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State: Calif.
Young: Call Their Bluff: [2021-07-29]

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration appears to be pressuring state Sen. Steven Bradford to trim his anti-discrimination bill, Senate Bill 788.

Julius Young

Julius Young

SB 788 would prohibit discrimination in apportionment due to factors of race, creed, national origin, gender, marital status, sex, and sexual identity or orientation. Originally, the bill included factors of age and genetics, but those were dropped in a June 17 amendment.

The bill was originally approved by the California Senate on June 2 by a 37-0 vote, and that was before the age and genetics language was dropped.

Worker advocates were not happy that age and genetics were dumped but still believe the remaining anti-discrimination bill is in the interest of fairness and justice.

On July 1 the bill was approved by the California Assembly by a 77-0 vote. The bill is currently back on the Senate, which must concur now that the age and genetics language was removed.

The July 1 Senate analysis indicates that no formal stakeholder opposition had been registered. Sponsors include the California Labor Federation, UFCW, Teamsters, firefighters and law enforcement groups.

But despite the universal legislative approval, WorkCompCentral reporter Mark Powell filed a story this week indicating that representatives from the Newsom administration have approached Bradford about further watering down the bill.

Whether Bradford will agree isn’t clear.

It seems quite surprising that at a time when Newsom is on very shaky political ground, his appointees are attempting to weaken this bill. Clearly, there are Division of Workers' Compensation and Department of Industrial Relations staffers still willing to sway to the tunes of the employer-insurer coalition that was so dominant under Govs. Schwarzenegger and Brown.

Recent polls on the recall have tightened. California workers’ comp has not been a recent prominent political issue and is unlikely to be one in the near future. However, the governor needs to motivate his base to get out to the polls on the recall. 

Does his administration really want to cross the unions and workers of California who “brung him to the dance”?

Julius Young is an applicants' attorney and a partner for the Boxer & Gerson law firm in Oakland. This column was reprinted with his permission from his Workers Comp Zone blog on the firm's website.