A bill to create a 4 day, 32 hour work week in California was put on hold Monday after failure of the bill to meet committee deadlines for consideration, as well as overall lack of support.
Assembly Bill 2932, authored by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) would have moved the hourly overtime rate of 1-1/2 times the amount of an employees pay from after 40 hours a week to after 32 hours a week. In addition to multiple overtime rules changes as a result, AB 2932 would also prohibit employers from reducing an employee’s regular rate of pay as a result of the reduced hourly workweek. Employers with less than 500 employees in total would be exempt from AB 2932.
The controversial bill has been frequently challenged and highlighted by news outlets since being initially proposed in February. Both Garcia and Low wrote the bill to increase the quality of life for employees, to help wage and pay increases, and to help stop the moving and shuffling of employees post-pandemic.
“We’ve had a five-day workweek since the Industrial Revolution,” said Garcia last month. “But we’ve had a lot of progress in society, and we’ve had a lot of advancements. I think the pandemic right now allows us the opportunity to rethink things, to reimagine things.”
Opponents of the bill quickly pointed out numerous flaws and noted that the bill was just acting as a backdoor method to increase the minimum wage, would exempt union businesses, would add a greater burden to businesses, and would lead to a drastic number of hours being cut by employees in many fields to get below the 32 hour mark. The California Chamber of Commerce even put it on their job killer bill list as a result.
In March, AB 2932 went through large amendment changes to help make the bill more palatable to Assembly members. However, besides being sent to the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, it remained mostly talk. Many Assembly members were afraid of supporting the bill, especially during an election year, with Democrats joining Republicans in voicing concern. In the last few months, the bill even made national and international news, never having been tried outside of some European countries before.
With support still low, the bill missed an April 29th deadline for legislative policy committees to send the bill ahead to fiscal committees, essentially shelving the bill for this year, while also keeping it open for a return next session.
AB 2932 done for the session
“I am disappointed that AB 2932 is not moving forward this year, but we must continue to elevate the conversation about the 4 day work week and in general ensuring our workforce has a better work life balance,” Garcia said in a statement on Monday. “There have been so many societal advances in the last 100 years. It doesn’t make sense that we are still holding onto a work schedule that served the industrial revolution. It’s long overdue that this progress is shared with our workforce which deserves an improved quality of life. This has been true for a while, but the pandemic and the Great Resignation have made it crystal clear the time is now to figure out how we return to better and not what we had before the pandemic.”
CalChamber, the main opponent to AB 2932, announced that the bill and several other job killer bills had either ended completely or stalled on Monday.
#JobKiller Update: #AB1651 #AB2764 & #AB2932 are dead for the year, while job killer #SB1301 has been gutted & amended & will now offer tax credits for clean energy. Job killer #AB1771 is stalled.#CaliforniaLegislature #CaliforniaEconomy https://t.co/d6evh9ktSE
— CalChamber (@CalChamber) May 2, 2022
“The bill significantly increases labor costs by imposing an overtime pay requirement after 32 hours and other requirements that are impossible to comply with, exposing employers to litigation under the Private Attorneys General Act,” said CalChamber on Monday.
Others noted that while the bill was out now, it could still come back.
“This isn’t the end of AB 2932,” explained Brenda Paxton, a workers advocate and wage consultant, to the Globe on Tuesday. “Low and Garcia got a lot of press over this and the initial shock of it will make it way less surprising should it go up again. Plus they will likely add more amendments and keep trying to get more to vote on it should it reach a Committee vote.”
“For those who don’t like this idea, they won a huge battle. But the war may still go on to next year, especially if labor situations change or there is a big shift during the election. Time will tell.”
As of Tuesday, neither Assemblyman Low or Assemblywoman Garcia have announced a commitment to bring the bill back up next year to try again for a Committee vote.
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