A union-backed bill to give state employees a little more protection if theyre fired for going AWOL turned into a gut check for some majority Assembly Democrats last week.
Republicans tried to turn debate over Assembly Bill 855 into criticism of existing law that allows state workers to miss five days without explanation before they can be dismissed.
Its this kind of (law that) creates ire in our districts against state employees, and many of them are good, hardworking people, said Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point.
The bill, however, deals with how state workers can be reinstated. Currently, they must explain their absence to an administrative judge and show proof they can and want to work. The law doesnt give a judge leeway to consider whether an employer improperly terminated an employee, say, by firing them too soon. The measure by Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, allows for that.
Democrats initially fell a few votes shy of the required majority, but it eventually went to Gov. Jerry Brown.