Capitol Alert

Assembly narrowly passes bill requiring extra Thanksgiving pay

A revamped California bill mandating double pay for Thanksgiving shifts squeaked out of the Assembly on a 41-30 vote Wednesday.

A more expansive version of Assembly Bill 67 fell far short last year. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, won over formerly opposed members with amendments that would limit the bill’s application to large retail and grocery businesses with 500 or more employees. Gonzalez called those types of stores the worst perpetrators of a trend of staying open during holidays, arguing that many employees work on Thanksgiving for fear of losing their jobs otherwise.

“We’re talking about a day where traditionally in our country we have placed an incredibly high value on the ability to gather with your family,” said Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, saying the bill would send a message to workers that “we value you, we support you, and you are worth double time.”

An earlier version of AB 67 failed on a 29-34 vote in the Assembly last June.

“Workers who are forced to work or possibly lose their job on Thanksgiving should at least be compensated at the industry standard,” Gonzalez added.

Major business groups like the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Retailers Association opposed the bill. Republican lawmakers said it would unfairly burden businesses.

“We’ve merely said big is bad and big is 500, and therefore we are going to dump again on folks like Walmart, folks like grocery stores,” said Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine. “We will find those stores less able to serve their communities.”

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