California bill proposing public-sector union release time for union activities vetoed

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. The other four vetoed bills are:

  • Massachusetts H3854: This bill authorizes employers to disclose personal employee information to unions. It also permits unions to require non-members to pay for the costs associated with grievance and arbitration proceedings. It requires employers to provide unions with access to employees, and it allows for dues deduction authorizations to be irrevocable for a period of up to one year.
    • Adopted by Democratic legislature, vetoed by Republican governor. Veto overridden.
  • Montana HB323: This bill would prohibit employers from requiring employees to become or remain union members as a condition of employment. This bill would also disallow payroll deductions for nonmember fees paid to unions.
    • Adopted by Republican legislature, vetoed by Democratic governor.
  • New Hampshire SB18: This bill would allow public employees to authorize voluntary wage deductions for insurance or employee benefits offered in conjunction with the employees’ membership in a recognized union.
    • Adopted by Democratic legislature, vetoed by Republican governor.
  • New Hampshire SB148: This bill would require unions to notify new public-sector employees of their right to join or refrain from joining a union; the notification would also include the estimated annual cost of joining a union. It would also require employers to provide unions with certain personal information about the employees it represents.
    • Adopted by Democratic legislature, vetoed by Republican governor.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 103 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

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Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

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Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Florida S0624: This bill would repeal a requirement that school districts and collective bargaining units negotiate specified memoranda of understanding. It would repeal a requirement that unions include specific information in their applications for renewal of registration. It would also remove a requirement that certain unions petition the Public Employees Relations Commission for recertification.
    • Filed on Oct. 22.