Senate Passes Legislation Protecting Workers’ Paychecks

SB 954 requires employees to give consent before employers can deduct a portion of wages for use by contractor associations

April 21, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Legislation by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, that requires employees to give their consent before employers can deduct wages from their paychecks for industry advancement programs passed the Senate today on a 26-12 vote.

SB 954 clarifies the list of deductions an employer may make when reducing hourly wages, without prior consent from employees. The bill excludes from per diem wages credits for employer payments for industry advancement unless it is part of a bargained agreement.

“Workers should have a say over how their money gets spent,” Hertzberg said. “This is a straightforward bill that ensures workers have control of their hard-earned wages.”

Contractors on public works projects are required to pay their employees at least the prevailing wage, which is also known as the per diem wage. Current law allows several fringe benefit payments that can be taken as a credit against the obligation to pay cash wages, including for healthcare, pension contributions, vacation and other benefits, such as apprenticeship training and other industry advancement programs.

However, sometimes industry advancement funds are used to support activities that are contrary to the interests of workers, such as efforts to weaken health and safety standards. SB 954 makes clear that any wage reductions made for industry advancement causes must be approved as part of a collective bargaining agreement.

The collective bargaining process is essential to a level playing field between management and labor by giving workers a strong voice and seat at the negotiating table, so that any payments that reduce workers’ wages are actually in the interests of workers.

The legislation, which is sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, goes next to the Assembly.

“This bill is essential to protect construction workers on public works projects by ensuring they receive their rightfully owed wages,” said Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.  

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Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map at http://sd18.senate.ca.gov/district.  After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through the Think Long Committee of California. Learn more at www.senate.ca.gov/hertzberg.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew LaMar
Communications Director
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 651-4018

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