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New Bill Protects California Workers During Mass Layoffs

AB 1356 expands and strengthens protections and notice requirements for employees impacted by recent mass layoffs

For immediate release:

Sacramento –  In response to the thousands of California workers that have been affected by the recent crisis of mass tech layoffs, Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) has introduced the Protect Laid-Off Workers Act that will strengthen mass layoff protections for over 7 million California workers, including almost 2 million contract workers.

“Innovative industries like tech are a critical part of our state's economy, and we know that tech companies start here and grow here because of our highly skilled workforce,” said Haney. “This bill is about protecting that workforce, from the engineers to the janitors, and making sure they’re treated fairly during a job transition. To be pro tech, we have to be pro tech-worker. Our workers are why these companies are in California. If we don’t take care of our tech workers then we’ll lose one of California’s greatest resources to states like Texas, Washington, or New York.”

Since the start of 2022, the tech industry has eliminated more than 200,000 jobs, including reductions in staff at nearly all of the big tech companies. Twitter notably laid off 4,400 of their 5,500 contract workers without notice or severance. Contract workers often do the same work as their directly-employed peers while making less money, receiving fewer benefits, and with less career mobility.

“We respect that downsizing is sometimes an unavoidable part of business. But discarding employees that have done nothing wrong, with little to no notice, isn't right and it hurts the competitiveness of our state’s tech industry,” said Haney. “If our workers are given notice and have enough time to look for other work, they’re more likely to stay here in California. AB 1356 closes the gaping loopholes in critical layoff protection laws and gives contract workers the basic protections that all workers at these large companies deserve.”

“On November 12th, I got an email that said one or more of my accounts had been revoked. I tried to open my Twitter email and Slack but got a notice that my accounts no longer existed. That’s how I found out I was fired. Nobody explained anything to me, no email, I was just cut off,” said Melissa Ingle, a Senior Data Scientist who worked for two years as a contract employee overseeing Twitter’s anti-misinformation program. “The full-time employees that were laid off received a three-month severance package. But the contract workers didn’t receive anything.”

“I worked at Twitter for nine years until one day I walked in and they told me my role was no longer needed at the company,” said Martín Cerda, a former janitor at Twitter headquarters. “This was a few weeks before the holidays. I got no explanation of why I was suddenly laid off and still haven’t been able to fully financially recover.”

AB 1356 strengthens the directly-employed and contract worker protections by enacting the following regulations:

  • Requires that employers who lay off more than 50 workers at a time—through no fault of the workers themselves— provide their employees with 90 days notice.
  • Closes a loophole that allows companies to hire large amounts of workers as contractors, which would otherwise leave those workers entirely without lay off protections.
  • Prohibits employers from pressuring employees to sign away their rights in exchange for their mass layoff protections.

“California needs guardrails to ensure workers are protected in the event of a layoff—and those guardrails should reflect the realities that working people experience today,” said Catherine Bracy, CEO and Co-Founder of TechEquity Collaborative. “The Protect Laid Off Workers Act is necessary to provide workers the safety net needed after a layoff—especially for marginalized contract workers. When we pass policies to address deep inequities, we all benefit.”

AB 1356 is sponsored by TechEquity Collaborative, California Labor Federation, National Employment Law Project, Temp Worker Justice, National Legal Advocacy Network, CA Employment Lawyers Association and Alphabet Workers Union-CWA.