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Thursday, September 12, 2019   A Round of Applause for WECA Alumni and Member Contractor Windell Pascascio, Jr.!


2013 WECA Commercial Apprenticeship graduate and current WECA Member Contractor Windell Pascascio, Jr. of Fresno-based Imperial Electric Service poses with WECA's Assistant Director of Apprenticeship, Wendy Flanagan, at the Central Valley Business Diversity Expo in Fresno on April 12, 2019.
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Please join us in congratulating Windell on winning the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce's 2019 Small Business of the Year award! Congratulations, Windell! We love to see alumni and Member Contractors such as you succeed, and eagerly await your future accomplishments. 
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Thursday, September 12, 2019   Register Today for the Oct. 2 Webinar: "Prevailing Wage and Skilled and Trained Workforce"


Join Cook Brown Partner Carrie Bushman as she discusses:
  • Recently enacted statutory provisions regarding new penalties for non-compliance with skilled and trained workforce requirements;
  • The small project exemption for contractor registration and submission of eCPRs;
  • How to read and interpret prevailing wage determinations, including scopes of work, travel and subsistence provisions, and shift differential provisions;
  • Taking credit for fringe benefit contributions;
  • Public works contractor registration requirements;
  • Apprenticeship compliance; and, 
  • Record keeping requirements, including eCPR.
Register today to join us online on October 2, from 8:30-12pm, for this informative webinar.
This webinar is free for WECA member contractors, industry partners, and their employees. All others are $75/registration.

Want a handy Prevailing Wage reference in the meantime? Purchase WECA's updated ePublication, "Blueprint to California's Prevailing Wage: A Contractor's Guide Second Edition." Now available for Amazon Kindle, and as an Interactive PDF.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors and their employees. All others $75.

Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership benefits and services.
Read more >>


Thursday, September 12, 2019   Learn How to Navigate Skilled and Trained Workforce Mandates and Exceptions with Our Nov. 6 Webinar


Do the sheer volume of Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates and exceptions make you feel as though you're all bound up in red tape?

While we can't eliminate bureaucratic madness, what we can do is help you navigate it by providing you with up-to-date information on current Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates. This webinar will cover the basics of Skilled and Trained Workforce requirements, new interpretations of compliance, and legislative changes effective 2020.

Following the Cook Brown LLP Webinar with Partner Carrie Bushman on Prevailing Wage and Skilled and Trained Workforce on October 2nd, which we encourage all our members to attend as a precursor to this webinar, join Richard Markuson of WECA Government Affairs as he takes you through what he calls "the rabbit hole" of California's ever-evolving Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates for public works construction.

Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Wendy Flanagan will also be on the webinar to describe WECA's 'Accelerated Apprenticeship' option for WECA Member Contractors dealing with Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates.

Register today to join us online on November 6, from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m., for this informative webinar.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors, Industry Partners, and their employees. All others are $50/registration.

The 2019 edition of WECA's annual business law publication, Selected California Laws Affecting Electrical and Low Voltage Contractors, is now available for purchase.

NOTE: WECA members receive a complimentary copy of this book at each year's updated release, as a member benefit.

Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership benefits and services. 
 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 12, 2019   WECA's Hiring! Seeking Part-Time Instructors for Nights and Weekends


Your Chance to Teach for WECA!

Are you a certified electrician (former/retired acceptable if you're willing to get re-certified upon hire) who enjoys learning more about your field all the time, sharing your knowledge with others, and educating the next generation? 
If so, we'd be excited to have you join our team! 
 
Part-Time Instructors for our GetWired! programs teach weeknights online and/or occasional Saturday labs at our training facilities.
 
This is the side gig that lets you earn extra money while keeping your day job!

To learn more about these positions and apply, please visit our 'Careers' page.
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Thursday, September 12, 2019   Back to School--Check Out What WECA Apprentices Are Up To!

It's that time of year again--back to school for our WECA Apprentices! This week, Apprentices filled up our classrooms and labs, and are shown below learning technologies such as Plangrid and exploring the basics of ladder safety. 

We wish our Apprentices a fun and successful year ahead!  
 
 
 
 
 
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Thursday, September 12, 2019   Information for Employers Regarding Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training

Content courtesy of: the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
 

SB 1343 requires that all employers of 5 or more employees provide 1 hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to non-managerial employees and 2 hours of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to managerial employees once every two years. Existing law requires the training to include harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation and to include practical examples of such harassment and to be provided by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in those areas. The bill also requires the Department to produce and post both training courses to its website, which employers may utilize instead of hiring a trainer.

An employer is required to train its California-based employees so long as it employs 5 or more employees anywhere, even if they do not work at the same location and even if not all of them work or reside in California.

Under the DFEH's regulations, the definition of "employee" for training purposes includes full-time, part-time, and temporary employees, unpaid interns, unpaid volunteers, and persons providing services pursuant to a contract (independent contractors).

Click here to access additional tools in the toolkit, including a sample sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training.
 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 12, 2019   Committed to Safety: WECA's San Diego Apprentices Learn CPR ... with Virtual Reality!

Last academic year, WECA piloted a cutting-edge virtual reality CPR training--provided by Fremont, CA-based ICE Safety Solutions--at our HQ in Rancho Cordova. This week, our San Diego training facility got in on the action. Apprentices are shown watching videos of real-life CPR and first aid scenarios on the virtual reality headsets, and practicing their newfound skills on Bluetooth-enabled 'Manikins.' 
 
 
 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 05, 2019   Opinions

Opinions



Richard Markuson

The Interesting Elements of Assembly Bill 5

Many of you San Diego-area folks remember Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez from her tenure as head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council (AFL-CIO). She left that post in 2013 when Assemblyman Ben Hueso was elected to the State Senate. She then decided to bring her style of political activism to Sacramento by winning Hueso's 80th Assembly District.
 
She is a prolific author - usually having multiple pieces of legislation on the CalChamber "Job Killer" list. One bill that is NOT on the list - but certainly qualifies as a job killer - is AB 5, which will codify the State Supreme Court decision in the Dynamex case that changed the treatment of independent contractors (we cover some recent amendments to that bill elsewhere). The reason I suggest it is a job killer is because its primary targets are the gig economy workers who accepted employment under the old rules - for any number of reasons - and now will become employees of their contracting entity - whether they want to be an employee or not. Uber - by far the largest of the gig employers (and who recently lost $5 billion in the last quarter) has suggested that 300,000 of their contractors will be terminated if AB 5 goes into effect as currently drafted. And the votes are probably here to pass the bill, and Governor Newsom has signaled he is prepared to sign it.
 
But this is not about the gig economy or AB 5, but rather, this is an interesting "side-bar" that is taking place around the bill and efforts to provide some degree of flexibility to gig workers - or as some have described it - a "third" status of employment (the other two being employee and independent contractor).
 
There seemed to be some degree of interest in this concept among the Democrats in Sacramento who don't necessarily want to be seen as executioner of the gig economy as we know it (which includes paper boys, who would become employees of the few remaining printed papers in California). Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and some of the other employers have offered wage floors, collective bargaining (industry-wide as opposed to employer by employer) and other protections without these folks becoming statutory employees.
 
The author seemed reluctant to go down this road and preferred to hand out industry exemption on a case-by-case basis - always with the approval of organized labor. But lo and behold, the loudest opponent to this was none other than Mr. Robbie Hunter. You may recall the last column, which listed Mr. Hunter of the State Building and Construction Trades Council as the fifth most influential power figure in Sacramento.
 
At about this same time, Governor Newsom announced members of his Future of Work Commission.
 
The executive order establishing the Commission states, "The Future of Work Commission's primary mission shall be to study, understand, analyze, and make recommendations regarding the kinds of jobs Californians could have in the decades to come; the impact of technology on work, workers, employers, jobs and society; methods of promoting better job quality, wages, and working conditions through technology; modernizing worker safety net protections; and the best way to preserve good jobs, ready the workforce for the jobs of the future through lifelong learning, and ensure shared prosperity for all." The Commission is replete with union officials, Obama appointees, and left-leaning academics along with a few token business representatives but missing from the list was good ol' # 5 - Robbie Hunter.
 
It seems Hunter was prepped to serve but things went a little sideways when the trades went a little postal on the "third status of employment."
 
As CalMatters reported the "disinvitation," Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration revoked the appointment of one of California's top labor leaders to a soon-to-be announced Future of Work Commission on Tuesday, in an escalating dispute over how to treat gig employees. Robbie Hunter, head of the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, is insisting that gig employees, including construction workers who get jobs through Handy, be treated as employees, not independent contractors. Hunter and Newsom's chief of staff, Ann O'Leary, argued over the issue earlier this month, leading Hunter to conclude the administration would make concessions to companies such as Uber, Lyft and Handy. On Tuesday night, a top aide to Newsom called Cesar Diaz, the building trades' chief lobbyist, to say Hunter's appointment was revoked-this after the administration emailed a draft press release to Hunter on Friday afternoon announcing his appointment.
 
And in a curious and possibly unrelated dis-appointment, Newsom also has dumped Nikki Noushkam, his recent appointment to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
 
Noushkam worked at ExxonMobil from 1997 to 2001 and Northrop Grumman from 2004 to 2015. Most recently, she served as chief engineer for Aerospace Corp. since 2015. Newsom appointed her last month but apparently had second thoughts. "While the governor was impressed by the technical and engineering expertise of the nominee, the governor is withdrawing his previous nomination to the South Coast Air Quality Management District," Newsom spokesperson Nathan Click said in a statement. "Given the air quality challenges faced by families in Southern California, the governor believes his appointee should have both a strong understanding of public health and the trust of local communities."
 
So, how does one connect those dots? CalMatters noted: "The decision to pull the nomination of Negar "Nikki" Noushkam coincided with the Newsom administration's decision to revoke the offer to Robbie Hunter, head of the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, to serve on the Future of Work Commission." And "... the building trades council represents unionized oil refinery workers, has an alliance with oil companies, and supported Noushkam's appointment." Connection? Maybe. But the trades have stepped up their lobbying against a gig fix - and dispatched about 100 construction workers (paid for with industry advancement money, undoubtedly) today to the Capitol to remind Democrats (and Republicans) who is calling the shots.
 
We'll know how this resolves by Monday - the start of the marathon last week of session when the deadline for amending bills before Friday's adjournment has passed.
Read more >>


Thursday, September 05, 2019   State Legislation

The Senate Appropriations committee approved AB 5 (Gonzalez - D - San Diego) and the bill is now on the Senate floor. Gonzalez amended the bill for construction to establish that the holding in Dynamex does not apply to the relationship between a contractor and an individual performing work pursuant to a subcontract in the construction industry, and instead the determination of whether the individual is an employee of the contractor shall be governed by Section 2750.5 and the test adopted by the California Supreme Court in the case of S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc., if the contractor demonstrates that all of seven criteria are satisfied.
 
On the Senate floor is AB 403 (Kalra - D - San Jose) to the floor. This bill extends the time that a victim of workplace retaliation has to file a claim with the California Labor Commissioner from six months to two years and authorizes an attorneys' fee award to a worker who prevails on a whistleblower claim. AB 403 incentivizes litigation and provides for a one-sided provision of attorney's fees. California is already widely perceived as having a hostile litigation environment. One factor that contributes to this negative perception is the high award and threat of attorney's fees in civil litigation that often dwarfs the financial recovery the plaintiff actually receives.
 
The Senate passed AB 520 (Kalra) on a party-line vote. It is the building trades third attempt to define a public subsidy as "de minimis" for the purpose of paying the prevailing wage in public works projects if the subsidy is both less than $500,000 and less than 2% of the total project cost. The bill would specifically provide a public subsidy for a project that consists entirely of single-family dwellings is de minimis if it is less than 2% of the total project cost. CBIA has stated this narrow amendment is deceptive and an attempt to confuse Legislators (Squirrel!). These standards will apply for bids advertised or contracts awarded after July 1, 2020. AB 251 (Levine, 2015), was vetoed by Governor Brown; he stated in his veto message: "Longstanding practice has been to view [a] subsidy in context of the project and use 2% as a general threshold for determinations. There has been no showing that the current practice is unreasonable. While I remain a staunch supporter of prevailing wages I am concerned that this measure is too restrictive and may have unintended consequences."
 
