymembers David Chiu and Shirley Weber earned significant media coverage and support for retail workers to be informed of their work schedules at least two weeks in advance to help them manage their family and school demands or care for a loved one who is sick. The measure did not pass the Assembly Chamber but the lobbying effort, legislative hearings and investigative reporting pushed some employers such as Starbucks, Costco, Albercrombie and Fitch and Food4Less to modify their scheduling practices to benefit workers lives.
SB 3 Minimum Wage with CPI Indexing jointly authored by Senator Mark Leno, Kevin DeLeon and Connie Leyva passed the Senate and was converted to a two-year bill when it reached the Assembly. Discussions are ongoing between legislative leaders and the Governor’s Office of how best to proceed with the best policy given the unique California economy.
The historic Medical Cannabis Act signed by Governor Brown was a hard-fought fight in the state legislature where the State Council engineered a broad based coalition comprised of Cities, Counties, Law Enforcement, Allied Unions and Medical Cannabis Experts to successfully pass legislation that includes a mandatory Labor Peace Agreement for dispensaries and cultivation operators. A state medical marijuana regulatory framework will help protect consumers, sustain local control, collect vital taxes and provide the opportunity to represent Cannabis workers to gain stable wages, benefits and standards in health and safety.
Early this year, before all legislative bills were introduced UFCW State Council faced an urgent and immediate issue affecting the Northern California UFCW Trust Fund because of the ongoing impasse between Sutter Health Hospitals and Blue Shield Insurance. We were able expedite and coordinate joint Assembly and Senate legislative committee hearings calling for immediate resolutions to end the dispute between parties in the best interest of the workers and their families.
A reasonable settlement agreement was reached between Sutter Health Hospitals and Blue Shield that helped restore certainty in the UFCW Trust Fund.
Finally, this pass legislative session enabled the UFCW State Council to expand its presence and reach among a greater number of state legislators, anti-poverty advocates, women groups, Labor allies, business and academic experts fully integrating a forward thinking and progressive policy and legislative agenda and program.