SB 550: Allows Unions To Recover Attorneys’ Fees

SB 550 was introduced by Senator Pan (D-Sacramento) on February 16, 2017. SB 550 amends EERA section 3543.8 to add the following:

(b) If the employee organization prevails in an action in proving the employer failed to provide wages or benefits required by state law, the employer shall pay the employee organization’s reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses if written notice of intent to seek fees was provided to the employer at least 30 days before the action was instituted

Comments:

  1. I’m opposed to this bill as it creates an uneven playing field by only allowing the union to recover its attorneys’ fees.
  2. In terms of the substance of the bill, it’s not entirely clear what “wages or benefits required by state law” means. If you take it literally, it wouldn’t cover things like longevity pay, differentials, and other pays that are not mandated by state law but are often provided for in a collective bargaining agreement. It also wouldn’t cover overtime since state overtime laws generally don’t apply to public employees.  As for wages, would it only cover payment of minimum wage since state law doesn’t require payment of anything more than minimum wage? We’ll have to wait for the bill analysis to find out more.
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