Labor unions across the nation are feeling the heat from the upcoming Janus litigation pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Although the future of collecting fair-share fees seems bleak, we have gained recent legislative victories for unions in the State of California worth celebrating.
AB119, enacted on October 3, 2017, gives unions an advantage communicating with and welcoming new members to the union. The law requires the state to provide unions access to all their new employee orientations.
This means CASE can meet with members just as they are starting at their new position so we can educate them on their rights and benefits. For example, we educate new members on the difference between sick/vacation and annual leave. Sick/vacation is the standard leave that many businesses use, utilizing a set amount of leave credits specified for either sick time or vacation. Annual leave is more flexible, allowing leave credits to be used for either sick or vacation. Annual leave also comes with enhanced NDI that allows BU2 members to take a disability/medical leave of absence and still receive 50% of their salary, with the option to supplement up to 75-100% of their salary with leave credits (see text box below). In addition, every remaining hour of annual leave time must be paid upon your retirement. We also educate members on their Weingarten Rights. Weingarten Rights allow members the right to have a union representative present at investigatory interviews that may lead to discipline.
AB119 also provides unions access to members’ contact information so we can communicate with our members and represent them more effectively. This will improve our ability to receive feedback from our members, organize, and combat the Janus litigation.
Another important piece of legislation, AB1711, was enacted on October 26, 2017. The legislation provides military benefits for our members in the State Military Reserve (SMR). It states that members of the SMR are to be granted leave for military service, will maintain all their rights and benefits incurred for their service, and are to be reinstated back to their state position once they return from duty.
We face a tough political landscape and a difficult fight ahead of us, but with the achievement of small victories such as these, we can persist in advocating for our members’ rights and continue to improve your salaries, benefits and working conditions.