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Workers' Rights

A state law (AB 1889), effective January 1, 2001, generally prohibits anyone or any entity, governmental or private, from using state funds to support or oppose union organizing. Recipients of state funds are required to keep records that establish compliance with this law. The law provides for both Attorney General and private enforcement. However, a private party must file a "notice" with the Attorney General stating its intention to file an action. The Attorney General has 60 days after receipt of this notice to file an action. After expiration of this 60-day period, the private party may proceed on its own. The Civil Rights Enforcement Section has been charged with the responsibility for enforcing this new law. In late 2000, several business organizations filed a declaratory and injunctive relief action challenging the constitutionality of this law in federal district court. The Attorney General vigorously defended this action. After failing to get the district court to issue a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their facial challenge to the new law. On April 11, 2002, a new action challenging the constitutionality of AB 1889 was filed by, among others, the United States Chamber of Commerce. In January 2003, the district court held that AB 1889 is unconstitutional because it is preempted by the federal National Labor Relations Act. The Office of the Attorney Generalappealed this judgment and continues to defend the constitutionality of AB 1889 in United States Chamber of Commerce, et al. v. Lockyer, et al. On April 20, 2004, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court. On May 18, 2004, the Attorney General filed a Petition for Rehearing En Banc.

On December 18, 2001, the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in Valenzuela v. Carpenters Contractors Cooperation Committee in the California Court of Appeal. Carpenters Contractors Cooperation Committee (CCCC) is a private nonprofit organization that monitors public works projects for compliance with state and federal wage laws. Plaintiff Valenzuela Engineering sued CCCC pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 17200, alleging that CCCC had committed an unfair business practice when it conducted investigations regarding Valenzuela Engineering without a license. Plaintiff claimed CCCC did so in violation of the Private Investigator Act (PIA), Business and Professions Code sections 7512-7573, which requires that private investigators be licensed. The trial court granted the CCCC's Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) motion and dismissed this action. Plaintiff appealed. The Attorney General's brief argues that the SLAPP motion was properly granted and that the PIA does not apply to entities such as CCCC. Following the full briefing of this matters, the parties reached a settlement and the appeal was dismissed.

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