California governor vetoes public-sector union release time bill

On Oct. 12, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) vetoed AB314, legislation proposing that all public-sector employers in the state grant union representatives paid time off, known as release time, for union activities.
What does the bill propose? If enacted, AB314 would repeal existing release time provisions in the state’s various public-sector labor laws and replace them with the following uniform requirements:
  • Public employers would be required to grant “a reasonable number of employee representatives of the exclusive representative reasonable time off without loss of compensation or other benefits for specified activities.”
  • Eligible activities would include investigating and processing grievance proceedings, negotiating with employers, testifying before the Public Employment Relations Board and other public bodies, and participating in new employee orientations.
Why did Newsom veto it? In his veto message, Newsom said, “Release time is certainly an important element in collective bargaining agreements, and I believe that employers and employees benefit when workers participate in labor relations. Yet, this bill is a one-size-fits-all approach. This issue is best left to the collective bargaining process so that governing authorities and public employee unions can best determine their priorities and needs at the bargaining table.”
What comes next? A two-thirds vote in each chamber of the state legislature (54 of the 80 Assembly members and 27 of the 40 Senators) is required to override the veto. AB314 initially passed the Senate by a vote of 27-11 and the Assembly by a vote of 64-12. Lawmakers have 60 days to act on the veto. California is a Democratic trifecta; Democrats control the governorship, 61 Assembly seats, and 29 Senate seats.
National context: AB314 is the fifth bill pertaining to public-sector union policy that has been vetoed this year. Newsom is the first Democratic governor to veto a public-sector labor relations bill approved by a Democratic legislature.
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