Nicole Rice

Women's Caucus declares 2016 priorities

By Nicole Rice, Policy Director, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Feb. 12, 2016

The California Legislative Women’s Caucus announced their 2016 budget and policy priorities during a recent press conference. Focused on securing economic opportunity for all women and families, their legislative agenda includes four pillar priorities: equal pay and job opportunities; access to childcare; family-friendly workplaces; and building economic security by addressing poverty.

Included in their policy package is a measure by Senator and Caucus Chair Hanna Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) that would expand pregnancy leave. As described in their press release, this bill would require employers with five or more employees to provide up to three-months of protected pregnancy leave for both expectant mothers and fathers. Given that the language for this proposal has not yet been released, it is difficult to say just how this proposal will affect current law (other than the obvious impact to small businesses) but it is well known that California has some of the most favorable pregnancy leave laws in the nation.

Also contained in the package is the reintroduction of a CMTA-opposed proposal that was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown just last year. AB 1676 by Assembly Member Nora Campos (D-San Jose) would once again prohibit employers from making a legitimate inquiry into an applicant’s previous salary history, except this time the bill would apply to both public and private employers.

Manufacturers support the growth of career opportunities for women, especially in the industrial trades where there is an alarming shortage of technically skilled workers. And, we know the challenges all families face with trying to successfully balance career aspirations with the demands of the global workplace. We agree that California’s labor laws need to be modernized to keep up with the times, with the understanding that not all industries are the same and the dynamic nature of the Innovation Economy demands a greater level of flexibility than can be allowed under excessively restrictive [or socially motivated] labor policies.

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