Capitol Alert

VIDEO: Business groups lobby Brown to veto subcontractor bill

Of 27 bills the California Chamber of Commerce labeled this year as “job killers,” just two made it to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

One would prohibit contracts that require someone to waive his or her right to pursue a civil action for a civil rights claim. The other would hold businesses liable when subcontractors violate wage, workplace safety or workers’ compensation rules.

Brown has not signaled how he will act on the bills. As he left the state Monday for climate change talks in New York, business groups held a thinly-attended news conference at the Capitol to step up pressure on the subcontractor measure.

Imposing liabilty for the behavior of subcontractors, they said, would increase costs and degrade the state’s business climate.

“Worker protection laws in California are already in place for labor violations and should be enforced,” said John Kabateck, executive director of the California chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. “The only thing this bill is going to do is hurt our state’s economy and jobs.”

The legislation, Assembly Bill 1897, by Assemblyman Roger Hernández, D-West Covina, is a priority of labor unions. Caitlin Vega, a lobbyist for the California Labor Federation, said the bill will help companies that do not abuse labor laws by holding accountable those that do.

“This bill is really about promoting responsible contracting,” she said. “This bill is going to help the companies that are following the law and being responsible, and this bill is going to help get companies out of the business that have a model of cheating workers.”