Organized labor seeks unwarranted, de facto exemption from CPRA

In an attempt to silence anti-union activists, the time, date and place of public employee orientations would be made secret under AB 2970, a bill authored by Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) and sponsored by the California Labor Federation.

Last year, California law was amended to mandate that every public employer provide union representatives with mandatory access to its new employee orientations. Now, the Labor Federation wants to ensure that the time, place and date of the meeting is kept secret to prevent anti-union protesters from getting access to the same information.

The Sacramento Bee recently reported on the measure, which cleared the Assembly by a 52-18 vote. The Bee noted that the bill was opposed by lobbyists representing cities, counties, school districts and special service districts. Dorothy Johnson, a lobbyist for the California State Association of Counties, told The Bee, “We don’t think it’s necessary by any means.”

CNPA agrees, and has submitted a letter of opposition to AB 2970.

Organized labor justifies the need for the bill as protecting employees from terrorism or workplace violence. They cite the San Bernardino terrorist attack, and the March shooting at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville as two examples of situations that the bill would address. The problem is that neither of these situations involved employee orientations.

The legislative findings in the measure state that keeping the location of the orientation secret “balances the right of the public to access writings of public agencies while protecting the privacy of employees.” In its letter, CNPA argued that the California Constitution demands that a law limiting public access by justified by more the pure speculation to satisfy the requirement that a measure’s legislative findings support the limitation on access.

The bill will be heard in the Senate Public Employee and Retirement Committee on Monday, and later in June, in the Senate Judiciary Committee.