In 2018, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 2455 (“AB 2455”), which required the Department of Social Services to provide labor organizations registered home care aids’ contact information to assist with organizing efforts of the home care workforce.
Two industry groups, the Home Care Association of America and the California Association for Health Service at Home (“Associations”), whose members employ home care providers, filed suit in federal court to block the law.
This month, the federal district court heard dueling motions for summary judgment in the case. The Associations argued that the bill was preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). In a lengthy order, the district court considered the two potential avenues for preemption under San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon (Garmon) and Machinists v. Gonzales (Machinists). For disclosure to be preempted under Garmon, the NLRA or its integrated scheme of regulation would have to govern when and how labor unions can collect contact information of potential members in all contexts. However, the district court found there was no broad regulatory structure that prevented contact information from being supplied outside the context of an election conducted by the NLRB. Further, the court found that laws like AB 2455, which promote open communication, do not intrude on the zone of free negotiation protected by Machinists preemption.
Based on the findings, the district court denied the Associations’ motion for summary judgment and granted the State’s motion, thereby declining the Associations’ requested injunction against AB 2455.
What does the outcome of this case mean for the home health care industry? After the legislation was passed, many foresaw an increase in unionization efforts in the home care industry. This seems even more likely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic effect on the industry. The Associations may appeal the district court’s decision and continue their attempts to block the legislation in the future.