Law requiring “union neutrality” struck down again

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Oct. 14, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

But funding needed for more legal filings

A federal court on September 7 struck down a major pro-labor law that barred California employers from using money from state grants and contracts for fighting off union organizing campaigns. CMTA vigorously opposed the bill, AB 1889 (Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles), passed in 2000.  AB 1889 prohibited businesses that receive more than $10,000 in state funds from using that money to try to influence their employees, or those of subcontractors, on whether to support a union.  It also required those companies to maintain detailed records on how the public money is spent.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said that AB 1889 threatened the free-speech rights of employers, created "heavy" record-keeping burdens and overstepped the National Labor Relations Act, which governs union activity.

"The statute chills employer speech on the merits of unionism," the court ruled.  It "pushes employers to a policy of neutrality, which in turn helps facilitate union organizing."  

This decision upholds an earlier 2004 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that AB 1889 was invalid and preempted by federal law.  

The Attorney General=s office and the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO have petitioned the 9th Circuit for a re-hearing en banc (i.e., before the full eleven-judge panel of the 9th Circuit).  

The Court of Appeal has requested full briefing on this issue, as well as a reply to both petitions filed by the AG and the AFL-CIO, which is due October 25.

Unions have placed a high priority on this legislation from the outset (both in California and across the nation). The California Health Facilities Association and others have borne the cost of litigation for four years. It is important that all business interests support the litigation to defend these victories. Your contributions in the $1000 to $10,000 range would be greatly appreciated.

For more information on the status of the litigation and how to contribute, please contact Dorothy Rothrock at or call 916-498-3319
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