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New Worker Protection Laws in 2013

Numerous Labor-backed bills and budget priorities won legislative approval in 2012 and many of those efforts either took effect on January 1st or will become law later this year. These new laws will benefit workers from all walks of life, including:

  • Struggling homeowners: California is now the first state that prohibits foreclosing on a family seeking a loan modification  thanks to the passage of AB 278 (Eng) and SB 900 (Corbett). Banks now face penalties for “robo-signing,” or the filing of false mortgage documents, and must offer a single point of contact for those seeking a loan modification. (Effective since January 1st, 2013. Major provisions of both bills sunset on January 1, 2018.)
  • Injured workers: California’s injured workers will now finally see some relief from the slashed benefits and delayed medical treatment of the 2004 Schwarzenegger reforms. SB 863 (De Leon),  the comprehensive workers compensation reform enacted last year, increases benefits for injured workers system-wide by $860 million (or 30%), cuts down delays in medical treatment, and stabilizes the insurance market by removing inefficiencies and excess profiteering from the system.  (Most provisions apply to injuries occurring on or after January 1st, 2013. Benefit increases were partially implemented on that date, with the remainder taking effect on January 1st, 2014. The Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation was given until July 1st, 2013, or December 1st, 2013, to finalize certain fee schedules and complete implementation.)
  • Injured construction workers: AB 1794 (Williams) prohibited construction contractors from underreport workers to cheat on workers compensation coverage. (Relevant state agencies must begin enforcing the bill on July 1st, 2013.)
  • Warehouse workers: AB 1855 (Torres) supports warehouse workers by prohibiting labor contracts in the warehouse industry that cause downward pressure on worker wages and conditions.  (Effective on January 1st, 2013.)
  • Call center workers: AB 2508 (Bonilla) stops the outsourcing of state benefit call center jobs by requiring that the work is done in California. (Effective on January 1st, 2013.)
  • Construction workers & students: SB 829 (Rubio) prohibits charter cities from banning project labor agreements and AB 1565 (Fuentes) extends prequalification standards to school construction. (SB 829 allows until January 1st, 2015 for charter ordinances predating November 1st, 2011, and AB 1565 applies to contracts awarded after January 1st, 2014.)
  • Temporary workers: AB 1744 (Lowenthal) will protect temporary workers from wage theft by requiring that their paystubs break down wage rates and hours worked by assignment and giving them client names and addresses. (Takes effect on July 1st, 2013.)
  • Farmworkers: AB 1675 (Bonilla) will mean new civil penalties for unlicensed farm labor contractors. (Effective January 1st, 2013.)
  • Commuters & construction/transportation workers:  Last year, the Legislature approved the needed state bond fund appropriations to draw down over $3 billion in federal funds to start construction of California's high speed rail. This project will not only build needed infrastructure, it will also create 200,000 new good jobs in construction, maintenance, and operations. (This legislative authorization will allow construction to begin this year.)