Newson signed AB 595 (Medina - D - Riverside) that authorizes the use of an individual tax identification number for purposes of conducting background checks required by class or program for a student enrolled in a community college apprenticeship or internship training program who does not have a social security number.
 
The Senate passed Medina's AB 695 that extends the sunset on community college districts' (CCDs') authority to enter into design-build public works contracts and adopts the same "skilled and trained workforce" requirements applicable to the design-build authority of state agencies and local governments. The bill contains provisions that allow a contractor under a project labor agreement to be presumed to meet the requirements of using a skilled and trained workforce.
 
Newson signed AB 1019 (Frazier - D - Discovery Bay) that adds to the ex officio members of the Interagency Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship, the Director of Rehabilitation and the chair of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities. The bill would require the committee to create a subcommittee to address apprenticeship for the developmentally disabled community. The bill would add that it is the intent of the Legislature that the department will encourage greater participation for the developmentally disabled in apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.
 
Held on suspense was AB 1028 (Gonzalez) that would have required the California Energy Commission (CEC), in allocating grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) as part of the Proposition 39 - Clean Energy Job Creation Program to also give priority based on a LEA's utilization of apprentices from state-approved apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. The committee concluded "Cost pressure, potentially in the millions of dollars, to provide substantial funding for the purposes the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, as those purposes are modified by this bill."
 
Passed off of suspense was her AB 1066 that will permit striking workers to collect unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. The cursory analysis of the policy change indicated "annual ongoing costs to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund would likely be in the millions of dollars."
 
Awaiting action of the Governor is AB 1475 (Bauer-Kahan - D - Orinda) that authorizes regional transportation agencies (RTAs) to use the construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC) procurement method on any transportation project that is not on the state highway system.
 
The Senate passed AB 1558 (Ramos - D - Highland) that requires local school districts or schools planning college or career fairs to notify apprenticeship programs in their county utilizing contact information from the database of approved apprenticeship programs published by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards on its internet website.
 
Also on the floor is AB 1736 ( Daly - D - Anaheim) that will require departments and state agencies with an internet website, to post within 24 hours of awarding a construction contract, the name of the successful bidder, the amount of the successful bidder's bid, and the name of listed subcontractors and their subcontract amounts.
 
Part of the "housing solution" on the Assembly floor is SB 5 (Beall - D - San Jose) that establishes a mechanism that, when fully implemented, shifts up to $2 billion annually from local ERAFs to pay for projects approved under the Program for affordable housing, transit-oriented development, infill development, housing-related infrastructure, and other specified priorities. This indirectly requires the state to make annual GF adjustments to match any reductions in ERAF that would otherwise be used to support schools. While school funding is held harmless, the bill would reduce the amount of GF revenues available to support other state programs and services. The future is uncertain as the CFT and CTA are opposed to the ERAF shift.
 
Back in the Senate for concurrence is Beall's SB 128 that extends the existing best-value contracting pilot program until January 1, 2025. The bill also changes the date that a participating county must submit a report to the Legislature to March 1, 2024, and adds Santa Clara and Monterey counties to the existing pilot program.
 
The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved SB 524 (Stern - D - Canoga Park) Sponsored by California State Association of Electrical Workers, California State Pipe Trades Council, Western States Council Sheet Metal Workers, this bill requires the CPUC to ensure that work is performed by a skilled and trained workforce for projects receiving at least $50,000 in ratepayer-funded initiatives within a single facility. Undoubtedly because of her affection for anything union, Lorena Gonzalez is now a co-author. Stern claims "achievement of the state's energy and environmental goals through energy efficiency projects is jeopardized by use of unqualified workers to install these projects" but because he is a Democrat and the sponsors are construction unions - no proof is required.
 
Also on the Assembly floor is SB 530 (Galgiani- D - Stockton) that will require DLSE to develop recommendations for industry-specific harassment and discrimination prevention policy and training standard for use by employers in the construction industry. The bill will also require DIR to convene an advisory committee by March 1, 2020, consisting of specified representatives from the construction industry and state agencies to assist the division in developing the policy. Late amendments allow unionized construction industry employers to satisfy sexual harassment training and education requirements by verifying completion of specified training provided by a state-approved apprenticeship program, labor management training trust, or labor management cooperation committee.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   Register Today for the Oct. 2 Webinar: Prevailing Wage and Skilled and Trained Workforce


Join Cook Brown Partner Carrie Bushman as she discusses:
  • Recently enacted statutory provisions regarding new penalties for non-compliance with skilled and trained workforce requirements;
  • The small project exemption for contractor registration and submission of eCPRs;
  • How to read and interpret prevailing wage determinations, including scopes of work, travel and subsistence provisions, and shift differential provisions;
  • Taking credit for fringe benefit contributions;
  • Public works contractor registration requirements;
  • Apprenticeship compliance; and, 
  • Record keeping requirements, including eCPR.
Register today to join us online on October 2, from 8:30-12pm, for this informative webinar.
This webinar is free for WECA member contractors, industry partners, and their employees. All others are $75/registration.

Want a handy Prevailing Wage reference in the meantime? Purchase WECA's updated ePublication, "Blueprint to California's Prevailing Wage: A Contractor's Guide Second Edition." Now available for Amazon Kindle, and as an Interactive PDF.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors and their employees. All others $75.

Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership benefits and services.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   Learn How to Navigate Skilled and Trained Workforce Mandates and Exceptions with Our Nov. 6 Webinar


Do the sheer volume of Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates and exceptions make you feel as though you're all bound up in red tape?

While we can't eliminate bureaucratic madness, what we can do is help you navigate it by providing you with up-to-date information on current Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates. This webinar will cover the basics of Skilled and Trained Workforce requirements, new interpretations of compliance, and legislative changes effective 2020.

Following the Cook Brown LLP Webinar with Partner Carrie Bushman on Prevailing Wage and Skilled and Trained Workforce on October 2nd, which we encourage all our members to attend as a precursor to this webinar, join Richard Markuson of WECA Government Affairs as he takes you through what he calls "the rabbit hole" of California's ever-evolving Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates for public works construction.

Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Wendy Flanagan will also be on the webinar to describe WECA's 'Accelerated Apprenticeship' option for WECA Member Contractors dealing with Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates.

Register today to join us online on November 6, from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m., for this informative webinar.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors, Industry Partners, and their employees. All others are $50/registration.

The 2019 edition of WECA's annual business law publication, Selected California Laws Affecting Electrical and Low Voltage Contractors, is now available for purchase. 

NOTE: WECA members receive a complimentary copy of this book at each year's updated release, as a member benefit.

Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership benefits and services. 
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   Important Reminders About Supervision Requirements for WECA Apprentices

Please read this brief refresher and overview of Apprentice supervision requirements as they apply to our Member Contractors:
  • All Commercial, Residential, and Low Voltage Apprentices performing FLS work must be supervised by a Certified Electrician or the C10 holder for the company.
  • All Low Voltage Apprentices must be supervised by a qualified journey-level technician.
  • The supervision requirement for all of WECA's Apprenticeship programs is 1 Apprentice to 1 Journey-person. A Certified Journey-person may supervise 1 Apprentice and 1 Electrician Trainee.
  • The supervising Journey-person must lay out the work for the day, ensure the Apprentice has proper instruction and training on how to perform the task, and that the Apprentice is able to perform the task safely.
  • The supervising Journey-person does not have to stand over the Apprentice's shoulder, but must be on the same job site and available to the Apprentice at all times.
  • If, for some reason, an Apprentice does not have a Journey-person available to supervise him or her, the Apprentice should be sent home for the day as it is a violation of WECA's Employer Rules and Regulations to let an Apprentice work without proper supervision.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Wendy Flanagan, Assistant Director of Apprenticeship, by email at wflanagan@goweca.com or by phone at 916-453-0112 extension 145.
 
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   Have Project Labor Agreements Been Taken Too Far? Content courtesy of Cook Brown, LLP


By Dennis Cook and Steve McCutcheon of Cook Brown, LLP

For more than a century the interplay between labor and antitrust law has been a difficult one. Congress has attempted to strike a balance between protection of worker rights and prohibitions of anticompetitive activities.

Environmental laws, such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), are increasingly used to force developers to enter into union-only Project Labor Agreements (PLA). Similarly, the use of antitrust, RICO, and the prohibitions of unlawful boycotts under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to address abusive behavior, are coming back to the forefront. 

Antitrust Laws

When most people think of antitrust law, they think of the Sherman Antitrust Act that prohibits "contracts, combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade." It was adopted in 1890 to outlaw monopolistic business practices. After the Sherman Antitrust Act was applied to various forms of union activity, such as boycotts and strikes, Congress adopted the Clayton Act and Norris-LaGuardia Act to restrict courts from intervening in labor disputes. In 1935 Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to protect the rights of workers to bargain collectively, and engage in strikes, picketing, and other concerted activities.

However, the pendulum had swung too far in the unions' favor. Congress recognized employers and individual workers needed protection from abusive and anti-competitive behavior, and passed the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) and Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). These Acts prohibited unions from:
  • engaging in certain forms of boycotts,
  • threatening or coercing neutral employers from doing business with non-union companies, and
  • making "hot cargo agreements" (an agreement to not handle or deal with the products of anyone with whom the union has a dispute) except in the garment and construction industries.
Project Labor Agreements in Construction

Agreements between owners and unions that contain a commitment to use union-only Project Labor Agreements for all labor on a construction project appear to be among the types of anti-competitive behavior prohibited by the antitrust laws. However, exceptions to these laws are applicable to the construction industry. certain collective bargaining relationships have also opened the door to restrictive subcontracting clauses and the use of union-only PLAs.

Examples of Adopting PLAs

The use of PLAs is common in many parts of the country, and courts have provided guidance on how to avoid running afoul of the NLRA and the antitrust laws when adopting PLAs. For example, in Connell Construction Company v. Plumbers Local 100 the Supreme Court said coercive action by unions to obtain union-only agreements is exempt from antitrust only if the agreement is with an employer "in the construction industry and negotiated in the context of lawful collective bargaining agreements, or possibly to avoid jobsite friction from having union and non-union workers simultaneously on the jobsite." 

Similarly in Glens Falls Building and Construction Trades Council, et al., (Indeck Energy Services of Corinth, Inc.), unions used the threat of environmental opposition to a private project to coerce the private developer to execute a union-only PLA. After the unions withdrew their opposition, the developer filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenging the lawfulness of the union-only PLA.

The Board held that the agreement would be lawful only if the developer was considered "an employer in the construction industry" and the agreement was entered in the context of a bona fide collective bargaining relationship or had the purpose and effect of dealing with the "jobsite friction" issues of having union and non-union workers side by side. The Board found that the union's desire to acquire work for out of work members and achieve a labor monopoly, and the developer's desire to avoid union opposition to the project, were not related to avoiding "jobsite friction". 

PLA Challenges

Adherence to this guidance provided by the Connelland Indeck cases has been inconsistent and at times ignored. Sham environmental lawsuits, zoning and permitting challenges, and threats of boycotts against third parties used to coerce owners to enter into union-only PLAs, has exposed them to antitrust challenges. Agreements with owners and unions that contain a commitment to use a union-only PLA remain common in many parts of the country and are increasingly sought on publicly-owned projects.

Two suits recently filed by developers in Southern California may signal overreach in coercing developers to enter into PLAs, and increasing resistance to pressure to extract union-only agreements.

In Evans Hotels, LLC v. UNITE HERE! Local 30, San Diego County Building and Constructions Trades, et al., the developer, Evans Hotels, alleges that the unions are following a "playbook" to eliminate development of any hotels in San Diego that will not commit to using union labor to build and staff the hotels. When Evans Hotels refused to enter into agreements to use only union contractors, and enter into a card check agreement to facilitate organizing of hotel staff by UNITE HERE!, Evans Hotels alleged the unions implemented their "playbook" of:
  1. making sham environmental and zoning challenges;
  2. pressuring city officials to condition approval of the project on Evans Hotels' agreement to union demands;
  3. pressuring city officials to slow the approval process; and
  4. pressure Evans Hotels' business partners to withdraw from agreements.
After the city's processing of Evans' Hotels' applications for the project ground to a halt, and its business partner backed out of a joint venture, Evans Hotels filed suit in U.S. District Court. The suit alleged an unlawful boycott under the NLRA, an attempt to create a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Act, extortion in violation of RICO statutes, and related claims. Evans Hotels seeks lost profits in excess of $100,000,000 and treble damages under the antitrust laws, as well as injunctive relief.

