Proposed California Constitutional Amendment For The Right To Organize And Negotiate With Employers
Topics: Union-Management Relations
Last week, Senate Constitutional Amendment 7 (“SCA 7”) passed the California Senate Labor Committee. This provision, if placed before the voters and passed, would add Section 1.5 to Article XIV of the California Constitution. Specifically, SCA 7 would add to the California Constitution that Californians have the right to join a union and to negotiate with their employers, through their legally chosen representative, to protect their economic well-being and safety at work. It would also prohibit, after January 1, 2023, the passing of any statute or ordinance that interferes with or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and workplace safety.
Because it proposes a change to the state constitution, SCA 7 will require the approval of two-thirds of the members in each chamber before it is placed on the statewide ballot, potentially in the March 2024 statewide primary election.
SCA 7, which was authored by Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana), and currently has a large number of co-authors, is jointly sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, the California Labor Federation, and California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond. SCA 7, if passed, would add California to the five other states (New York, Hawaii, Missouri, New Jersey, and Illinois) that protect worker collective bargaining rights in their state constitutions.
The California Policy Center, in a letter from Lance Christensen, its Vice President of Government Affairs opposing SCA 7, warned: “If SCA 7 were to become law, union lawyers could argue that a decision to close a school, build a road, deploy police to protect neighborhoods, or improve the state’s infrastructure affects the ‘economic wellbeing’ of state and local workers. Even if voters throw out union-backed officials, their elected replacements would be helpless to change government policy against union demands; the will of employers and employees will be subservient to special interests and California will become the state where democracy goes to die.”
SCA will next be heard in the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments in the coming weeks. We will continue to monitor the developments and report any updates here on our blog. For now, employers should stay tuned and make sure you are subscribed to our California Labor and Employment Law blog HERE to get the most up-to-date information directly to your inbox. If you have questions, contact your CDF attorney, the author of this blog, or any attorney in any one of our five statewide California offices.