Gonzalez Kicks Off New Legislative Session By Announcing Opportunity To Work Proposal

For immediate release:

AB 5 Provides Relief to Underemployed Workers Who Seek More Hours on the Job

SACRAMENTO – (Monday, December 5, 2016) – Minutes after being sworn in for the 2017-18 legislative session at the State Capitol, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced the Opportunity to Work Act on Monday in an effort to fight the troubling-yet-growing trend of underemployment among the state’s 3.5 million part-time employees.

Assembly Bill 5, known as the Opportunity to Work Act, would ensure that, if a company of 10 or more employees has more hours of work available and an existing part-time employee who is qualified to do that job, the employer has to offer them those hours before hiring another part-time worker. By receiving an opportunity to work more hours, a part-time employee will have more potential to earn more to better afford rising housing costs, healthcare premiums and other living expenses faced by working families.

“Even as we’ve won increases in the minimum wage to help part-time workers, that just won't cut it if you can’t get enough hours of work,” said Gonzalez, who chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace. “The Opportunity to Work Act will provide a boost to the millions of workers in California who want to work more so they can afford the necessities of life and to take care of themselves and their families in a time when housing costs, student debt, and surprise expenses are increasingly difficult to manage.”

As Federal Reserve economists have noted, “one of the defining features of the recovery from the Great Recession has been the rise in the number of people employed part-time,” as opposed to having regained full-time jobs. Since 2014, the percent of part-time workers in California has risen to 20 percent to 3.5 million people statewide, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 1 million of those Californians have their work hours capped involuntarily.

AB 5 mirrors the requirements of San Jose’s Measure E, which was approved by 64 percent of the voters in California’s third largest city in the Nov. 8 election.

The Opportunity to Work Act will be joint authored by Gonzalez and Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and is co-authored by Assemblymen Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) and Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley).

For more information on AB 5 or to interview Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Evan McLaughlin at (916) 319-2080 or (619) 850-2790.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez serves as Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace and represents the 80th Assembly District, which includes Chula Vista, National City and the San Diego neighborhoods of City Heights, Barrio Logan, Paradise Hills, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa.

CONTACT: Evan McLaughlin, Phone #: (916) 319-2080 / (619) 850-2790