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‘Labor Bill of Rights’ OKd by Berkeley Council

Associated Press

The Berkeley City Council has approved a “labor bill of rights” that would, among other things, impose strict limits on drug testing of employees and on police action in labor disputes.

The council, by a 7-2 vote, passed a resolution adopting the policy statement at a public hearing Tuesday night.

Supporters hailed it as a major step toward building a partnership among government, employers and working people.

Critics, however, accused sponsors of creating a statement that lacked the substance to withstand inevitable court challenges. Business representatives complained that it would discourage employers from locating in Berkeley.

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The proclamation calls for a committee--including members of the Labor Commission, city staff and representatives of the Chamber of Commerce--to figure out how the nine-item proclamation should be implemented. The City Council would have to adopt ordinances for the items to become law.

Among the proclamations is one requiring certain new employers to provide child care or contribute to a city fund for the service.

Also included in the labor bill of rights are:

- A requirement that major employers, “when lawful and feasible,” give 12-month notice of plant closures and meet with city and employee representatives to help avoid shutdowns.

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- A policy to not deal with employers who appear on an AFL-CIO “do not patronize” list.

- Measures making it city policy to promote full employment for Berkeley residents, encourage local ownership of property and businesses by residents and workers, and foster union participation in efforts to create high-quality jobs.

- An endorsement of a proposal to help the city’s disabled residents find jobs.

- A prevailing wage provision for the construction industry.

- A directive that would urge the school district to develop a labor-oriented curriculum.


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