Similar conduct is challenged by the developer in The Icon at Panorama, LLC v. Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, LiUNA Local 300, et al. This project to redevelop a property that has been vacant for nearly 20 years in a disadvantaged part of Los Angeles was targeted by the unions for a PLA. The developer resisted demands on the basis that the rents that could be charged from the developed property would not justify the expense of using all union contractors.
In response, the unions filed sham environmental challenged under CEQA at every step of the city's approval process. The developer also alleges a conspiracy with others, including environmental firms, to assist the unions with using frivolous challenges designed to achieve a monopoly on construction services in the area. The developer has filed suit in Federal Court alleging that the unions and their environmental consultants have engaged in a pattern of sham environmental litigation and violated:
  1. the Sherman Act by attempting to form a monopoly and directing a boycott;
  2. the Clayton Act by conspiring to enter into an exclusive dealing arrangement;
  3. the NLRA by using coercion to force the developer to sign a PLA when it cannot lawfully do so; and
  4. RICO statutes by engaging in extortion through sham environmental litigation and mail fraud.
While the use of PLAs remain common in many parts of the country, we are starting to see more pushback from employers on the tactics some unions are using to try and coerce developers to enter into these agreements. 

Connect with WECA Industry Partner Cook Brown, LLP here. 
 
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   BICSI's Popular LowVolt Courses Are Back! Explore Fall Offerings at WECA's Rancho Cordova HQ


WECA Instructor John Arias (front right, in the grey shirt) listens intently to the BICSI instructor during the April 15, 2019 session of the BICSI Installer 2, Optical Fiber Training course. 

BICSI classes are heading back to WECA just in time for fall--and we strongly encourage our interested member contractors to enroll themselves or their employees in these courses early, in order to secure seats.

Interested in enrolling yourself or an employee in a BICSI course? See below for the upcoming Fall 2019 dates and to learn more about the courses.  Enrollments are directly with BICSI at the links below. Look for "Rancho Cordova" in the location sidebar for each course.

DD102: Designing Telecommunications Distribution Systems Oct. 28 - Nov. 1

Learn how to design distribution systems in this comprehensive workshop. DD102 is an intensive, hands-on course focused on the design of structured cabling systems. Offering hands-on skill building activities from day one, this knowledge-intensive course instructs you in real-world tasks, preparing you for design roles outside of the classroom. Assignments from the award-winning Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM) augment your learning, allowing you to prepare questions for the classroom. Learn more here.

IN101: BICSI Installer Training Nov. 18 - 22

This course is designed to provide entry-level installers with the background, knowledge and basic skills needed to function safely and effectively as part of a cabling installation team. The BICSI Installer 1 Training course is the introductory course of the Installation Program series. Learn more here.

IN225: BICSI Installer 2, Copper Training Dec. 2 - 6

The course begins with an overview of professionalism, copper transmission principles and general safety practices associated with working with copper cabling. A significant amount of course time will then be spent on BICSI best practices for the installation, termination and testing of copper cable. Learn more here.

IN250: BICSI Installer 2, Optical Fiber Training Dec. 9 - 13

This course will open with an overview of professionalism, fiber transmission principles and the general safety practices related to optical fiber cabling. A significant amount of course time will then be spent on installation, splicing, termination and testing of optical fiber cable. Learn more here. 

TE350: BICSI Technician Training Dec. 16 - 20

A significant amount of course time will be spent on troubleshooting copper and optical fiber cable installations. In addition, this course will cover project planning and implementation at the technician level. Additional topics will include site safety, site surveys, blueprint reading, bonding and grounding (earthing) and firestopping practices.  Learn more here. 

These classes are open to the public. Additionally, they are rarely offered in Northern California, so we encourage our members to take advantage of this convenient opportunity. 

Registrations must be processed directly with BICSI. To learn more about these classes and to enroll yourself or an employee, click on the individual course links above, or visit www.bicsi.org and search course by location for "Rancho Cordova."
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   Industry Bulletin on Behalf of the CSLB: Construction Industry Urged to Help CSLB


August 27, 2019                                                                                       CSLB #19-07

SACRAMENTO -- Undercover sting operations are the best way for the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to catch individuals in the act of contracting without a license. In order to continue these efforts to curb the underground economy, CSLB needs access to more residential and commercial properties to use as sting sites.

The stings are conducted by CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Teams (SWIFT) with the assistance of state or local law enforcement agencies. Every year, investigators issue Notices to Appear in court to hundreds of unlicensed contractors during these undercover operations held year-round throughout California.

Licensed contractors have long been one of CSLB's main sources to find properties - whether occupied or unoccupied - for the one - and two-day operations. It's hoped that more licensees will back CSLB's commitment to leveling the playing field for licensed contractors that follow the rules by helping identify and secure sting properties.

There's a need to find sting properties in areas affected by disastrous wildfires, as well as properties in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties.

Ideal Properties include single family homes, small commercial buildings, especially in strip malls, and industrial buildings.

To learn more about these operations to offer a property for a future sting please contact the SWIFT office closest to you:
Read more >>


Thursday, August 22, 2019   Opinions

 


Richard Markuson

Capitol Weekly's Top 100
 
Capitol Weekly is a publication of Open California, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2012 to inform, enlighten and educate Californians about public policy and state governance, and to provide a platform for engagement with public officials, advocates and political interests.
 
One of their more interesting projects is an annual listing of the top influencers in Sacramento. And no, dear reader, yours truly is not on the list.
 
Fittingly, at the top of the list is Ann O'Leary, Governor Gavin Newsom's chief of staff. Several other staff follow - but number five on the list, and the first "non-government" name - is Robbie Hunter.
 
Robbie Hunter, an ironworker and descendant of a guy who worked on the Titanic, is always high on this list, and deservedly so. His outfit - the State Building and Construction Trades Council, or BCTC - celebrated a major victory in November when they and their allies pushed hard to beat back Proposition 6, the attempt to repeal California's new gasoline tax increase that initially was backed by a narrow majority of voters. The $5 billion tax hike means money for big-ticket construction jobs for thousands of workers at the prevailing wage. BCTC is affiliated with 160 unions with 350,000 members - and that's right up Hunter's alley. Hunter was a go-to person for Jerry Brown on building support for infrastructure funding, and he likely will play a similar function for Newsom, with whom he is fast building a relationship. One veteran Capitol watcher we spoke to said BCTC has become the single most important labor force in California, above even the California Teachers Association and the SEIU. Maybe. But money, jobs and politics are a potent mix in Sacramento, and Hunter stirs the pot.
 
The only two other business folk in the top ten are Allen Zaremberg of the California Chamber of Commerce (8) and Bill Devine with AT&T (10).
 
Other notable influencers are:
 
Scott Wetch (#59): Organized labor is heavily represented on this list, and one of the reasons is Wetch, who represents union interests first, last and always. His clients include the Building and Construction Trades Council (see #5), State Pipe Trades Council and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, among others. Wetch has earned a reputation as a notorious bill-killer if legislation coming out of the Capitol threatens his constituents' interests. He worked at the Capitol for over 12 years prior to teaming up with his now-retired lobbying partner Art Carter.
 
Cesar Diaz (#83): The longtime legislative and political director of the California Building and Construction Trades Council. The Council represents blue-collar workers ranging from boilermakers to bricklayers, and they stand to do well as those much-needed infrastructure repairs and new construction get underway. Diaz was formerly deputy legislative director of the Council and before that was senior policy consultant in the lieutenant governor's office. He works to maintain that McCarthy-style feistiness on behalf of those blue collars.
 
So what does it mean to be on the list? As Anthony York, the former editor of Capitol Weekly put it: "... these lists ... offer a mirror of our little world, filled with that intriguing stew of public service, ideological force and narcissistic drive. That is what makes our political community the frustrating and exhilarating amalgamation that it is." But for the merit-shop community, it is a cautionary note that the head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council is number five on the list - and the first person not in the Newsom administration (at least not officially). You can see the whole list  here.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 22, 2019   What We're Reading, Listening To, and Watching

7 trends making engineering, construction claims bigger and costlier A new report from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) examined rising claims costs related to construction and engineering projects. The hope is that understanding the significant, steady increases in construction claims will enable insurers to better manage the associated risks. The report, Engineering and Construction Claims and Insurance Trends, outlines several trends contributing to these rising costs. 

California Clean California's clean energy efforts received a five-start review from E2, a coalition of business leaders that advocates for better environmental policies. The coalition released its 2019 Clean Jobs Report yesterday that found the Golden State is home to more than 500,000 clean energy workers - more than any other state. It also found that one out of every seven of the United States' clean energy jobs is located in California. The hundreds of thousands of workers are scattered throughout the state working in industries to advance energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean vehicle initiatives. "Year after year, clean energy provides immense value to the California economy - creating thousands of good-paying jobs, protecting the environment for future growth, and attracting billions in investments," said Andy Wunder, E2's Western states advocate. "California lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure those jobs, and the state's clean energy economy, continue to grow by strengthening and implementing forward-looking policies." Most of the jobs are located in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego metros, although Central Valley and coastal counties also account for a significant portion of clean energy posts. The workforce is diverse, too. A quarter of the workers are employed by small businesses with fewer than five employees, 40 percent live outside major cities and close to 10 percent are military veterans. Despite its glowing report, E2 urges California to more aggressively work to reach its carbon reduction targets. "State lawmakers should advance policy that allows for full integration of the Western electric grid to open new markets for California's clean energy resources and reduce customer bills," the report noted. "They should also increase and ensure outgoing, stable funding for clean vehicle initiatives." 

DOL Backs Up on Building Trades Decision: The department quickly reversed course last week on cancelling several apprenticeship contracts with labor and business groups after complaints from the North America's Building Trades Unions, a group that's been a Trump ally, Bloomberg Law's Ben Penn reports. "It appears to us a political decision has been made by a new regime at the Department of Labor," North America's Building Trades Unions chief of staff Mike Monroe told Penn of the initial cancellation. Recently installed acting Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella, "who was not involved in the cancellation decisions, made the call to walk them back Aug. 15," according to Penn. This isn't the first time the Building Trades - which embraced Trump at the start of his presidency - recently has been at odds with the administration. The powerful union federation has "been at the brink of war" with DOL over its apprenticeship initiative, which it worries will undermine its own job-training programs, POLITICO's Ian Kullgren reported. The disagreement threatens to upset a key voting bloc that was essential to Trump in 2016. [Politico]

Central Valley lawmaker files initiative that would boost hydropower Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) has submitted a ballot initiative that would allow large hydropower projects to qualify for state renewable electricity targets, continuing a push by Central Valley lawmakers to boost the resource. Gray filed the initiative Friday with the Secretary of State that would count large-scale hydropower toward California's renewables portfolio standard for utilities. The target is currently set at 60 percent by 2030 by CA SB1000 (17R), but does not include hydropower projects above 30 megawatts because policymakers are trying to encourage development of wind and solar power. "For years, the people of the Northern San Joaquin Valley have been trying to get hydropower recognized for what it is: the original source of clean electricity," he wrote in a recent op-ed in CalMatters. "Our efforts have been stymied by people who feel entitled to decide what is, or isn't, green enough." Gray also introduced a constitutional amendment in the Legislature last month, CA ACA17 (19R), that would do the same thing. And Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) introduced CA SB386 (19R) earlier this session specifically to allow municipal utilities in her region, the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, to count electricity from Don Pedor Dam towards their renewables requirements. Gray also cited the financial burden on Merced, Modesto,  and Turlock in his op-ed, estimating that allowing Turlock to count hydropower would save its 100,000 customers $300 million. "Several environmental organizations and SB 100's author, former Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, went nuts" over Caballero's bill, Gray wrote. "The bill was halted even though the federal government and virtually every other state considers hydropower renewable." An environmentalist pointed out that large hydro would count towards the 2045 "zero-carbon" goal, also contained in SB 100. "It totally counts as a zero-carbon power source once we hit 2030," said Dan Jacobson of Environment California. "I just think we don't need to incentivize hydropower, and we need to continue to incentivize and encourage solar and wind development." [Politico]
Read more >>


Thursday, August 22, 2019   Washington, D.C., Labor Law, and NLRB

SECURE Retirement Legislation Passed in House, Pending in Senate The SECURE Act is still pending in the US Senate, but the legislation passed the House of Representatives with proposed changes that would increase access to defined contribution plans, promote lifetime income options, and affect retirement plan design and administration. Story
  
SEIU Challenges Secondary Boycott Ruling: The NLRB violated workers' First Amendment rights by ruling against janitors who demonstrated outside a building in San Francisco, SEIU argued in a federal court filing this week. The NLRB last year ruled that the janitors, who protested alleged sexual harassment by their boss outside of a building that they cleaned, weren't entitled to federal protection from retaliation. That's because they picketed outside a building where their employer, a contracted cleaning company, wasn't located (rather, the workers protested at the offices of a local radio station where they clean). According to the NLRB, the workers violated the law by directing their opposition at the radio station, a third party, instead of the employer itself - a "secondary boycott" in labor law parlance. But SEIU argues that the board's decision violates the workers' free speech rights, in part because they carried signs clarifying that they were "NOT calling for a boycott of this building." According to the union, the NLRB's reliance on a technicality - the use of the word "their" on a leaflet - to rule against the workers "contradicts the core First Amendment principles" and is "likely to chill protected speech."
 
