AB359Would Protect Workers From Immediate Job Loss After a Change of Store Ownership
SACRAMENTO -( Wednesday, May 6, 2015) - A bill by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to protect grocery workers from being fired because of changes in store ownership was approved today by the Assembly Labor and Employment on a vote of 5-2. It advances to consideration by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
AB 359 protects grocery workers from being fired during a 90-day transition period if the grocery store is undergoing a change of ownership. Following the transition period, the new employer must provide a written performance evaluation and consider an offer of continued employment following a satisfactory evaluation. Employers would retain the right to terminate an employee for cause at any time.
"These middle class grocery jobs anchor our community, drive a healthy economy, and keeping skilled workers in those jobs should be in everyone's best interest," Gonzalez said. "Workers should not lose their jobs and benefits just because giant retailers and private equity firms buy and sell grocery stores in Wall Street-style mergers to make even larger profits."
Since Los Angeles adopted a similar law in 2005, the number of grocery stores has increased by more than 8.5% and employment increased by 18% in the retail grocery sector. Nevertheless, a recent study from the Food Labor Policy Center at the University of California, Berkeley found that California grocery workers face increasingly precarious economic conditions. More than half of California food retail workers earned poverty wages in 2010, a trend that has been increasing in recent years. 36% of California food retail workers use some form of public assistance, for a total annual cost to the state of $662 million. Mass firings without cause during ownership changes serve to accelerate the downward trend, passing a larger financial burden onto taxpayers to increase corporate profits.
For more information on AB359or to interview Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contactEvanMcLaughlin at (916) 319-2080 or (619) 850-2790.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents California's 80th Assembly District, which includes portions of the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista and National City. She serves as Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace and is a single mom. For more information, visit http://asmdc.org/members/a80/ .