NELP News:  Advancing
Workers' Rights in California

In addition to our work at the national level, NELP partners with state allies to advance important employment policy reforms.  With our California partners, we're making striking progress for immigrant workers, unemployed job-seekers, and communities of color.



"Ban the Box" Bill Moves Forward

There’s exciting news out of California on the movement to “ban the box” so that persons with arrest or conviction records are treated fairly when they apply for a job.  

By a margin of 48 to 29, the California State Assembly recently passed
AB 218—a bill that would remove questions about convictions from public job applications, postponing such queries until later in the hiring process.  The bill applies to state agencies and city and county employers, and would go a long way toward mitigating the stigma and blanket exclusion that qualified applicants with criminal records often face when seeking work.  The bill now heads to the State Senate.

It’s the latest evidence that the nationwide movement to ban the box is gaining momentum.  Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Mexico have all embraced similar reforms, and last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission endorsed ban-the-box as a best practice.  

More than 90 organizations, spanning labor, interfaith, reentry, civil rights, employment, criminal justice, and others groups, are backing the bill.  NELP and key allies, including All of Us or None, California PICO, and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, are leading the effort to win this important reform.

For more information, please check out NELP’s ban-the-box resource guide as well as editorial endorsements in The New York Times and the Sacramento Bee.


Formerly incarcerated advocates and allies took part in a legislative briefing in Sacramento in May.

Stopping Employer Retaliation Against Immigrant Workers

California is leading the way to protect workers from illegal retaliation based on immigration status.  A package of three bills to protect immigrant workers from retaliation—AB 263, AB 524, and SB 666—recently passed their houses of origin by large margins.  The bills have strong support from the California Labor Federation and immigrant rights groups from around the state.  We’re optimistic about the bills' chances of becoming law by the fall.

AB 263 and SB 666 would strengthen penalties against employers who use immigration status to retaliate against immigrant workers; AB 524 would expand the definition of extortion to include threats to report immigration status to law enforcement in order to extract payment or property.  

A NELP report published in March—Immigrant Workers’ Rights on ICE—California Report—detailed the ways in which employers use immigration status to retaliate against workers who seek to exercise their workplace rights in California.  The report became the basis for testimony by NELP and other immigrant worker groups during a March 6th Assembly Labor Committee hearing, which asked, “Is California Doing Enough to Protect Immigrant Workers from Retaliation?”  

Coverage of NELP’s report appeared in the Los Angeles Times; an op-ed by NELP's Eunice Cho was featured in the San Jose Mercury News.

September 13th is the last day for each house to pass bills; the governor must sign or veto by October 13th.  We believe there’s a strong chance that these bills will be enacted.  Stay tuned!


NELP's Eunice Cho with CA Labor Commissioner Julie Su and advocates from CA Labor Fed and CLEAN Carwash Campaign, April 2013.

Tackling California's Unemployment Insurance Challenges

California was hit hard by the Great Recession; it still has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation, at nine percent.  In close collaboration with the California Labor Federation, legal services advocates, the state's unemployment agency, and the legislature, NELP is working to ensure that the state's unemployment insurance program can effectively respond to the many serious challenges facing it.

Most recently, NELP was selected by California's labor secretary to take part in stakeholder meetings addressing the state's unemployment insurance financing crisis.  In May, NELP issued its reform proposals in a report, The Path to Responsible Financing of California's Unemployment Insurance System, and was quoted in a Los Angeles Times story on the solvency negotiations. 

NELP is also concerned about the recent cutbacks in unemployment insurance services, including the state's decision to reduce telephone claims services by half, to only 8 am to 12 pm, and push more people to file online.  As we explained in this Los Angeles Times story, the decision will have a major impact on workers who are already having the hardest time navigating the unemployment claims process.


Employer unemployment insurance contributions as a % of totaly CA wages are falling.

And Please Support NELP 

This work would not be possible without support from partners like you.  These recent successes in California show that with thorough research, legal and policy expertise, and a dogged commitment to social justice, we can make a difference in the lives of America's workers.  We hope that you will consider giving to us today!    



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