NLRB Proposes New Election Rules This past week, the National Labor Relations Board proposed new election rules. These two rules, if passed, will ultimately further empower employees with the choice of whether they want union representation. As the proposed changes will impact both employers and unions, everyone involved in the bargaining process should be mindful of these proposals to avoid labor disputes. Story
 
San Francisco Employers May Have to Pay More in Paid Parental Leave Benefits in 2020 As Bay Area employers are well aware, San Francisco has several local employment-related ordinances that provide additional benefits to individuals performing work within the geographical boundaries of the City. One such benefit is paid parental leave.  Story 
Read more >>


Thursday, August 22, 2019   Have Project Labor Agreements Been Taken Too Far?

Content courtesy of WECA Industry Partner Cook Brown, LLP
 


By Dennis Cook and Steve McCutcheon of Cook Brown, LLP For more than a century the interplay between labor and antitrust law has been a difficult one. Congress has attempted to strike a balance between protection of worker rights and prohibitions of anticompetitive activities.

Environmental laws, such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), are increasingly used to force developers to enter into union-only Project Labor Agreements (PLA). Similarly, the use of antitrust, RICO, and the prohibitions of unlawful boycotts under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to address abusive behavior, are coming back to the forefront. 

Antitrust Laws

When most people think of antitrust law, they think of the Sherman Antitrust Act that prohibits "contracts, combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade." It was adopted in 1890 to outlaw monopolistic business practices. After the Sherman Antitrust Act was applied to various forms of union activity, such as boycotts and strikes, Congress adopted the Clayton Act and Norris-LaGuardia Act to restrict courts from intervening in labor disputes. In 1935 Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to protect the rights of workers to bargain collectively, and engage in strikes, picketing, and other concerted activities.

However, the pendulum had swung too far in the unions' favor. Congress recognized employers and individual workers needed protection from abusive and anti-competitive behavior, and passed the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) and Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). These Acts prohibited unions from:
  • engaging in certain forms of boycotts,
  • threatening or coercing neutral employers from doing business with non-union companies, and
  • making "hot cargo agreements" (an agreement to not handle or deal with the products of anyone with whom the union has a dispute) except in the garment and construction industries.
Project Labor Agreements in Construction
Agreements between owners and unions that contain a commitment to use union-only Project Labor Agreements for all labor on a construction project appear to be among the types of anti-competitive behavior prohibited by the antitrust laws. However, exceptions to these laws are applicable to the construction industry. certain collective bargaining relationships have also opened the door to restrictive subcontracting clauses and the use of union-only PLAs.

Examples of Adopting PLAs

The use of PLAs is common in many parts of the country, and courts have provided guidance on how to avoid running afoul of the NLRA and the antitrust laws when adopting PLAs. For example, in Connell Construction Company v. Plumbers Local 100 the Supreme Court said coercive action by unions to obtain union-only agreements is exempt from antitrust only if the agreement is with an employer "in the construction industry and negotiated in the context of lawful collective bargaining agreements, or possibly to avoid jobsite friction from having union and non-union workers simultaneously on the jobsite." 

Similarly in Glens Falls Building and Construction Trades Council, et al., (Indeck Energy Services of Corinth, Inc.), unions used the threat of environmental opposition to a private project to coerce the private developer to execute a union-only PLA. After the unions withdrew their opposition, the developer filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenging the lawfulness of the union-only PLA.

The Board held that the agreement would be lawful only if the developer was considered "an employer in the construction industry" and the agreement was entered in the context of a bona fide collective bargaining relationship or had the purpose and effect of dealing with the "jobsite friction" issues of having union and non-union workers side by side. The Board found that the union's desire to acquire work for out of work members and achieve a labor monopoly, and the developer's desire to avoid union opposition to the project, were not related to avoiding "jobsite friction". 

PLA Challenges

Adherence to this guidance provided by the Connelland Indeck cases has been inconsistent and at times ignored. Sham environmental lawsuits, zoning and permitting challenges, and threats of boycotts against third parties used to coerce owners to enter into union-only PLAs, has exposed them to antitrust challenges. Agreements with owners and unions that contain a commitment to use a union-only PLA remain common in many parts of the country and are increasingly sought on publicly-owned projects.

Two suits recently filed by developers in Southern California may signal overreach in coercing developers to enter into PLAs, and increasing resistance to pressure to extract union-only agreements.

In Evans Hotels, LLC v. UNITE HERE! Local 30, San Diego County Building and Constructions Trades, et al., the developer, Evans Hotels, alleges that the unions are following a "playbook" to eliminate development of any hotels in San Diego that will not commit to using union labor to build and staff the hotels. When Evans Hotels refused to enter into agreements to use only union contractors, and enter into a card check agreement to facilitate organizing of hotel staff by UNITE HERE!, Evans Hotels alleged the unions implemented their "playbook" of:
  1. making sham environmental and zoning challenges;
  2. pressuring city officials to condition approval of the project on Evans Hotels' agreement to union demands;
  3. pressuring city officials to slow the approval process; and
  4. pressure Evans Hotels' business partners to withdraw from agreements.
After the city's processing of Evans' Hotels' applications for the project ground to a halt, and its business partner backed out of a joint venture, Evans Hotels filed suit in U.S. District Court. The suit alleged an unlawful boycott under the NLRA, an attempt to create a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Act, extortion in violation of RICO statutes, and related claims. Evans Hotels seeks lost profits in excess of $100,000,000 and treble damages under the antitrust laws, as well as injunctive relief.

Similar conduct is challenged by the developer in The Icon at Panorama, LLC v. Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, LiUNA Local 300, et al. This project to redevelop a property that has been vacant for nearly 20 years in a disadvantaged part of Los Angeles was targeted by the unions for a PLA. The developer resisted demands on the basis that the rents that could be charged from the developed property would not justify the expense of using all union contractors.
In response, the unions filed sham environmental challenged under CEQA at every step of the city's approval process. The developer also alleges a conspiracy with others, including environmental firms, to assist the unions with using frivolous challenges designed to achieve a monopoly on construction services in the area. The developer has filed suit in Federal Court alleging that the unions and their environmental consultants have engaged in a pattern of sham environmental litigation and violated:
  1. the Sherman Act by attempting to form a monopoly and directing a boycott;
  2. the Clayton Act by conspiring to enter into an exclusive dealing arrangement;
  3. the NLRA by using coercion to force the developer to sign a PLA when it cannot lawfully do so; and
  4. RICO statutes by engaging in extortion through sham environmental litigation and mail fraud.
While the use of PLAs remain common in many parts of the country, we are starting to see more pushback from employers on the tactics some unions are using to try and coerce developers to enter into these agreements. 

Connect with WECA Industry Partner Cook Brown LLP at https://www.cookbrown.com/.
Read more >>


Wednesday, August 21, 2019   LowVolt BICSI Courses Are Back! Explore Offerings at WECA's Rancho Cordova HQ from Oct. 28 - Dec. 20


WECA Instructor John Arias (front right, in the grey shirt) listens intently to the BICSI instructor during the April 15, 2019 session of the BICSI Installer 2, Optical Fiber Training Course.

Low Voltage BICSI classes are headed back to WECA just in time for fall--and we strongly encourage those interested to enroll early, in order to secure seats.

Interested in enrolling in a BICSI course? See below for the upcoming Fall 2019 dates and to learn more about the courses. Enrollments are directly with BICSI at the links below. Look for "Rancho Cordova" in the location sidebar for each course. 

DD102: Designing Telecommunications Distribution Systems Oct. 28 - Nov. 1

Learn how to design distribution systems in this comprehensive workshop. DD102 is an intensive, hands-on course focused on the design of structured cabling systems. Offering hands-on skill building activities from day one, this knowledge-intensive course instructs you in real-world tasks, preparing you for design roles outside of the classroom. Assignments from the award-winning Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM) augment your learning, allowing you to prepare questions for the classroom. Learn more here.

IN101: BICSI Installer Training Nov. 18 - 22

This course is designed to provide entry-level installers with the background, knowledge and basic skills needed to function safely and effectively as part of a cabling installation team. The BICSI Installer 1 Training course is the introductory course of the Installation Program series. Learn more here.

IN225: BICSI Installer 2, Copper Training Dec. 2 - 6

The course begins with an overview of professionalism, copper transmission principles and general safety practices associated with working with copper cabling. A significant amount of course time will then be spent on BICSI best practices for the installation, termination and testing of copper cable. Learn more here.

IN250: BICSI Installer 2, Optical Fiber Training Dec. 9 - 13

This course will open with an overview of professionalism, fiber transmission principles and the general safety practices related to optical fiber cabling. A significant amount of course time will then be spent on installation, splicing, termination and testing of optical fiber cable. Learn more here.
 
TE350: BICSI Technician Training Dec. 16 - 20

A significant amount of course time will be spent on troubleshooting copper and optical fiber cable installations. In addition, this course will cover project planning and implementation at the technician level. Additional topics will include site safety, site surveys, blueprint reading, bonding and grounding (earthing) and firestopping practices. Learn more here. 

These classes are open to the public. Additionally, they are rarely offered in Northern California, so we encourage our apprentices, electrician trainees, and journeymen to take advantage of this convenient opportunity.

Registrations must be processed directly with BICSI. To learn more about these classes and to enroll, click on the individual course links above, or visit www.bicsi.org and search course by location for "Rancho Cordova". 
Read more >>


Wednesday, August 21, 2019   Giving a Warm WECA 'Welcome Back!' to New Lead Instructor for Our ET/CE Program!



It's all come full circle for Galen Eckert, WECA's new Lead Instructor for its Electrician Trainee and Continuing Education programs.

Eckert - a longtime Sacramento resident originally hailing from Cleveland, OH - spent a year in WECA's Electrician Trainee program before joining the Apprenticeship program and graduating as the Commercial Apprenticeship Salutatorian of the class of 2013.

After graduating from WECA, Eckert spent "the majority of my career working for PB Electric in Rancho Cordova, where our main focus was industrial work like water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, lift stations, pump stations, newspaper presses, as well as projects for SMUD."

Though Eckert enjoyed working in the field, there was a yearning to "come home".

"My interest in working for WECA began as a student, because being an instructor 'on the other side of things' intrigued me," said Eckert. "Plus, I always enjoyed teaching and training apprentices and co-workers in the field and thought, 'Why not make it a full-time job?"

As Lead Instructor, Eckert teaches, sets up, and manages the GetWired! labs and its corresponding materials; works with instructors to resolve any issues that may arise; mentors his fellow instructors to be the best instructors possible; helps run the typical day-to-day aspects of the program; and acts as a confidant for instructors and students alike.

