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Ds, Rs resolve leadership questions + A legislative union? + Should Newsom intervene?

Sacramento Bee 12/6/2022 Andrew Sheeler, The Sacramento Bee

Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!

RENDON, RIVAS MAKE IT OFFICIAL

On Monday, California lawmakers were sworn in and the Assemblyand Senate went about the business of setting up shop for both the regular and special sessions.

If there was any doubt about who will be leading Assembly Democrats come summertime, it was dispelled when they voted unanimously to name Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, as speaker until June 30, 2023, when Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, will take over.

The vote marks the conclusion of an intra-caucus struggle over the gavel, with Rendon set to term out in 2024.

Rivas, in a statement, said he was honored to have the support of his colleagues.

“The 40 million residents that call California home are counting on us to lead on the critical issues facing the Golden State,” Rivas said. “I will work tirelessly alongside each of my colleagues to protect the California Dream and expand opportunity across the state.”

Rivas’ office also released a statement from California civil rights legend and labor organizer Dolores Huerta.

“Having grown up in farmworker housing and watched his grandfather organize his fellow farmworkers, Robert truly understands the importance of standing up for our working families,” she said.

BRIAN JONES ELECTED SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER

Monday saw a changing of the guard on the Senate Republican side, as Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, was replaced as Senate Republican leader by Sen. Brian Jones, R-Santee.

Wilk, who took over as leader in January 2021, will hand over the reins to Jones on Jan. 1, 2023.

“Despite strong political headwinds, we held our own in the 2022 elections. We are reaching new communities through our re-purposed Caucus communications program,” Wilk said in a statement. “I’m thankful to my Senate Republican colleagues for their support.”

Jones praised Wilk as “a strong leader” who “has supported us in our communication, legislative, and constituent services in important ways.”

“Californians are best served by hard-working elected officials that put bipartisanship and the betterment of the community first. This philosophy is something I have always tried to adhere to in the past and I will carry over as Senate minority leader,” Jones said.

The Senate Republican Caucusadded three new members Monday: Sens. Janet Nguyen and Kelly Seyarto, who came over from the Assembly, and Sen. Roger Niello.

A BILL TO UNIONIZE LEGISLATIVE STAFF

Once again, Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow legislative staffers to unionize. AB 1, introduced by Assemblywoman Tina McKinnor, D- Inglewood, is the latest attempt by Democrats to introduce collective bargaining to the legislative branch, the only branch of California government that currently does not allow it.

“Legislative staff aren’t looking for special treatment. They are looking for the same dignity and respect afforded to all represented workers,” McKinnor said in a statement. “We ask our staff to write legislation and staff bills that expand collective bargaining rights for other workers in California, yet we prohibit our own employees from that same right.”

The bill has 26 co-authors in both the Assembly and Senate, and is likely to be a priority for Democrats this coming session.

The previous attempt to allow staff to unionize was stymied by the Democrat-controlled Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee, whose chair, Jim Cooper had voiced concerns about the bill. Cooper is no longer in the Assembly.

UNION CALLS ON NEWSOM TO INTERVENE IN UC ACADEMIC WORKER STRIKE

The University Council-American Federation of Teachers has sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, urging him “to do everything in your power to immediately resolve the instructional crisis” at the University of California, which is now several weeks into an academic worker strike. The union has accused the UC of failing to bargain in good faith.

“The UC’s intransigence and repeated unfair labor practices throughout the bargaining process — which have pushed UAW academic employees to legally strike for more than 3 weeks — have negatively impacted its roughly 230,000 undergraduate and 64,000 graduate students,” the letter reads in part. “To allow this disruption to continue into the new year — which seems to be the UC president’s plan — has and will continue to create unnecessary chaos for UC students and faculty for the duration of the 2022-23 school year.”

The letter calls on Newsom to pressure UC President Michael Drake and the UC Board of Regents to pay a living wage to the academic student employees and student researchers, and to impress upon the UC that the state government “is willing to sufficiently reinvest in public higher education to enable all of our schools to pay instructors living wages.”

You can read the letter here.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“You may not know what is coming, but you have 12 years to make good things happen.”

- Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, speaking to the newly convened Assembly on Monday.

Best of The Bee:

  • A restaurant business coalition announced on Monday that it has gathered enough signatures to challenge a new California law that would create a state-backed labor council to set pay and working conditions for the fast-food industry, via Mathew Miranda.

  • California lawmakers take on oil price gouging at special session. Here’s what could happen, via Lindsey Holden.

  • California lawmakers on Monday introduced legislation to penalize oil companies for alleged price gouging, setting the stage for a showdown with an industry that has long wielded political influence in the Golden State, via Maggie Angst and Lindsey Holden.

  • A handful of moderate Democrats and Republicans, beneficiaries of millions in oil contributions, are headed to the California Senate and Assembly this week, via Lindsey Holden.

  • A group of striking University of California workers is holding a sit-in at a downtown Sacramento building, where police officers have surrounded them, via Rosalio Ahumada and Maya Miller.

©2022 The Sacramento Bee. Visit sacbee.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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