SACRAMENTO – Following today’s swearing-in ceremony of the 2023-24 State Assembly, Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D – Inglewood) joined by 26 co-authors from the Assembly and State Senate introduced AB 1, which would allow legislative staff the choice to join a union and collectively bargain for wages, benefits and working conditions.
While the state legislature commonly considers laws affecting public and private employees in California, the legislature itself remains the only branch of state government that does not allow their employees to have the choice to unionize. Legislative staff serve as at-will employees that are exempt from state civil service laws and denied the right to collectively bargain for wages, benefits, and working conditions. This has led to generations of legislative employees being subject to low and inequitable pay and subject to hostile work environments with no recourse other than being forced to seek employment outside of the legislature.
AB 1 will give non-supervisorial legislative staff the choice to organize and seek representation by a union that will collectively bargain for wages, benefits, and working conditions. This bill would impact Senate and Assembly employees equally. Pending enactment of AB 1, the Senate Rules Committee, the Assembly Rules Committee or the Joint Legislative Rules Committee (the administrative offices of the legislature) would establish procedures to implement the collective bargaining process for legislative employees. Wages and benefits would be negotiated within the budgetary restrictions approved by voters through Proposition 140.
As introduced, AB 1 is co-authored by Assemblymembers Joaquin Arambula, Tasha Boerner-Horvath, Isaac Bryan, Sabrina Cervantes, Mike Fong, Laura Friedman, Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Brian Maienschien, Kevin McCarty, Ash Kalra, Eloise Gomez-Reyes, Alex Lee, Matt Haney, Luz Rivas, Robert Rivas, Miguel Santiago, Phil Ting, Chris Ward, Jim Wood, and State Senators Josh Becker, Dave Cortese, Maria-Elena Durazo, Lena Gonzalez, John Laird, Josh Newman and Scott Wiener.
“Legislative staff aren’t looking for special treatment. They are looking for the same dignity and respect afforded to all represented workers,” said Assemblymember McKinnor. “We ask our staff to write legislation and staff bills that expand collective bargaining rights for other workers in California, yet we prohibit our own employees from that same right. It is time to stand up for our staff and create a fair, equitable, and safe work environment for our hard-working and dedicated legislative employees. I am proud to start this first day of the new legislative session standing up for our hard-working and dedicated staff and finally giving them the full dignity that they deserve.”
AB 1 will be considered by the State Assembly in the Spring of 2023.