Governor Gray Davis - Digital Library
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Opportunity for all Californians: Labor

After years of neglect, California's government is working for working families once again. Thanks to Governor Davis, California has the only paid family leave program in America and the nation's strongest workplace safety laws.

Wages & Benefits
Governor Davis has fought hard to defend the value of a hard day's work. The Governor:

• Saved the eight-hour workday and restored overtime pay while allowing employees to choose alternative work schedules.

• Raised the minimum wage to the 4th highest in the U.S. from $5.75 to $6.75.

• Moved California's prevailing wage from among the weakest to the strongest in the US, expanding prevailing wages to all aspects of public works projects.

• Required employers who provide sick leave for employees to permit employees to use sick leave to care for sick relatives.

• Expanded apprenticeship programs and quality control of those programs.

• Appointed dozens of labor representatives to the Davis Administration.

• Improved the way retirement benefits are calculated for members of the State Teachers Retirement System.

• Extended health benefits to all domestic partners of state employees.

Work Place Safety & Worker Protections
Governor Davis has been committed to reversing the starvation of California's workplace safety and labor enforcement divisions. He has signed more legislation protecting workers rights than his two predecessors combined.

• Increased funding for labor law enforcement and workplace safety.

• Required employers to give workers and specified government agencies 60 days notice of a mass layoff, relocation or termination.

• Toughened penalties for first time and repeat violations of health and safety laws, making them the toughest in the nation.

• Created California's first Labor & Workforce Development Agency to strengthen labor law and occupational safety enforcement, workforce development and worker benefits like unemployment and disability insurance.

• Created the Office of Low Wage Workers within the Agency offering special education programs agriculture, restaurants, garment and janitorial workers.

• Launched special safety inspection programs in some of the state's most hazardous industries, including construction and agriculture.

• Required nurse-to-patient ratios for general acute care hospitals and prohibited hospitals from assigning unlicensed personnel to perform certain hospital functions.

• Approved funding to identify and address workplace hazards for young workers.

• In the wake of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks - prohibited employers from punishing employees for taking time off to perform emergency duty as a reserve peace officer or emergency rescue personnel.

• Signed legislation preventing employers from replacing older, higher paid workers with younger, lower paid workers just to cut payroll.

• Prohibited employers from using state monies to discourage union organizing.

• Required mandatory mediation in negotiations that have stalled between agricultural workers and growers.

• Signed the most significant package of agricultural labor laws enacted in more than 20 years. Including: enhanced civil and criminal penalties for wage and hour and health and safety violations; tax credits for farmworker housing; increased family services for farm workers and their families; and stronger safety regulations for farm labor vehicles.

• Toughened licensing requirements for the state's farm labor contractors and established an office of the labor commissioner in Fresno.

• Established a racetrack backstretch employee labor relations process; Required the CA Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to adopt housing standards for housing at racetracks.

Job Training & Unemployment Assistance
Today, Californians have more access to job training and education programs than ever before. Governor Davis has:

• Raised unemployment benefits for the first time in a decade.

• Expanded sick leave and increased disability insurance benefits for the first time in 10 years.

• Reformed the state's workers compensation system by increasing benefits for injured workers while making the system more efficient and placing a priority on return-to-work programs.

• Accelerated the release of transportation bonds and construction bonds for schools to help create jobs for unemployed Californians.

• Initiated innovative job training programs for teachers, nurses and bioscience workers to help erase staff shortages in those professions.

• And, under the leadership of Governor Davis, California has the largest apprenticeship program in the US, serving 66,000 students.

Work and Family
• Governor Davis created America's first paid family leave program so that Californians don't have to make the choice between being good workers and being good parents.

• The Governor expanded efforts to retain qualified childcare employees in state-subsidized centers, and worked toward strengthened playground safety requirements at licensed childcare centers.

• Cities, counties and special districts are required to screen for criminal background prospective employees and volunteers who work with children.

• The Davis Administration enacted protections for mothers breast feeding their children.