Bill blames employers for the plight of the working poor

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, May 15, 2014

AB 1792 (Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles) would require the Department of Finance, in consultation with several other state departments, to develop and publish a list of employers who have employees that utilize certain public assistance programs [namely MediCal, CalFRESH, CalWORKS and the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program] and the cost to the State to provide these benefits. The bill further calls for a report to the Legislature based on the data from the list that is intended to inform future policy decisions related to the working poor.

CMTA opposes this effort. While a discussion on this topic may be warranted, the information to be derived from the report is biased towards one outcome and therefore cannot result in an objective analysis of the issue.

Because the bill is narrowly focused on one single data point – the number of employees on public assistance – it cannot provide a comprehensive picture of the complex range of circumstances that result in a worker claiming public assistance benefits. Instead, it assumes that the wages and benefits an employer provides must be related to the number of workers utilizing public assistance.

For instance, eligibility and the amount of benefits received by an individual are typically determined based on household income. An employee making over $20 an hour could qualify for MediCal, and other benefits, if they are under 21 years of age or have a large family with only one working adult. AB 1792 would attribute the receipt of this benefit to the individual’s employer when the acceptance actually reflects a wide range of factors that are completely outside the employer’s control. The bill also ignores information as to why certain industries pay lower wages or provide fewer benefits than others and how rising costs due to overreaching state mandates and high priced benefit increases impact employment decisions.

AB 1792 is supported by the California Labor Federation, SEIU and United Food and Commercial Workers.  It is currently on the Assembly Appropriations Suspense file awaiting further action.

Read more Labor & Employment articles

Capitol updates archive 989898989