"When working in the field, I always took great pride in my hands-on work and my part in creating a perfect finished project," said Eckert. "I now look to take my knowledge of the trade and pass it on to future electricians in hopes of helping them achieve their goals, maximize their potential, and become some of the best electricians around."

Continues Eckert, "My personal philosophy is simple. I am honest, straightforward, and hardworking. And I'm always giving 100 percent to produce a product I can be proud of."

In his personal time, Eckert enjoys building and driving his hot rods, and taking them to car shows and the race track. In addition to that, Eckert likes golfing, fishing, hiking, and stand-up comedy. And last - but not least - Eckert is a Clevelander at heart, stating that he is a "huge fan of all the Cleveland sports teams as well as The Ohio State Buckeyes as Cleveland is my true home."

Welcome home, Galen. We're thrilled to have you back!
Read more >>


Wednesday, August 21, 2019   Harness the Power of the Sun with WECA's Solar Courses; Some With SEI & Mike Holt


Are you interested in broadening your knowledge to focus on solar? We're seeing a lot of opportunities on the horizon for electrical contractors--expand your skill set and make yourself even more valuable to these employers! 

Corporate and consumer interest in solar power is burgeoning, and opportunities for electrical contractors in performing this work are growing.

Get a leg up on the competition with WECA's self-paced online solar courses offered in partnership with Solar Energy International and Mike Holt.

Explore the offerings from our solar course catalog below, and enroll today to join or stay up-to-date with this thriving industry. 

Faultless Solar (32-hour course)

This course combines two of WECA's popular courses, "Faultless" and "Solar Power for Electricians", into one convenient 32-hour package. Learn about how to coordinate information in specific NEC articles, so you can properly select and install the correct electrical circuit components and conductors needed for different load and circuit configurations. Then, build on that knowledge as you learn about the fundamental concepts required for safe, code-compliant installation of residential and commercial-scale Solar Photovoltaic systems. Enroll today!

PVOL101: Solar Electric Design and Installation (Grid-Direct) (60-hour course)
This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is for students who want to learn the fundamentals and gain a solid understanding of various components, system architectures, and applications for PV systems. Successful completion of this course results in State of California Journeyman Continuing Education or Electrician Trainee hours, and also counts as one of the two courses required to qualify students to sit for the NABCEP PV Associate Exam. Enroll today!
 
PVOL202: Advanced PV System Design and the NEC (Grid-Direct) (60-hour course)

This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is for students who want to take a deep dive into National Electrical Code 2017 standards as well as other best practices that pertain to designing grid-direct PV systems. 
Enroll today!

PVOL203: PV System Fundamentals (Battery-Based) (40-hour course)

This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is for students who want to focus on the fundamentals of battery-based PV systems. Components such as batteries, charge controllers, and battery-based inverters are covered in detail, along with safety and maintenance considerations unique to battery-based systems, load analysis, battery bank configuration, and the electrical integration of the system. Enroll today!

 PVOL350: Tools and Techniques for Operations and Maintenance (40-hour course) 

This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is an advanced online training targeted towards solar professionals who want to take their technical skills to the next level. This course is geared towards training PV technicians to safely and effectively perform operations and maintenance (O&M) tasks including inspections, commissioning, performance verification, and troubleshooting.  Enroll today!

The PVOL101 through PVOL203 courses are also offered in Spanish. Learn more here.

Solar Power for Electricians (16-hour course) (2014 NEC Edition)

Learn about the fundamental concepts required for safe, code-compliant installation of residential and commercial-scale Photovoltaic systems.  Enroll today!

Understanding 2014 NEC Requirements for Solar Photovoltaic Systems Home Study (DVD Based) (16-hour course) 

This 16-hour course is based on Mike Holt's "Illustrated Guide to Understanding NEC Requirements for Solar Photovoltaic Systems, based on the 2014 NEC" textbook and DVDs. 
 Enroll today!
Read more >>


Wednesday, August 21, 2019   Start or Continue Your Electrician Trainee Certificate Journey; Enroll in Falll GetWired! Courses


Apprenticeship isn't the only educational path to certification in California--and WECA's GetWired! courses make up our Electrician Trainee Program Certificate, another way to qualify to sit for the certification exam in California!

To learn more about or enroll in WECA's Fall 2019 GetWired! courses, view the Electrician Trainee Course Catalog here. 

Fall courses are open for online enrollment, and of course you can also enroll over the phone at (877) 444-9322, in person, or by email. Many GetWired! courses fill fast; enroll early to secure your seat.

If you have any questions regarding a particular course, please call (877) 444-9322 or email us at info@goweca.com.
Read more >>


Wednesday, August 21, 2019   Around HQ in August: Instructor John Arias Demonstrates Exothermic Welding


WECA instructor John Arias demonstrates exothermic welding for the cameras during filming of an educational demo this week. 

Exothermic welding is the permanent joining of two metals by an exothermic reaction that is not susceptible to loose connections, corrosion or other problems associated with mechanical connections. 

Exothermic welding is utilized in the commercial sector for attaching to the grounding electrode and building steel among other things, and the low voltage sector for attachment to the telecommunication bonding infrastructure.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 15, 2019   LowVolt BICSI Courses Are Back! Explore Offerings at WECA's Rancho Cordova HQ from Oct. 28 - Dec. 20


WECA Instructor John Arias (front right, in the grey shirt) listens intently to the BICSI instructor during the April 15, 2019 session of the BICSI Installer 2, Optical Fiber Training course. 

BICSI classes are heading back to WECA just in time for fall--and we strongly encourage our interested member contractors to enroll themselves or their employees in these courses early, in order to secure seats.

Interested in enrolling yourself or an employee in a BICSI course? See below for the upcoming Fall 2019 dates and to learn more about the courses.  Enrollments are directly with BICSI at the links below. Look for "Rancho Cordova" in the location sidebar for each course.

DD102: Designing Telecommunications Distribution Systems Oct. 28 - Nov. 1

Learn how to design distribution systems in this comprehensive workshop. DD102 is an intensive, hands-on course focused on the design of structured cabling systems. Offering hands-on skill building activities from day one, this knowledge-intensive course instructs you in real-world tasks, preparing you for design roles outside of the classroom. Assignments from the award-winning Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM) augment your learning, allowing you to prepare questions for the classroom. Learn more here.

IN101: BICSI Installer Training Nov. 18 - 22

This course is designed to provide entry-level installers with the background, knowledge and basic skills needed to function safely and effectively as part of a cabling installation team. The BICSI Installer 1 Training course is the introductory course of the Installation Program series. Learn more here.

IN225: BICSI Installer 2, Copper Training Dec. 2 - 6

The course begins with an overview of professionalism, copper transmission principles and general safety practices associated with working with copper cabling. A significant amount of course time will then be spent on BICSI best practices for the installation, termination and testing of copper cable. Learn more here.

IN250: BICSI Installer 2, Optical Fiber Training Dec. 9 - 13

This course will open with an overview of professionalism, fiber transmission principles and the general safety practices related to optical fiber cabling. A significant amount of course time will then be spent on installation, splicing, termination and testing of optical fiber cable. Learn more here. 

TE350: BICSI Technician Training Dec. 16 - 20

A significant amount of course time will be spent on troubleshooting copper and optical fiber cable installations. In addition, this course will cover project planning and implementation at the technician level. Additional topics will include site safety, site surveys, blueprint reading, bonding and grounding (earthing) and firestopping practices. Learn more here. 

These classes are open to the public. Additionally, they are rarely offered in Northern California, so we encourage our members to take advantage of this convenient opportunity. 

Registrations must be processed directly with BICSI. To learn more about these classes and to enroll yourself or an employee, click on the individual course links above, or visit www.bicsi.org and search course by location for "Rancho Cordova."
Read more >>


Thursday, August 15, 2019   Register Today for the Oct. 2 Webinar: "Prevailing Wage and Skilled and Trained Workforce"


Join Cook Brown Partner Carrie Bushman as she discusses:
  • Recently enacted statutory provisions regarding new penalties for non-compliance with skilled and trained workforce requirements;
  • The small project exemption for contractor registration and submission of eCPRs;
  • How to read and interpret prevailing wage determinations, including scopes of work, travel and subsistence provisions, and shift differential provisions;
  • Taking credit for fringe benefit contributions;
  • Public works contractor registration requirements;
  • Apprenticeship compliance; and, 
  • Record keeping requirements, including eCPR.
Register today to join us online on October 2, from 8:30-12pm, for this informative webinar.
This webinar is free for WECA member contractors, industry partners, and their employees. All others are $75/registration.

Want a handy Prevailing Wage reference in the meantime? Purchase WECA's updated ePublication, "Blueprint to California's Prevailing Wage: A Contractor's Guide Second Edition." Now available for Amazon Kindle, and as an Interactive PDF.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors and their employees. All others $75.

Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership benefits and services.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 15, 2019   Harness the Power of the Sun with WECA's Solar Courses; Some in Partnership with SEI & Mike Holt


Are you - or your employees - interested in broadening your knowledge, skill sets, and business offerings? 

Corporate and consumer interest in solar power is burgeoning, and opportunities for electrical contractors in performing this work are growing.

Get a leg up on the competition with WECA's self-paced online solar courses offered in partnership with Solar Energy International and Mike Holt.

Explore the offerings from our solar course catalog below, and enroll today to join or stay up-to-date with this thriving industry. 

Faultless Solar (32-hour course)

This course combines two of WECA's popular courses, "Faultless" and "Solar Power for Electricians", into one convenient 32-hour package. Learn about how to coordinate information in specific NEC articles, so you can properly select and install the correct electrical circuit components and conductors needed for different load and circuit configurations. Then, build on that knowledge as you learn about the fundamental concepts required for safe, code-compliant installation of residential and commercial-scale Solar Photovoltaic systems. Enroll today!

PVOL101: Solar Electric Design and Installation (Grid-Direct) (60-hour course)

This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is for students who want to learn the fundamentals and gain a solid understanding of various components, system architectures, and applications for PV systems. Successful completion of this course results in State of California Journeyman Continuing Education or Electrician Trainee hours, and also counts as one of the two courses required to qualify students to sit for the NABCEP PV Associate Exam. Enroll today!
 
PVOL202: Advanced PV System Design and the NEC (Grid-Direct) (60-hour course) 

This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is for students who want to take a deep dive into National Electrical Code 2017 standards as well as other best practices that pertain to designing grid-direct PV systems. Enroll today!

PVOL203: PV System Fundamentals (Battery-Based) (40-hour course)

This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is for students who want to focus on the fundamentals of battery-based PV systems. Components such as batteries, charge controllers, and battery-based inverters are covered in detail, along with safety and maintenance considerations unique to battery-based systems, load analysis, battery bank configuration, and the electrical integration of the system. Enroll today!

 PVOL350: Tools and Techniques for Operations and Maintenance (40-hour course) 

This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is an advanced online training targeted towards solar professionals who want to take their technical skills to the next level. This course is geared towards training PV technicians to safely and effectively perform operations and maintenance (O&M) tasks including inspections, commissioning, performance verification, and troubleshooting.  Enroll today!

The PVOL101 through PVOL203 courses are also offered in Spanish. Learn more here.

Solar Power for Electricians (16-hour course) (2014 NEC Edition)

Learn about the fundamental concepts required for safe, code-compliant installation of residential and commercial-scale Photovoltaic systems.  Enroll today!

Understanding 2014 NEC Requirements for Solar Photovoltaic Systems Home Study (DVD Based) (16-hour course) 

This 16-hour course is based on Mike Holt's "Illustrated Guide to Understanding NEC Requirements for Solar Photovoltaic Systems, based on the 2014 NEC" textbook and DVDs.  Enroll today! 
Read more >>


Thursday, August 15, 2019   WECA Supports ACE Mentor Program, San Diego Chapter's Electrical Industry Education Initiatives


The Western Electrical Contractors Education Foundation (WECEF) exists to inform, educate and train men and women for successful and satisfying careers in the electrical and low voltage trades.

