AB 96 is an intentional, tailored policy that will continue technological innovation in public transit while respecting workers’ rights and justice
SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Kalra (D-San José) and bill sponsors urge Governor Newsom to sign AB 96, which would require public transit agencies to notify transit unions of their intention to procure or deploy autonomous transit vehicle technology at least ten months prior. Upon notification, the employer and the union would commence bargaining over the development and implementation of the new technology, as well as the creation of a transition or retraining plan for affected workers.
“As technology continues to advance, we must remain vigilant to ensure working California families are not left behind. AB 96 will put workers and riders’ safety at the forefront of transitions to the future of work with autonomous driving technology in public transit,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “I am thankful this bill is now on the Governor’s desk to give California the opportunity to continue to lead the way on thoughtful implementation of automation in the workplace.”
In September of 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Assemblymember Kalra to the inaugural Future of Work Commission, where he joined a diverse group of leaders from technology, labor, business, education, and other sectors to help ensure shared growth and success among workers and their families. AB 96 was born out of the dialogue and work in the Commission.
“The California Conference of the Amalgamated Transit Union is pleased to see the passage of AB 96 by Assemblymember Kalra. This important legislation will ensure that our members have a say when it comes to automation in the workplace. We urge the Governor to quickly sign the bill into law,” said Jeff Shaffer, President of the California Conference of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).
“Autonomous technologies and other products that may displace workers are enticing to employers as it would allow them to save money on labor costs. However, transit employees play a critical role in facilitating a safe and smooth passenger experience for commuters and passengers across the state,” said Louie Costa, Director of SMART-TD’s State Legislative Board. “I applaud the Legislature for sending this bill to the Governor and recognizing the value of bringing workers to the table when it comes to major, job-displacing changes in their workplace.”
AB 96 is sponsored by the California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), California Labor Federation, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Transportation Division (SMART-TD). AB 96 has also enjoyed support from other labor organizations such as: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), California Nurses Association (CNA), California School Employees Association (CSEA), and State Building and Construction Trades Council Of CA. The CA Transit Association is neutral on the bill.
Assemblymember Ash Kalra represents California’s 25th Assembly District, which encompasses the majority of San José, including downtown and open space areas in southeast Santa Clara County. He was first elected in 2016, becoming the first Indian American to serve in the California Legislature in state history, and was re-elected to his fourth term in 2022. Assemblymember Kalra is the Chair of the Committee on Labor and Employment and also serves as a member on the Housing and Community Development, Judiciary, Transportation, and Water, Parks, and Wildlife committees.