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State Senator Dave Cortese. (Photo: sd15.senate.ca.gov/biography)

Gov. Newsom Signs Flight Attendant Rest Break Bill Into Law

SB 41 went into law immediately after signing due to urgency of issue

By Evan Symon, March 24, 2023 12:53 pm

Governor Gavin Newsom signed a rare mid-session bill into law on Thursday, legally allowing flight attendants to have the right to negotiate meal and rest break benefits while complying with both state and federal law.

Senate Bill 41, authored by Senator Dave Cortese (D-Los Gatos), specifically fixes a long-time contradiction between federal and state laws. According to California law, employees are required to be off duty during meal and rest breaks and able to leave the work premises, which is impossible for flight attendants on an aircraft. Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires flight attendants to remain “on duty” at all times during a flight, including during meal and rest periods. Complicating matters even further is another federal law, the Railway Labor Act, which regulates labor relations for rail and air carriers and entitles employees to organize and bargain collectively.

SB 41 specifically states that meal and rest period requirements do not apply to an airline cabin crew employee if the employee is covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement under the Railway Labor Act if there is a provision addressing rest breaks. Flight attendants covered by a collective bargaining agreement would also be prohibited from filing a new legal action over alleged meal or rest break violations. Or, in layman’s terms, SB 41 enables compliance with California’s meal and rest break law only if cabin crews secured a Collective Bargaining Agreement that provides for breaks or appropriate compensation.

Senator Cortese wrote the bill due to the issue between federal and state law becoming so contentious that many airlines were either asking for exemptions or were considering rebasing flights crews out of California to get around the law. The bill itself was marked as urgent and fast-tracked through the legislature. With the clock ticking, the bill was introduced in late December, reached Committee Discussion last month, and was passed by both the Assembly and Senate in unanimous voted earlier this month.

“SB 41 shows that business groups can come together with organized labor to solve thorny problems resulting in keeping good-paying jobs here in California that might otherwise leave the state. This negotiation resolves conflicts and provides flight attendants with a benefit that makes them whole and keeps airline workers and passengers safe,” said Senator Cortese last month. “I applaud the commercial airlines, cabin crew labor representatives, and my colleagues for promoting compromise for the benefit of commercial aviation, its flight attendants, and the flying public.”

Governor Gavin Newsom  (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

This led to Governor Newsom signing the bill into law on Thursday, and immediately went into effect following the signing.

“Too often we see different groups staying in their corners and failing to negotiate. But with SB 41, commercial airlines worked together with cabin crew representatives to solve a difficult problem,” added the Senator in a statement on Friday. “SB 41 flew through the Legislature without opposition and gained Governor Newsom’s approval after business and labor groups joined forces and charted a course to link state law with federal regulations. The law preserves the rights of flight attendants, keeps good jobs from leaving California, and it keeps air passengers safe.”

Flight attendants told the Globe on Friday that the new law would be beneficial and that crews based here now wouldn’t have to leave the state.

“This may not seem like much to someone outside the industry, but we were really worried about how this would all end up,” said Gabrielle Norris-Kline, a California-based flight attendant, to the Globe on Friday. “You know, the law said different things, and the solution wasn’t simple. A lot of people said things like ‘So just work, take a break when you need to, and if something comes up, just pause it and go back to it once the problem is over  and, well, you can see how tricky that gets, especially with unions coming into the mix. Now, it’ all sorted, or as about sorted as it will ever be.”

SB went into effect on Thursday immediately after being signed into law by Governor Newsom.

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5 thoughts on “Gov. Newsom Signs Flight Attendant Rest Break Bill Into Law

  1. CA getting involved and meddling in federal matters. Typical of the buffoons in Sacramento. They make EVERYTHING more difficult in the business world. Never easier.

    1. Buffoons = Democrats.
      Democrats like Senator Dave Cortese are probably get payoffs from labor unions. In Cortese’s case, it’s probably the AFA-CWA (Association of Flight Attendants – Communications Workers of America). The only white male politicians left in the Democrat party are corrupt to the core.

    2. You mean the business world where the companies and corporations work people like animals and cut benefits and pensions? The same companies who CEO and shareholder are more respected than the employees? See what is going on in Europe? Oh that’s right no. The American slave owners (corporations) don’t want us to know about that. Wake up people.

  2. When the information cartel is in bed with the union cartel you get to ignore the real issues and concentrate on candy taxes and presumably landing a 757 in Modesto so the stewardesses can get off, walk around, smoke a joint…

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