Our View

Pair of job-killer bills must be stopped

By From page A6 | August 12, 2014

Two job-killer bills are wending their way toward the governor’s desk and must be shut down.

Assembly Bill 2416 by Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Santa Cruz, would allow an employee to record a lien on an employer’s real property or any property where an employee performed work for an alleged, yet unproven, wage claim.

Assembly Bill 1897 by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, would make businesses liable to third-party workers for any unpaid wages, workers’ compensation coverage, and occupational health and safety requirements despite having no control over the their work.

TO BE CLEAR, these are not just job-killers, they represent a threat to private property rights. They are overreaching, overbroad and place an undue burden on employers for actions that are beyond their direct control.

AB 1897 exposes businesses to liability for conduct outside of its control; forces companies to indemnify any company with which it does business; and has no requirement that the worker deal with the employer first, but rather, allows an aggrieved worker to file a lawsuit against the third party only, without seeking some sort of resolution with his or her employer.

AB 2416 allow an employee to seize an employer’s property by recording a wage lien before there’s a determination that the employee is entitled to the alleged unpaid wages; allows an employee to file a lien on the property of a third party where work was performed, even though the third party had no knowledge or control over the wages paid to or withheld from the employee; and violates due process because it does not allow a reasonable opportunity for an employer or the third party to prevent the taking of their property through a pre-judgment wage lien.

This legislation also interferes with the transfer or sale of property, which would severely disrupt both commercial and personal real estate transactions in the state, and will bog down the state’s legal system.

THINK OF IT THIS WAY: If you own a business and you hire another company to perform some work — say, painting — and an employee of the painting company has a wage dispute with the painting company, you are on the hook.

The employee can go so far as to place a wage lien on your company’s property, which would prevent you from conducting property-related transactions such as refinancing debt or getting loans where the property serves as collateral. The wage dispute does not even have to be valid for this to occur.

AB 2416 was approved May 28 by the Assembly, 43-27, with nine members of the Assembly not voting. Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, voted in favor of the bill.

AB 1897 was passed twice by the Assembly, both times with 51 votes, on May 28 and May 29. The initial consideration saw 25 no votes and three members with no recorded vote. The next day’s tally was 51-23, with five members who had no recorded vote. Yamada voted yes both times.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider both bills on Thursday.

YAMADA’S VOTES aren’t unexpected, but she should recognize the potential harm to local businesses should either or both of these bills become law.

These bills must now be stopped in the Senate. The vitality of businesses right here at home rests in the balance.

We are fortunate to have a state senator who should understand the danger these bills, in their current form, represents to the business community. Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, has stood her ground in the past against ramrod proposals such as these, breaking from her party and from the governor to support what she believes is right. We hope she does so again.

You can help Wolk make the right decision on these bills by calling her at 916-651-4003. Better yet, write to her by email at [email protected] or by mail at State Capitol, Room 5114, Sacramento, CA 95814-4900.

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