A bill by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher that would have increased mandatory paid sick days, died in committee last week.  Specifically, the bill, AB 2841, would have increased the number of mandatory paid sick days from 3 to 5 and raised the limitation on carry over to the following year to 5 days. Under this bill, an employee could potentially take 10 paid sick days in one calendar year.

Gonzalez-Fletcher, who was made infamous in 2016 for authoring the Ag Overtime legislation, chairs the Committee and opted to hold the bill on suspense rather than calling for a vote.  The surprise move follows several public statements made by the Assembly woman earlier in the year that changing the state’s sick leave was a priority. The question now becomes, if not sick leave, then what?

AB 1885, the CCM supported bill that would have created a nonpartisan working group to draft a model framework for a California resident worker program for agriculture fell victim to UFW’s political shenanigans.  The bill, authored jointly by Assembly Members Eduardo Garcia, Devon Mathis, and Anna Caballero and Senator Anthony Cannella, was intended will lay the groundwork for the state, with the Ag industry’s input, to initiate a dialogue with the federal government on a program that legitimizes unauthorized workers already living and working in the agriculture and service industries.

The UFW opposed to the bill because it did not “confront the Trump Administration” – a clear example of how the UFW does not serve the interests of employees.

The UFW’s political clout ultimately trumped good policy. The day the bill was scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Labor Committee, UFW lobbyists met with the Assembly Leadership. The result of that meeting was a directive to Assembly Member Garcia to not present the bill. To Mr. Garcia’s credit, he did present the bill and allowed the many stakeholder groups and individual farm workers from Imperial, Central Valley, and the Central Coast who traveled to the Capitol to voice their support for the bill in the hearing.  Ultimately, the Committee Chair did not call for a vote. Practically, this means the bill is dead, but the Committee members’ voting records won’t be blemished with a vote against farm workers.

As reported in last week’s Market Memo, momentum is building to pass SB 623, the Safe and Affordable Clean Drinking Water Act, as a budget trailer bill.  Last week, the Friant Water Authority voted to support the bill at its May Board meeting.  CCM’s Casey Creamer and Alyssa Houtby attended the meeting to answer the Board’s questions.

Friant’s support of the bill is critical as it further demonstrates the agriculture and water industry’s unity on the issue.  The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) of which Friant is a member, continues to aggressively oppose the bill, primarily due to concerns with collecting fees. Support from Friant and other water agencies and irrigation districts sends a message to the legislature that ACWA’s position is not representative of the entire water industry.

Next week, CCM Board members will be in Sacramento meeting with offices about SB 623/budget trailer bill.