One such initiative during the 2018-19 fiscal year was its sponsorship of the San Diego Chapter of the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) program. The mission of the ACE program is to ensure that students aspiring to careers in the architecture, construction, and engineering industries can learn the skills needed to develop successful and satisfying careers in those fields.

This year, ACE's San Diego Chapter was able to award over $100,000 in scholarships to 50 juniors and seniors attending 11 high schools in San Diego County. What's more, the generous donations ACE received also enabled them to send one student from each participating high school to a free week-long ACE summer camp!

WECEF and WECA do not currently directly participate in the ACE San Diego Chapter mentoring program, but Don Black, WECA's Apprentice Training Director, says "Some of our instructors have expressed an interest in mentoring," said Black. "It's a fairly significant commitment, but I think it's well worth it. And WECA would 100 percent support our instructors," should they undertake it.

WECEF is excited to continue strengthening its commitment to not only the San Diego community, but also all the communities we serve. And we, of course, eagerly await the great impacts these students will have on their communities and the electrical industry.

Learn more about supporting the ACE Mentor Program in San Diego here. We're proud to see WECA member contractors on the list!
Read more >>


Thursday, August 15, 2019   Around HQ This Week: Instructor John Arias Demonstrates Exothermic Welding


WECA instructor John Arias demonstrates exothermic welding for the cameras during filming of an educational demo this week. Exothermic welding is the permanent joining of two metals by an exothermic reaction that is not susceptible to loose connections, corrosion or other problems associated with mechanical connections. Exothermic welding is utilized in the commercial sector for attaching to the grounding electrode and building steel among other things, and the low voltage sector for attachment to the telecommunication bonding infrastructure.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 08, 2019   Washington, D.C., Labor Law, NLRB, and Recent Court Decisions

Congress is now gone for six weeks, which means that, effectively, President Donald Trump has a megaphone all to himself. It's incredibly difficult for members of Congress to break through when they are outside of D.C.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 08, 2019   What We're Reading, Listening To, and Watching

CalOSHA Adopts Emergency Smoke Regulations 
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has adopted an emergency regulation designed to protect workers from hazards associated with wildfire smoke. The regulation went into effect on July 29, 2019 and will be effective for 180 days. The regulation, however, may be extended if no permanent regulations are in place. It applies to workplaces where the current Air Quality Index for airborne particulate matter is 151 or greater, and where employers should reasonably anticipate that employees could be exposed to wildfire smoke. View the emergency regulations here. 

Building Trades warn Newsom, leaders against deal with Big Tech 
One of California's most powerful organized labor organizations is warning legislators against embracing a deal with tech companies over worker classification. Facing a California Supreme Court decision that could lead many workers to be reclassified as employees rather than independent contractors - and a bill that seeks to enshrine that decision in law - Silicon Valley businesses like Uber and Lyft are lobbying for a compromise that would offer their drivers some labor rights while preserving their contractor status. The prospect of such a deal has met pushback from critics who say it would sell workers short. The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California threw its weight behind that position Wednesday, warning against "allowing technology platform companies to exploit workers by treating them as independent contractors with substandard protections" in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders. "Creating a third category of employment that would allow technology to dictate employment status is a dangerous precedent that would undermine the Building Trades' employment and apprenticeship model by forcing employers to convert in order to compete, causing severe disruption of our entire tax base and social safety net," the letter reads, warning that it would empower "tech platform companies that dispatch misclassified workers to perform construction work." The Teamsters also signed on to the letter, though the group has joined SEIU and the United Food and Commercial Workers in deep discussions with tech companies facilitated by the Newsom administration. The tech industry, meanwhile, hopes a California deal could set a national standard - a position outlined in 
a letter to Congress this week. [Subscriber content: Politico]

Orange County, longtime GOP stronghold, now has more registered Democrats than Republicans "The county that nurtured Ronald Reagan's conservatism and is the resting place of Richard Nixon is now home to 547,458 registered Democrats, compared with 547,369 Republicans, according to statistics released early Wednesday morning by the county Registrar of Voters. And the number of voters not aligned with a political party has surged in recent years, and now tops 440,770, or 27.4% of the county's voters. Democratic leaders attributed the shift to changing demographics, aggressive recruitment efforts and President Trump." [LA Times]

Workplace injuries drive rise in overdoses, suicides An injury serious enough to trigger at least one week off from work almost tripled the combined risk of suicide and overdose death among women and increased the risk by 50% among men, researchers said. Story [Construction Dive]

7 invoice mistakes that waste time, moneySubmitting an invoice for completed work and then getting paid is about as straightforward as the construction business gets. Or at least it should be. Getting paid on time is the lifeblood for contractors, but many consistently make the same mistakes over and over when handling this vital process. Story[Construction Dive]

Contract deal gives 10% raise or more to state safety and law enforcement employees "Pay for dispatchers, security officers, inspectors and other public safety and law enforcement employees at the state will go up at least 10 percent over the next four years in a tentative agreement their union reached with the state. Additional pay raises of up to 24 percent for specific job classifications will boost pay further for the majority of the California State Law Enforcement Association's members, according to a union summary of the agreement. The 7,300-member union is the second to reach an agreement with state negotiators this summer. The agreement includes a general salary increase of 2.75 percent starting this month, followed by annual increases of up to 2.5 percent through 2022, when members will receive either 2.25 percent or 3.75 percent depending on classification." [Sacramento Bee]
Read more >>


Thursday, August 08, 2019   Opinions




Richard Markuson

Did IBEW Just Put a Nail Into the C-46 Coffin? In a meeting of the California State Labor Board Legislative Committee - one filled with charges of inexperienced and untrained workers involved with the installation of energy storage systems (ESS) - the Committee instructed staff (lucky them) to craft a proposal that would limit the heretofore unfettered ability of solar contractors to install ESS for only smaller residential projects, and then bring it back to the Committee. C-46, therefore, could install ESS if:
 
  • It is limited to a PV system up to 10kW on a single-family dwelling or duplex with a battery system that must not exceed a 5kW backup/20kWh energy.
  • The battery system is installed at same time as solar PV system.
  • No upgrade or alteration is made to the existing electrical system.
 
The hearing, which lasted more than five hours, was still standing room only despite the meeting having been moved to a large auditorium at the California Employment Development Department. What's more is that so many people watched the hearing online, that the Web server crashed several times.
 
Supporters of an outright ban on C-46 installing anyESS included IBEW, NECA, and - of course - a group of Democrat legislators who regularly feed at the IBEW trough, such as Diane Ravnik (the former head of the Division of Apprenticeship Standards and a former IBEW training director), California Apprenticeship Committee member Yvonne de la Peña, and the Sierra Club. Wait - don't they want more solar? Sorry, I am confused.
 
While the final outcome will take months (or years) to complete, two things this episode should remind merit-shop leaders of are:
 
  1. IBEW may not wait for the board to act and could amend a bill in the last month of session to accomplish this change (if so, the bill would go into effect January 1, 2020).
  2. The power of labor - and in particular IBEW - to decimate another contractor group is ignored at peril.
 
An excellent write up of the day is here.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 08, 2019   State Elections

Special Election in AD 01 (Northeast California) The same interests that got together to buoy Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) in the SD 01 special election earlier this year are now back together to push to fill his former Assembly seat with his wife, Megan Dahle. The California Realtors Association and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association have each kicked in $50,000 to a new independent expenditure effort for the August 23 special primary. While Dahle is the favorite, it's going to be tough for her to exceed 50 percent in the special primary. Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt will likely receive around 30 percent. That leaves 70 percent to split among five Republicans, making that majority very tough. The special general would be on November 5. [The Nooner]

2020 Primary in CD 50 Former San Diego councilman Carl DeMaio announced he's planning to challenge Republican Duncan Hunter, whose legal troubles make him a target in 2020. "If we don't change who the nominee is going into the 2020 election, I'm worried Republicans will lose yet another seat," DeMaio said in his announcement. Hunter goes on trial next month for alleged campaign finance violations. The proceedings could get ugly, with a judge authorizing testimony on Hunter allegedly spending campaign money on extramarital affairs. DeMaio isn't the only one to sense an opening, with multiple other Republicans already in the running. But the big wild card is former Rep. Darrell Issa, who gave up the adjacent CA-49 seat since claimed by Rep. Mike Levin. [Politico]
Read more >>


Thursday, August 01, 2019   Brittain Insurance Services: Tailor-Made Insurance for the Discerning Electrical Contractor


When it comes to insuring your livelihood, WECA Industry Partner Brittain Insurance Services is a company that has got you covered.

In business for nearly 30 years? Check. Family-owned and run? Check. Dedicated not only to their customers, but also to their greater community? Check!

"We specialize in electrical contractors," said John Brittain IV, President of Brittain Insurance Services. "And our firm was established to provide efficient solutions for the insurance and risk management needs of businesses and individuals. Our services include risk analysis, claims review, and development of a plan to deal with your risks and protect your assets."

Electrical contractor-focused services include: coverage of contractors' tools in transit, and the writing of contractors' liability insurance, project-specific insurance, professional liability insurance, business auto insurance, and all property insurance.

Beyond that, Brittain Insurance Services also specializes in claims management, loss control, and specialized programs for commercial auto insurance specifically tailored for electrical contractors.

So, what does Brittain Insurance Services not do? As it turns out, not much. President John Brittain IV currently serves as President of the Covina Rotary Club and volunteers his time to several community projects that help the homeless and veterans in the greater Covina community.

WECA is proud to have Brittain Insurance Services as one of our Industry Partners - and we strongly encourage our Member Contractors to work with them, too.

"With our 10 percent discount, we can help save WECA members money and provide our professional services to help mitigate their exposures," said Brittain IV.

WECA Member Contractors interested in utilizing Brittain Insurance Services' products may contact them at the following:
 
John Brittain IV, President, Certified Insurance Counselor

Brittain Insurance Services

john@brittaininsurance.com

(626) 967-7985
Read more >>


Thursday, August 01, 2019   Thank You, DeWalt, for Your Generous Donations!



(Left to right: Instructor Rick Mortensen, DeWalt representative Monce' Mejia, DeWalt representative Nathan Longabach, and Instructor Talon Pobuda pose by DeWalt's generous donations!)

Thank you, DeWalt, for helping supplement the world-class educations our apprentices receive in the labs!

DeWalt Tools recently donated display boards, 20-volt battery operated tools, and 10 12-volt drills for students to use in the labs. 
   
This donation is part of DeWalt's initiative of reaching out to training facilities - like WECA - to allow starting tradesmen to experience their tools and renowned quality first-hand. 

What's more is that DeWalt makes it personal - they sent their San Diego-area representatives, Monce' Mejia and Nathan Longabach, to hand-deliver the donations!
Read more >>


Thursday, August 01, 2019   Correction to 2017-2 Prevailing Wage Increases Effective August 1, 2019 Forward

We recently discovered that increases 4 - 7 of 7 beginning August 1, 2019 for the 2017-2 Prevailing Wage Determination that covers Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra (the portion lying outside of the Tahoe Basin), Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo, and Yuba counties were incorrect for apprentices. Corrections have been made and posted to WECA's website.

If you previously downloaded any of these increases, please discard them and download the corrected versions under 'Wage Resources' here.

If you need OT or DT rates for any of these increases, please email chall@goweca.com and we will calculate the correct OT and DT rates for you.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 01, 2019   Nomination deadline extended to August 15th: Serve on the WECA Health and Welfare Board of Trustees

Would you like to give back to the industry, help shape direction at WECA, learn from and collaborate with other contractors, and enhance your own leadership skills?

WECA has two open positions on the WECA Health and Welfare Board of Trustees, and we have extended our nominations deadline!

Members, please check your inboxes for an email from WECA with a link to the nominations form. 
Read more >>


Thursday, August 01, 2019   Members: Watch Your Mailboxes for Your Complimentary Copy of WECA's 2019 Labor Law Book


The 2019 edition of WECA's "Selected California Laws Affecting Electrical and Low Voltage Contractors" is here! It's an important reference guide - for members, the industry, and the general public - to the latest new and amended laws that could affect your business. 

