Capitol Alert

California bill would require double pay on Thanksgiving

A turkey cooked in an indoor turkey fryer at Sacramento Fire Department Station 6 in Oak Park on November 2, 2009
A turkey cooked in an indoor turkey fryer at Sacramento Fire Department Station 6 in Oak Park on November 2, 2009

As Californians start brining birds and mashing potatoes, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, is again hoping to dish out meatier wages for Thanksgiving workers.

She plans to amend and revive stalled legislation guaranteeing double Thanksgiving pay so it would only apply to workers at large retail businesses that have more than 500 employees in California.

Earlier this year the Assembly rejected a version that would have covered more workers. Gonzalez said she hoped the amended version would fare better by focusing on big retailers.

“We are going to narrow it considerably to, really, what most of us will agree (are) the most egregious perpetrators of expanding this idea of working on the holidays,” Gonzalez said in an interview. “One after another of these large retailers are continuing to say it’s important for their bottom line to just be open on Thanksgiving.”

Initially, Assembly Bill 67 mandated higher wages for working on Christmas and Thanksgiving. It earned the animosity of business groups.

Seeking to assuage critics, Gonzalez stripped out the Christmas language and included exemptions for essential workers such as emergency responders. On the day of an Assembly floor vote, she appealed to other members by having pumpkin pies delivered to their offices. The bill still failed badly.

“It was too large a step for my colleagues,” Gonzalez said. “I heard them worry about small businesses, about the mom-and-pop Chinese restaurant or little taco shop that stayed open.”

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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