Seismic Activity
Oct 3, 2018


California’s legislative session came to a close this week, as Governor Jerry Brown signed (and vetoed) the final pieces of legislation of his gubernatorial career in Sacramento. On cue and on brand, Governor Brown enacted several influential measures affecting public and private sector employers up and down the state.



In a ceiling-breaking move, Governor Brown signed into law a measure requiring publicly-held corporations, whose principle executive offices are in California, to seat women on their boards of directors. Corporations in the Golden State will increase female board participation as soon as next year, by seating at least one female board member by December 31, 2019. By the end of 2021, companies with boards comprised of five seats or less will place two female board members, and three female board members for boards carrying six seats or more. Under the new measure, companies could face fines of up to $300,000 for non-compliance.



Brown also signed into law two measures that seek to bring new transparency to law enforcement. Under the first, agencies must release body camera footage within 45 days of a police shooting, or when an officer’s use of force causes death or great bodily harm. The second bill allows public access to police investigation records in use-of-force cases, as well as sustained investigations into on-the-job dishonesty or sexual assault inside law enforcement operations.



As the lights on the famous Las Vegas strip were dimmed in remembrance of last year’s tragic events, Governor Brown signed a measure that will allow sworn peace officers to file a California claim for workers’ compensation benefits if he or she is injured while in pursuit or protection of life or property within or out of the state. Last year, several hundred off-duty California police officers were denied workers’ compensation for injuries sustained at the October 1st music festival.



And, drawing the ire from U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions, Gov. Brown signed the state’s new law protecting net neutrality. The legislation bars internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking lawful content, amending customer speeds, or creating “fast lanes.” The law, the first in the nation since the FCC rolled back protections earlier this year, effectively restored the Obama-era rule in California. Hours after it was signed into law, the Justice Department filed a suit against it. We’ll keep tracking these front page stories.


Trade Wins


This week, the United States, Mexico, and Canada agreed to revise, rename, and extend the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Representatives of the three nations worked up until this weekend’s deadline, allowing leaders from the three nations to sign the accord by late November. NAFTA, which has been in place for 24 years, will be superseded by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, covering a region that trades more than $1 trillion annually.



The new accord involves improved access to Canada’s dairy market for U.S. farmers, stronger intellectual property provisions, and tighter rules of origin for auto production, aiming to have more car and truck parts made in North America. Starting in 2020, to qualify for zero tariffs, a car or truck must have 75 percent of its components manufactured in Canada, Mexico or the United States, a substantial boost from the current 62.5 percent requirement. There's also a new rule that a significant percentage of the work done on the car must be completed by workers earning at least $16 an hour, or about three times what the typical Mexican autoworker currently makes.


Making Our Way Around the Country


Speaking of consumer goods, Governor Brown signed into law a “first-of-its-kind” measure to resolve a long-running dispute over wages and working conditions for port truck drivers. Senate Bill 1402, which will take effect in January, will put big retailers, who pay freight bills, on the hook for labor violations by the cargo carriers. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement will publish a list of trucking companies who have failed to pay final judgments. Retailers hiring port trucking companies with final judgments would be liable for future state labor and employment law violations.



The nation’s first U.S. Department of Labor Certified Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Apprenticeship Program took off last week in Dallas, Texas. The U.S. Department of Labor, the FAA, a private Aerospace company, and Dallas County Community College District, collaborated on the nation’s first and most comprehensive civilian apprenticeship. The program’s emphasis on Airmanship and Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM) moves the UAS training pendulum back in the direction of traditional airman. Let’s hit the sky.



Do you know a great construction safety officer? The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will accept nominations for individuals to serve on its Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health. The group advises the Secretary of Labor on developing standards and policies affecting the construction industry. OSHA is seeking employee, employer, state safety and health agency, and public representatives with experience and expertise in construction-related safety and health issues to fill 14 vacancies.



As we noted, this week marks the last legislative session for California Governor Jerry Brown. Over his career, Gov. Brown signed nearly 20,000 bills, including 1,016 this year. He did veto 201 bills this session, including a measure that would have allowed bars to remain open until 4 a.m. It must be closing time. Congratulations, Gov. Brown on serving your 4th term as governor of the world’s 5th largest economy. Eureka! The desk is clear.


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