WECA Members, watch your mailboxes--your complimentary copy is on the way!
Not a Member Contractor with WECA yet? No worries - you can purchase the 2019 edition of "Selected California Laws Affecting Electrical and Low Voltage Contractors" in our Amazon store. Or join the association and receive it in your welcome package, along with gaining access to the rest of our array of member services and benefits!
Read more >>


Thursday, July 25, 2019   Opinions

 

Richard Markuson

House Approves Pension Bail-Out Bill: 
The US House of Representatives voted 264-169 on Wednesday to advance the Democrats' multiemployer pension bill, H.R. 397 (116), which would create a new Treasury agency to issue bond-backed loans to failing multiemployer pension plans.  [View summary of the bill as introduced here. View draft bill text here.] Of the roughly 1,350 U.S. multiemployer plans in 2017, about 770 - or 57 percent - were in the construction industry, says Ben Ablin, a consulting actuary with Horizon Actuarial Services LLC. Such plans, typically negotiated by a labor union with multiple businesses within a particular industry, ran into financial trouble with the decline of manufacturing, trucking, and coal mining. Without a legislative fix, the multiemployer pensions' insurer, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, is facing its own insolvency in 2025 - a threat that could eviscerate millions of Americans' retirement benefits. PBGC head Gordon Hartogensis issued a statement earlier Wednesday calling on Congress to enact "a long-term, sustainable solution taking into account fairness to retirees, workers, taxpayers, and employers," adding that "Only bipartisan compromises have a chance of succeeding." The legislation faces slim odds in the US Senate, where Republicans previously declined to support a similar bill, the Butch Lewis Act, which they deemed a government bailout. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D - Ohio) reintroduced that legislation in the Senate on Wednesday.
 
Back in 2017 the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) noted that "As many as 114 multiemployer pension plans covering nearly 1.3 million workers are severely underfunded and headed toward failure within the next 20 years." Horizon updated that recently to 130 plans in "critical and declining" condition including about 35 in construction, which cover 30,000 participants. According to SHRM "The troubled plans have total assets of $43.5 billion and liabilities of $79.9 billion, leaving unfunded liabilities-future benefit payouts promised to retirees and beneficiaries for which reserve funds have not been set aside-of $36.4 billion." Is it any wonder that unions are pushing PLAs that require contractors to pay into the union's pension plans?
 
Just three of the pension plans account for $22.8 billion-or more than 62.5 percent-of the $36.4 billion in unfunded liabilities of failing multiemployer plans. The Teamsters' Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Plan has the most unfunded liabilities at $17.2 billion, followed by the Bakery and Confectionary Union's plan ($3.2 billion) and the United Mine Workers' ($2.4 billion).


Sponsors of single-employer plans shouldn't be overly concerned about a spillover threat to the PBGC's single-employer system. "The PBGC's own financial reports and projections indicate that its single-employer system is strong and sound," noted John Lowell, an Atlanta-based partner and actuary with October Three, a pension advisory firm.
 
Conservative economists maintain that the multiemployer pension crisis is more than 10 times larger than the $54 billion estimate, and that Congress would be wasting taxpayer money by lending money to struggling pension plans. Olivia S. Mitchell, an economist who has worked on pension and Social Security reform around the world for four decades and teaches at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, noted last month: "Because of flaws in the legislation structuring the multiemployer insurance program, these pension plans and the employers who sponsor them have been permitted to:
  • vastly understate retirement plan liabilities;
  • avoid contributing what should have been paid to keep the plans solvent;
  • pay far too little for the insurance premiums backing the plans in case of insolvency;
  • withdraw from the business without ponying up what was owed to the plans; and
  • invest in risky assets thus putting benefits in doubt.
These policies are tailor-made to create underfunded plans that would need to rely on the PBGC, while leaving the PBGC financially unable to back these plans.
 
Single-employer plans cannot follow such practices and are required to make higher contributions, address unfunded liabilities more rapidly, and pay higher premiums to the PBGC. Yet multis are permitted to take advantage of lower funding rules and continue making promises they cannot keep.
 
For instance, single employers that go out of business are required to cover pension promises out of company assets, while in the multiemployer system, a bankrupt employer's obligations are passed on to surviving firms.
 
Single-employer plans must use corporate bond rates to measure their liabilities, but multiemployer plans across the board have assumed much higher rates to cut "required" pension contribution rates.
 
But - with the house in control of the Democrats (or as some refer to them - the Labor Party) and with an election next year - passage in the House was a given.
 
So who will bail out the multis if the Democrats win the Senate and the Presidency next year? You and I and every other taxpayer in the USA.
Read more >>


Thursday, July 25, 2019   State Legislation

California First State to Clarify Definition of Race Discrimination to Include Hair Style. Governor Gavin Newsom signed  SB 188 into law on July 3, 2019. SB 188, also known as the CROWN ACT, "Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair," clarifies the definition of race for the workplace and educational institutions to include hair texture and protective hairstyles and defines protective hairstyles. While certain states have proposed legislation, California is likely the first state to protect employees from racial discrimination based on hairstyle. New York City banned hair discrimination earlier this year. Story [Jackson|Lewis]

California Extends Paid Family Leave from 6 Weeks to 8 Weeks Beginning on July 1, 2020, California will extend the maximum duration of Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits from six weeks to eight weeks. Individuals may receive benefits from California's state disability insurance (SDI) program:
  • To care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or domestic partner.
  • To bond with a minor child within one year of the birth or placement of the child through foster care or adoption.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law these most recent changes in Senate Bill 83, on June 27, 2019. Senate Bill 83 was part of a larger state budget package for the new fiscal year that starts July 1 and is a move toward the governor's goal of ultimately expanding paid family leave to six months (for two parents if leave is taken consecutively). Story [Jackson|Lewis]

State Regulations Cal/OSHA Appeals Board Proposes Revisions to Procedural Rules. The Cal/OSHA Appeals Board has proposed to revise its rules of practice and procedure in a number of ways. Most significantly, the Board seeks to remove the requirement that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) automatically produce its inspection file and other relevant documents within 30 days. Instead, appellant employers will be required to seek this information through the ordinary course of discovery. This change, which the Board is accepting comments on until August 22, 2019, comes at a time when the California Department of Industrial Relations is seeking to enhance workplace safety enforcement efforts and simultaneously streamline its appeals process to reduce a backlog of the Board's dockets.
Story [Reed Smith]
Read more >>


Thursday, July 25, 2019   Labor Law, NLRB, and Recent Court Decisions

Ninth Circuit Reinstates California Off-The-Clock Work Claims Related to Post-Shift Security Checks In a unanimous decision in Rodriguez v. Nike Retail Srvs., the Ninth Circuit overturned a California district court's ruling in a wage and hour class action under the California Labor Code that granted Nike's motion for summary judgement after applying the federal de minimis doctrine.  Story [Hunton Andrews Kurth]

NLRB Explains When Granting Benefits to Nonunion Employees and Withholding the Same From Union Workers Can Be Lawful On May 7, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision that will be welcomed by employers desiring to maintain differences in the benefits provided to their union and nonunion employees. In Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corp., the Board held that a company's decision to grant nonunion employees an additional paid day off while requiring union employees to work the same day was lawful under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The analysis offered in the majority's opinion may assist employers in understanding how they can comply with the NLRA when, for legitimate business reasons, they decide to grant a benefit to non-represented employees while withholding the same benefit from employees who are represented by a union. Story [Ogletree Deakins]
Read more >>


Thursday, July 25, 2019   What We're Reading, Listening To, and Watching

Why Rent Control is Ridiculous New York's rent control laws are truly bizarre and now a man who checked into a hotel and as a result claimed to own the hotel has even managed to get a housing court to agree. Story 

Sacramento City Council rejects Union Greenmail Attempt The Sacramento City Council quickly dismissed an appeal of approvals for downtown project 10K Tuesday night, rejecting environmental concerns raised by a labor union.  Story [Business Journal]

Contractor relationship major cause of San Francisco Subway issues The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's (SFMTA) $1.6 billion Central Subway project will start service 428 days later than the deadline in its Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Full Funding Grant Agreement, according to a federal monitor's report. With approximately 85% of major work complete at the end of April, outstanding claims of $102 million for changes will exceed available contingency funds of $47.6 million, the report from the FTA's Project Management Oversight Committee (PMOC) said. Story [Construction Dive]

More Labor Unrest in Sanders Campaign:An unfair labor practice charge was filed against Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign Monday, alleging that employees have faced retaliation for participating in protected union activities, among other things. The details of the allegations won't be revealed until the NLRB conducts an investigation, but the charge states that the campaign illegally disciplined and discharged a worker and modified the campaign's contract with the union. The charge, first reported by Labor Union Report, comes after The Washington Post reported last week that unionized employees were demanding annual salaries that would be equivalent to a $15 hourly wage, a rate Sanders says should be the federal minimum wage. [Politico]

Home Sales Update: June 2019 Home sales can be a good indicator of the health of the state's economy and housing markets. Home sales have been relatively weak in recent months. This continued in June, which had an estimated 25,900 non-distressed (not resulting from mortgage delinquency or foreclosure) home sales statewide in May. This (is) below the 28,000 sales in June 2018 and the long-term historical average of 31,400 sales per month. (This data is "seasonally-adjusted" because some months are predictably higher or lower than others.)




Senate Won't Act on Cadillac Tax Before Recess The US Senate has started the process for bringing directly to the floor the House bill to repeal Obamacare's "Cadillac tax" but the vote won't happen until after the August recess, according to POLITICO sources. The House last week easily passed legislation to repeal the tax on high-cost employer-provided health insurance that was supposed to help pay for the Affordable Care Act.  Story [ASCE]

Recruitment Struggles Latinos, Asian Americans and women are underrepresented among applicants for the California commission that draws congressional districts, and some advocacy organizations are asking for a deadline extension to address the disparities. Since the application period for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission opened June 10 this year, just over 7,500 people have applied with just over two weeks to go before the deadline. But about two thirds of the applicants are white, though less than 40 percent of the state's population is white. Six percent are Asian American or Pacific Islander, compared to nearly 16 percent of the general population. Less than 13 percent of applicants are Latino, the state's largest ethnic group at 39 percent of the population. Women make up just under 39 percent of applicants. A coalition of organizations sent a letter on Tuesday to state auditor Elanie Howle, who oversees the commission, asking her to extend the deadline to September 20. The state auditor's office hasn't yet had a chance to thoroughly review the request but plans to do so, said spokeswoman Margarita Fernandez. For now, the deadline to apply for the commission is August 9. [Sacramento BEE]
Read more >>


Wednesday, July 24, 2019   Congratulations to Our Southern California Class of 2019 Graduates!

2019 WECA Southern California Graduation

2019 WECA Southern California Graduation

And that's a wrap! Congratulations to our Southern California Class of 2019 graduates! May the successes, knowledge, and lessons learned during your WECA apprenticeship continue to carry you to great heights.

WECA's Southern California graduation - held on July 13th at the picturesque Falkner Winery in Temecula - was an evening to remember as graduates and their loved ones celebrated the end of a long but rewarding journey.

"It doesn't get much more perfect than this," said Wendy Flanagan, WECA's Assistant Director of Apprenticeship. "Nor does it ever get old, watching these students' family and friends come together to cheer them on."
Attendees started out the evening with a lively cocktail hour and a delectable dinner provided by Falkner Winery's own Pinnacle Restaurant before moving onto the main attraction - the graduation itself!

WECA Southern California instructor Rick Labon emceed the ceremony, and his fellow Southern California instructors Talon Pobuda, Neil Pesarillo, Rick Mortensen, and Raymond Newton, as well as WECA Apprentice Training Director Don Black, were on hand to present the graduates with their diplomas. During the ceremony, WECA's Southern California valedictorians were presented with commemorative plaques and gifted items from WECA Industry Partner Ideal Industries, Milwaukee Tools, and Klein Tools. Additionally, the salutatorians received gifts from Ideal Industries.

The Valedictorians and Salutatorians for the Southern California Class of 2019 were:

Valedictorians
  • Tyler Nicks (Commercial)
  • Robert Bucklin (Low voltage)
  • Alan Torres (Residential)
Salutatorians
  • Ryan Galarneau (Commercial)
  • Alonso Arturo, Jr. (Low voltage)
The evening concluded with a raffle of special swag for graduates, courtesy of WECA Industry Partner Ideal Industries.

