Governor Newsom Vetoes Controversial California Workers Comp Bill
Labor advocates heads are spinning a bit this month as Governor Newsom signed one pro-worker bill, while vetoing two others. In this article the experienced Workers Comp Attorneys at Cantrell Green discuss 3 important pieces of legislation aimed at protecting workers, whose fate was determined this week by Governor Newsom.
California Warehouse Workers Bill
This month (Sept. 2021) Governor Newsom signed into law a very controversial union-backed senate bill, aimed at remedying unfair warehouse speed quotas. These work-speed requirements came to light when reports surfaced of Amazon workers having to urinate in water bottles because they couldn’t meet their quotas if they took time to go to the bathroom.
The new law prevents employees from being penalized for complying with health and safety laws — such as going to the restroom — that may slow down the pace of their work. That law also requires warehouses to inform workers of their job speed standards and the consequences for failing to meet them.
California Farm Workers Bill
However, this month California Governor Newsom also vetoed a Senate Bill that would have allowed farmworkers to vote by mail in their union elections. This setback comes just months after the United States Supreme Court overturned a state law that had allowed union organizers to meet with farmworkers on growers’ property.
Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez (Democrat – San Diego) and many labor leaders expressed their frustration and disappointment with Gov. Newsom’s veto. “I’m truly devastated that Gavin Newsom vetoed the most important union organizing bill of the year,” tweeted Rep. Gonzales. “Happy Hispanic Heritage Month.”
California Anti-Discrimination Workers Comp Law
Recently Senate Bill 788 unanimously won approval in the California Senate by a 37-0 margin and in the California Assembly by a 77-0 margin. So, many were stunned when Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed this bill.
While other California laws prohibit discrimination against personal characteristics (e.g., age, gender, race) in such things as housing and employment, there is no such application of those laws to the comp system.
Senate Bill 788 stated that physicians cannot “apportion” the percentage of permanent disability awarded based on the gender, race, or other “personal characteristic” of the employee. Instead, SB 788 mandated that physicians apportion disability awards based solely upon the employee’s own medical history and medical evidence.
The list of SB 788 supporters included many of California labor unions as well as the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (of which Cantrell Green is a member). This list included: AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriff’s California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, California Professional Firefighters, California State Firefighters’ Association, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter Organization of SMUD Employees, and United Food and Commercial Workers, Western States Council
On September 28, 2021, Gov. Newsom’s issued a statement regarding his surprising veto of this bill. He claimed that while he supported efforts to “combat bias within the medical profession, this bill creates confusion with well-settled law, which is likely to result in increased litigation and subsequent delays to much-needed benefits to workers.”
He concluded by stating that “ongoing efforts by the Division of Workers’ Compensation to implement mandatory continuing education of medical-legal evaluators related to current anti-bias laws and apportionment training is better suited to achieve the intent of this bill.”
Many speculate that this veto was orchestrated by the employer-insurer coalition and their allies at the California Department of Industrial Relations – which still apparently have significant sway on Gov. Newsom.
Long Beach Workers Compensation Attorneys
The experienced workers compensation attorneys at Cantrell Green have been representing the rights of injured workers for more than 4 decades. We will constantly stay abreast of the California laws that affect our clients and their workers compensation benefits.
If you were injured or made ill in the workplace, we recommend that you speak with an experienced workers comp lawyer immediately. An experienced workers compensation lawyer can help you identify minor issues before they become major problems – and make sure that you not only receive your benefits now, but for years to come.
Your consultation with our workers’ comp lawyers is 100% confidential, and neither your employer nor your insurance company will be notified that you requested a consultation with us. Our lawyers will help you understand your rights and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum workers’ comp benefits for which you qualify.