Assemblymember Holden Introduces Upward Mobility Act of 2021

For immediate release:

Sacramento, CA – Assemblymember Chris Holden introduced Assembly Bill 105, Upward Mobility Act of 2021 that addresses barriers to upward mobility and inclusion for people of color working in California’s civil services system.

“Upward mobility is integral to achieving racial justice, and we should be setting the example,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “The existing systems in place at our own state agencies fail to create inclusive workplace environments, and hinder qualified individuals to move on up within their department simply based on the color of their skin.”

Data from the California Department of Human Resources reports shows that the majority of Non-White civil service personnel are paid a salary in the "$40,000 and below" range, but when the salary range increases, the percentage of Non-White civil servants moving into management positions decreased.  The exact opposite takes place for White civil servants.

The Sacramento Bee has published a series of letters written on behalf of Black employees working at state agencies such as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with detailed accounts of how Black employees are passed up for promotions over White employees. The problem however is not limited upward mobility. In early November, three Black employees at the California Office of Publishing found racial slurs written on cards at their desk.

AB 105 would reform processes that hinder upward mobility for people of color in the civil service system, giving attention to compliance, the appeals process, and annual parity goals for upward mobility.

In September 2020, California took a bold step to address racial inequity in the private sector when Governor Newsom signed AB 979 (Holden) that requires diversity on corporate boards of corporations based in California – a policy that will help drive upward mobility for people of color.

“We already mandated the private sector to do their part. It’s high time for the state to step up and do theirs,” said Holden.

Specifically AB 105 the legislation would:

  • Require the California State Personnel Board (SPB) to establish a process that includes diversity and best practices in each aspect of the design, announcement, and administration of examinations for the establishment of employment lists.
  • Allow the State Personnel Board to prescribe the governing rules, but shift the compliance of those rules to CalHR. Additionally, CalHR shall investigate complaints filed by employees, applicants, and members of the public alleging violations of civil service laws and report findings to SPB for adjudication
  • Require CalHR establish, and update annually, a list of approved independent arbitrators to conduct hearings performed in accordance with Government Code 19574.3.
  • By July 1, 2022, require the CalHR to develop model upward mobility goals based on department workforce analysis and post the model goals on its internet website. If the appointing authority is unable to meet its annual upward mobility goals and timetables for two consecutive fiscal years, the Department of Human Resources shall oversee the hiring process for that appointing authority.