CA Senate Passes Foreign Labor Recruitment Bill (SB 477)
With strong bipartisan support, the California State Senate today passed a measure that would protect documented foreign workers from abuse and human trafficking by banning foreign labor contractors from charging workers recruitment fees and requiring full disclosure of employment conditions. The Senate vote on the measure was 34 - 0.

Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg is the author of SB 477, a revised version of last year’s SB 516 that was vetoed by the Governor. In his veto message, Governor Brown invited the Senate to resubmit the bill after it addresses concerns over the funding source for registration of foreign labor contractors. SB 477 does so by allowing the State Labor Commissioner authority to determine contractor registration and filing fees sufficient to support the ongoing costs of the program.

“It’s certainly fitting that the Senate passed this bill in January, which is designated as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month,” said Steinberg. “We’ve heard many horror stories of foreign workers who obtain visas and are recruited by foreign labor contractors to work here, only to become victims of abusive working conditions. Those workers often find themselves in what amounts to indentured servitude as well, as they’re forced to pay-off excessive ‘recruitment’ fees. These tougher regulations will help protect these hardworking men and women from human trafficking and other abuses.”

California hosts the largest population of temporary foreign workers in the country. These 130,000 documented workers represent 14 percent of the nationwide total. 

SB 477 requires foreign labor contractors, on or after July 1, 2015, to be registered ith California’s Labor Commissioner. The contractors must fully disclose employment terms and conditions in writing, and are prohibited from charging workers recruitment fees. The bill bans intimidation, coercion, termination or discrimination against a foreign worker or a member of the worker’s family in retaliation for a foreign worker’s exercise of any rights under this measure.

Under SB 477, foreign labor contractors are required to post a surety bond and can be subject to civil fines from $1,000 to $25,000 for violations of the measure.

The bill now moves to the State Assembly for consideration.

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Press Release Courtesy of Mark Hedlund, Communications Director

Senator Darrell Steinberg's Office