IR # 96-27
Monday, June 10, 1996

Rick Rice
Troy Swauger
(415) 972-8835

AB 1961 Before Senate Industrial Relations Committee;
Aubry Urges Support

Assembly Bill 1961 (House), which will allow the Industrial Welfare Commission to improve its communications with the public and cut certain costs for unnecessary expenses, is slated for a vote on Wednesday, June 12, before the Senate Industrial Relations Committee.

"The Senate Industrial Relations Committee will have an opportunity to help the IWC streamline its mandated communications to California's employees and employers," said Lloyd W. Aubry, Jr., director of the Department of Industrial Relations. "This is an important piece of legislation that will cut costs and enable the Industrial Welfare Commission to inform California workers, in plain language, of the basic laws governing wages, hours and working conditions."

Under current law employers must post Industrial Welfare Commission orders conspicuously in their place of employment. The intent of this law has been to enable employees and employers to have on-site access to information about the laws governing wages, hours and working conditions for their place of employment. The posters are multi-page documents which must, under current law, contain the exact language of regulations adopted by the IWC and a "statement as to the basis" explaining why these regulations were adopted. The language is complex and not readily understood by the average worker and employer. In contrast, the federal government currently requires employers to post a summary of employers obligations and employees rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

"This complexity has long been the subject of criticism by California employers and employees," Aubry said. "AB 1961, would allow for simplification and reduction of the language contained in the posters and should therefore result in better understanding of the laws by the people who are affected by them." The IWC orders in technical language would still be available upon request by anyone who desires a copy.

In addition to the obvious communication benefit, the Industrial Welfare Commission estimates that AB 1961, which is sponsored by the Department of Industrial Relations, will reduce the cost of producing these documents by approximately one-half and eliminate other costly and unnecessary bureaucratic expenses as well.

"AB 1961 makes good sense," Aubry noted. " It is the type of legislation that should benefit from bipartisan support. However, similar non-controversial legislation has passed the Assembly in the past, but received a chilly reception with the Senate. Accordingly, its fate before the Industrial Relations Committee remains uncertain."

"By supporting AB 1961," Aubry said, "the Senate will help improve the awareness of working men and women throughout the state of the laws that affect them. Failure to support this bill," he said, "will prove a costly mistake for government and citizens alike."

Hearings on the proposed legislation begin at 9:30 a.m. at the State Capitol, Room 2040.

Editors note: Members of the Senate Industrial Relations Committee are (Chair) Hilda Solis, D-El Monte; (Vice-Chair) Richard Mountjoy, R-Arcadia; Herschel Rosenthal, D-North Hollywood; Milton Marks, D-San Francisco, Bill Leonard, R-Upland, Nicholas Petris, D-Oakland.