AB 1654, another Union Exemption

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

If you are unfamiliar with PAGA, consider yourself lucky. It stands for the Private Attorney General Act and was put into law in 2004. This law deputizes a trial lawyer to enforce any labor law violation. If you are an employer and have a disgruntled employee, once they see a trial lawyer, they will find some type of violation and it will cost you.

The types of violations can include a late lunch, as much as a minute, wrongly calculated bonuses, and this calculation continues to change thanks to our judges, and anything in the 1,400 page Labor Law Digest constructed by our legislators. Last year there were close to 8,000 of these types of lawsuits and one company in the Sacramento area is facing over a million dollars to settle a case where the employee had the wrong employee ID number. 

It just takes one employee to start this and their complaint becomes a class action lawsuit and the trial attorney starts to examine everything to look for a bigger payday for themselves. The deputized trial attorney is guaranteed 100% of their fees and everything else is negotiated. In many cases employees end up with less than $ 50 each and the trial lawyers take home hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions.

AB 1654 is a carve out for unionized construction workers and they would be exempt from PAGA. Union employees in California make up about 15% of the workforce and half are state and federal workers. Out of the 7% left, about 2% of The total workforce would fall under this category. What about the other 98% of the workforce?

PAGA was created to protect the employees and based on AB 1654, it seems the Union does not want to protect its employees or they realize how bad this law truly is. Without a doubt this is the most widely abused labor law there is and real reform is necessary in 2019.

It is important the voters realize who is supporting and passing these types of bills. It was introduced by Assembly Member Rubio and coauthored by Assembly Members Caballero, Cooper, Daly, Gonzalez Fletcher, Gray, Grayson, and Salas.

With a pace of so many bills being being introduced and passed I really wonder if they understand what they are trying to pass. I recently got a call from an employer in Oakland and they had an employee work for them for 5 days and within two months they are facing a PAGA Lawsuit for late lunches.

I would ask the Assembly Members sit down and talk with myself and business owners who have had to live through one of these lawsuits. Please take the time to understand the real issues and not be influenced by your largest donors. This state needs to do what is right and start to listen to the small to medium sized businesses and see how difficult it is of late. We need your help and  cannot continue to add more labor laws to complicate our lives. Consider the blood, sweat, and tears that go on everyday with business owners all across California and listen to the restaurant owner you frequent, or ask the owner of your dry cleaner how they feel about our Labor Laws, or go visit some small Manufacturing companies in your district and see what they think.

The only one that can stop this bill now is Jerry Brown by not signing it. We can only hope our new Governor will see the atrocities of PAGA and help reform this heinous law.

Comment on this article


Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.