California Gov. Gerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have required full-time contractors at University of California campuses to be paid the same as comparable UC employees. Separately, a UC supplier is under federal scrutiny for allegedly underpaying contingent workers.
Senate Bill 376 was introduced in February by Senator Ricardo Lara. “Recent research has shown that [UC contractors] are paid as much as 53% less than comparable UC employees,” Lara wrote in an opinion piece for the Orange County (Calif.) Register newspaper. “Contingent workers are also twice as likely to live in poverty and rely on food stamps and Medi-Cal. The state has a vital interest in addressing poverty and reducing the demands on our taxpayer-funded social safety net.”
“The effort to provide increased compensation to those who work for UC — either directly or on a contract basis — is well-intentioned, but I’m not prepared to embrace the provisions of this bill,” Governor Brown said in his veto message.
The UC system, which opposed the legislation, announced a plan to address contingent worker pay in July, mandating the minimum wage for UC contractors to increase to $15 by Oct. 1, 2017. Gov. Brown referred to this program in his veto message, and encouraged the university system to provide a transparent accounting of its contracts and clearly demonstrate how the interests of all its lower paid workers are being protected.
Separately, the Los Angeles Times reports federal authorities are investigating allegations that a contractor underpaid contingent workers assigned to clean up after UC Berkeley sporting events. Under California law, a buyer of staffing services can be on the hook if its suppliers do not pay their contingents appropriately. However, government agencies are exempt.