A California bill that would have allowed independent contractors to collectively bargain was taken off the table last week, and the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee newspaper reported that the bill, AB 1727 appears dead for 2016. However, a new version of the bill could appear in the future.
State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who sponsored the bill, said last week she asked for it to be held without consideration at a committee level.
“Now that first impressions are out of the way and we have the attention of the labor and business communities, it’s time for us to take the time this issue deserves to get this right,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “The facts about our changing economy are stark — estimates show as many as 20% of California’s workers are not covered by our minimum wage, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, sick days and employer-based healthcare — all because technology has changed the definitions of ‘work’ and ‘job.’”
The Assembly Judiciary Committee will continue to look at the legal issues, Gonzalez said. “I expect that through this collaboration, we will soon produce a version of AB 1727 that will protect workers and withstand the scrutiny this complex legal issue deserves.”
The California Chamber of Commerce described AB 1727 as a “job killer” bill that would have affected more independent contractor relationships than just high tech gig economy firms such as Uber and Lyft.
In December, Seattle approved a law that paves the way for independent contractor drivers to unionize, but the US Chamber of Commerce filed suit to stop it. That case is still going through the courts, although the city has filed a motion to dismiss the case, which is scheduled to be heard next month.
Also, last week, Uber announced it had agreed to settle a lawsuit where drivers claim they were improperly classified as independent contractors and not employees. That settlement would leave California and Massachusetts drivers as independent contractors, but it still needs court approval.