Stop Adding Labor Laws

Tom Manzo

President, Timely Prefinished Steel Door Frames and President and Chairman of the Board at California Business and Industrial Alliance


If you build a 1,000 square foot home, and add a room, and then another, and add a floor, and another floor, what will happen? The home will collapse because the foundation was not built for such a big house. This is what has happened to the 1,039 page Labor Law digest 2017 edition, and yes more has been added for 2018.

Our lawmakers need to stop, read and understand what we have prior to adding anymore laws. The only bills that should be allowed are ones that reduce, reform, or make that book smaller and easier to understand.

Many laws have been added to original laws, and added again, and again. It seems with the abundance of bills introduced and passed yearly lawmakers are not taking the time needed to make an educated decision. Take meal and rest breaks as an example as they have been the heart of most of the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) related lawsuits. This takes up 23 pages and is very confusing on when a lunch for a non-exempt employees supposed is to be taken, before the end of the fifth hour? Or at 4 hours and 59 minutes?

Take it from my experience of being involved in a PAGA suit, have your employees start punching out for lunch at four hours and fifty minutes. There are nine meal and rest break exemptions for different types of industries although it appears to be a trap only the trial lawyers are aware of. Keep in mind if the employees are in a union and have a collective bargaining agreement then the rules don’t apply.

Non-discretionary bonus is another issue that employers are continually getting sued under thanks to PAGA. If you give your employee a bonus for $100 for a 40 hour work week, and the employee worked 50 hours, then you need to make sure you are paying overtime on the bonus or you will have a major violation. Here’s one example of overtime for mechanics–if they are payed a flat rate for specific duties and work more that 40 hours, you need to calculate overtime on the flat rate, more calculation examples are in the book.

Organized labor in the California is roughly at 15% of the total workforce. (Half of those in unions for the government).  My question is why would they have an influence on the labor laws, especially if they do not need to follow them due to a collective bargaining agreement?

Take a new labor law that will be going into effect in 2018, SB-306 permits the Labor Commissioner and the complaining employee to seek temporary injunctive relief addressing retaliation during the investigatory phase of the retaliation complaint process. The bill directs the courts to consider the “chilling effect” of the alleged retaliation on other employees asserting their workplace rights. The law would authorize employees to seek an injunction to keep their job. It is one thing for an employee to sue for retaliation and get damages if they win, it is another to be able to seek injunctive relief to prevent a termination – imagine having to continue to employ that person after such a proceeding. Most likely this will be another “money grab” for the attorneys, let’s sue for this and have the employer settle before it goes to court.

This law is considered a victory for the labor unions but for small to medium sized businesses it will be another disastrous law and an expense employers just cannot take on.

We recently had to make a decision on what our IT person would be paid due to new minimum wage/salary requirements for 2018. It is so complex and convoluted we had to contact an attorney to see if our IT person met the requirements and it required three different calls. Why on earth would we have a law that requires minimum wage or salary for an IT person? Apparently the state feels the need to tell us how much to pay a professional, no sense in letting the ideas of supply and demand determine it.

The California Business and Industrial Alliance has been formed to put an end to labor laws that are hurting California. We are making a stand and it is time to quit adding new laws and start reducing the ones we have. The majority needs to makes decisions when it comes to workforce rules, not the minority. How about letting us start making labor law decisions on your collective bargaining agreements? It would only be fair since organized labor is making decisions for us.

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