Congratulations, all! We here at WECA look forward to watching our graduates continue to shape and revolutionize the merit shop electrical industry!
Read more >>


Wednesday, July 24, 2019   Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors and Donors for Making the SoCal Graduation Memorable!

The gracious support we've received from our sponsors means a lot to us - and our graduates, of course!

Our sponsors helped to make our graduates' graduation day memorable, and for that, we cannot thank them enough.

Thank you for your continued support of WECA! 

Read more >>


Wednesday, July 24, 2019   Electrician Trainee Spotlight: Vernon de Peralta


Electrician Trainee Certificate Program Grad Vernon de Peralta (left) with Instructor Talon Pobuda at WECA's 2019 Graduation Ceremony

"Their experience is gold." 

That's what Vernon de Peralta, a 2019 electrician trainee graduate, had to say about WECA's instructors.

De Peralta also shared that instructor John Arias "is a very good instructor; informative and knowledgeable. If you had a question or didn't understand a subject or question, he would try his best to walk you through it and he got the class involved in his lectures."

"A good guy to know," de Peralta mused.

De Peralta - who came to WECA by way of a car audio background - was inspired to enter the electrical trade and study at WECA by supportive and experienced coworkers.

"They were also in the program," said de Peralta. "And I wanted to expand my knowledge in commercial housing and construction, learn more about myself, and advance my career."

Ahead of his graduation, de Peralta fondly reminisced about his time at WECA.

"You meet many people from all over in your classes. And weekend labs were fun, because you had a chance to meet good instructors and apply hands-on training and knowledge of what you would be doing in the actual field," said de Peralta.

In the spirit of his upcoming graduation, de Peralta offered up sage words of advice to current and future students.

"Take notes - lots of notes - and get the proper textbooks. Also listen to the instructors because they say a lot of things that are not in the books," said de Peralta.

Looking back at his time in the program, de Peralta stated "I'm proud to have the electrician trainee program under my belt. I can use that valuable knowledge for a raise, and even after I leave my current job, I can take my WECA Electrician Trainee program certificate with me. I may plan to join the commercial housing industry."

What's more, de Peralta enthused that he is "very excited about my future. And I am proud to be affiliated with WECA."
Read more >>


Wednesday, July 24, 2019   Employee Spotlight: Rebecca Archer


At WECA, we take pride in having become a second home and family for our employees.

And Rebecca Archer - WECA employee of six years, in her current role of Curriculum Production and eLearning Specialist since 2018 - is the perfect embodiment of that.

Archer - a native of Galt, California - studied English at Consumes River College and worked as a night and weekend receptionist at a tax and accounting business in Galt for three tax seasons before joining the WECA team. After obtaining her degree, Archer was looking for a similar role in a different industry, and WECA fit the bill.

"I was interested in how the association comes together to offer training and support for electricians throughout the state," said Archer.

Archer's first two positions with WECA were that of Assistant ET/Journeyman Registrar and, following a promotion, ET/Journeyman Registrar, respectively.

"In both roles I was responsible for processing eCommerce enrollments, maintaining and ordering inventory, and providing backup for both the apprenticeship and ET programs," said Archer. "I also maintained the association's files."

Archer then landed in her current position when she "filled in on a GetWired! curriculum project based on some previous editing work I had done with the marketing team, and it ended up being something I really enjoyed."

WECA Director of Marketing, Product, and Learning Michelle Gilkey comments that "Rebecca's skill and professionalism were obvious, and we were thrilled to be able to redirect her efforts to the important role she now plays in keeping the technical and logistical aspects of our education programs on point."

As the Curriculum Production and eLearning Specialist, Archer runs WECA's eCampus (online LMS, or Learning Management System), implements updated curriculum for all of WECA's educational programs, and provides technical support for GetWired! online learning courses.

"I like working to deliver curriculum and helping to further improve what we're doing and how we deliver it," said Archer.

Ahead of her sixth working anniversary at WECA, Archer mused that she would "like to help further improve our curriculum and expand our course offerings to our students."

When not keeping things at WECA in ship-shape or helping students fulfill their career goals, Archer enjoys playing video games, reading, and all things tea-related.

Especially tea - although Archer reports that it did take her a while to appreciate it.

"I used to hate any tea that wasn't oolong," said Archer. "And I still absolutely hate green tea, but my favorites are white, oolong, and mint teas."

And occasionally, Archer even combines two of her passions - reading and tea - into one.

"I just read a book about tea earlier this year. For example, did you know that white, oolong, black, and green teas are all made using the same leaves? Or that there is a black market for tea where people sell counterfeits of rare teas?"

We hope working at WECA remains Archer's cup of tea for a good long while.
Read more >>


Wednesday, July 24, 2019   Industry Spotlight: the All-American Ideal Industries


Ideal Industries is all-American.

This sentiment was perfectly illustrated on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 - stocked with specially-requested Ideal wire strippers - and its crew landed on the moon in a lunar landing module constructed with Ideal tools.

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted that flag into the lunar soil and saluted it, Ideal was there.

And fifty years later, "American ingenuity runs through everything we do - especially our commitment to producing tools here," said Kristen Pentolino, Ideal's Area Sales Manager for Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, and Las Vegas.

Pentolino further stated that "it's not just about making high-quality tools, but it's about making them the right way - with American steel and American labor, right here in the USA. Look for our Made in the USA badge for tools that are American through and through."

And that commitment to excellence permeates everything Ideal does. Their products offer electricians start-to-finish excellence - from their industry-defining wire connectors and fish tapes, to their superior wire strippers to their advanced electrical testers.

"We are the electrician's champion," said Pentolino. "From pulling wire to installation to testing connection, we understand what electricians go through during every stage of the job, and design tools and supplies to make each stage easier."

To that end, Ideal's partnership with WECA strives to offer value-added services to enrich the educational experience of WECA apprentices, electrician trainees, and journeymen.

"From the classroom to the jobsite, Ideal is committed to being the ultimate training partner for students and apprentices. We want to assist students in gaining the tools they need to be successful in the field," said Pentolino.

This is evident in Ideal's practice of hiring employees who are intimately acquainted with not only the electrical industry, but also the electrical trade school industry. A perfect example is Ned Johns, Ideal's Western Region Area Training Manager. Prior to joining Ideal, Johns was a commercial electrician instructor at WECA for a decade.

"Having Ned at Ideal is wonderful," said Terry Seabury, WECA's Executive Director and CEO. "It has helped strengthen our partnership with Ideal, and our member contractors and students can rest easy knowing that Ned knows exactly what they're looking for."

With strong partnerships like this, everyone wins. WECA's member contractors and students can benefit from a 25 percent discount on tools and supplies. Member contractors interested in utilizing Ideal's products and services can contact their local Ideal sales manager below, while students interested in utilizing Ideal's products and services can either contact their local Ideal sales manager below or visit the IDEAL4students page.

To learn more about Ideal's products, services, and/or training programs, contact them at the below:

Ned Johns, Area Training Manager: Ned.Johns@idealindustries.com for questions about training programs

Elissa Wenster, Western Regional Manager: Elissa.Wenster@idealindustries.com for questions about products and services that Ideal offers

But the benefits don't end there.

Another perk of Ideal's partnership with WECA is the opportunity for WECA-affiliated students and professionals to compete in a qualifying event - leading to the opportunity to compete in the Ideal National Championship - for a chance at over $500,000 in cash and prizes.

WECA member contractors and students who are interested in competing can learn more here.
Read more >>


Wednesday, July 24, 2019   Heads Up, Journeymen! Time's Running Out for WECA's Exclusive Employee and Member July Special!


32 Hours of Continuing Education: Easily Fulfilled! 

WECA-developed Packages for Journeymen: "Perfect Sizing", "Faultless Solar", "Voice Data Video Exam Preparation", and "Fire Life Safety Exam Preparation". Currently available for $150 each to journeymen and their contractors through July 31, 2019. 

WECA is offering Perfect Sizing, Faultless Solar, Voice Data Video Exam Prep, and Fire Life Safety Exam Prep. - all 32-hour online classes - to WECA journeymen and their member contractors at the special price of $150 each for the month of July! Journeymen can choose from these four courses and get their full 32 renewal hours for just $150.

Only employees of WECA member contractors are eligible for this deal. 

To get the discount, these courses must be ordered by phone, mail, fax, email, or walk-in, so we can confirm employment with a WECA member contractor. These discounts are not available through online enrollment. Quickest way: call us at 1-877-444-9322!

Perfect Sizing:

In this course, students learn about sizing motor circuits, sizing motor feeder circuits, wiring motors and air conditioners, and proper selection and installation of the correct electrical circuit components and conductors needed for different load and circuit configurations.

Learn more about Perfect Sizing
But call in to get your discount!
 
Faultless Solar:
 
This course combines two of WECA's popular 16-hour courses, "Faultless" and "Solar Power for Electricians," into one convenient 32-hour package. Journeymen learn about how to coordinate information in specific NEC articles, so they can properly select and install the correct electrical circuit components and conductors needed for different load and circuit configurations. Then, build on that knowledge as they learn about the fundamental concepts required for safe, code-compliant installation of residential and commercial-scale Solar Photovoltaic systems.
 
Learn more about Faultless Solar
But call in to get your discount!

Fire Life Safety Exam Preparation:

This self-paced online course is for students who want to study for the California Fire Life Safety Technician certification exam at their own pace. Informative presentations help guide students through the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70) as well as the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA 72). It is meant for individuals almost ready to take the exam. Much of the class is dedicated to sample testing similar to state exams. It focuses on practical research by the students to find the answers to code questions rather than instruction by lecture.

Learn more about Fire Life Safety Exam Prep.
But call in to get your discount!

Voice Data Video Exam Preparation

This self-paced online course is for students who want to study for the California Voice Data Video Technician certification exam at their own pace. Informative presentations help guide students through developing proficiency in the preparation for and execution of the VDV certification exam. It is meant for individuals who are almost ready to take the exam. Much of the class is dedicated to sample testing similar to state exams. It focuses on practical research by the students to find the answers to questions rather than instruction by lecture.

Learn more about Voice Data Video Exam Prep.
But call in to get your discount!

Note: if you have previously taken any of the standalone classes "Faultless," "Solar Power for Electricians," "Sizing Motor Circuits," "Wiring Motors and Air Conditioners," or "GetWired! 304" on the current code year (2014), please consult a WECA client services representative for help selecting the appropriate 32-hour package.
  
What if you don't work for a WECA member contractor?
You can still enroll in these classes at our usual competitive pricing. Or, tell your contractor about WECA! Ask them to read all about our  member benefits and services, including our training discounts for their employees.
Read more >>


Wednesday, July 24, 2019   It's Time to Enroll - Oct-Dec 2019 Course Catalog On Its Way to Your Mailbox, or Access Online!


It's that time again, WECAns! 

Keep a look out for the WECA Session 4 (October - December 2019) course catalog, coming soon to your mailbox. 

In it, you'll find new course listings for Electrician Trainees and Journeymen Continuing Education for October through December, as well as all our classroom, GetWired!, and self-paced favorites. And keep your eyes peeled--there may even be a valuable coupon code in there as well! 
 
Can't wait? Okay, fine...you can download it here
 
Or, access our full online course catalog for completely up-to-date course information, 24/7/365. 
Read more >>


Wednesday, July 24, 2019   WECA's Contractor Authorization Forms: An Easy Way to Stay on Top of Your Training

One of the benefits of WECA enrollment is having everything you need to seamlessly track your training in one comprehensive place. Our Authorization for Release of Records forms help you do just that.

WECA's Authorization for Release of Records forms allow journeymen and electrician trainees enrolled at WECA to grant their employers permission to communicate with and receive records from WECA for a period of time, as stipulated either by the student or the form type.

Alternatively, your employer may also file authorization forms on your behalf if you are enrolled in an electrician trainee or continuing education program. 

Authorization forms allow for the release of records such as grades, attendance reports, progression letters, completion certificates, and program enrollment and renewal information. Your employer will be able to ensure that you are working to meet your 150-hour continuing education requirement for state renewal. Further, your employer may request to be copied on all correspondence their you receive. However, your employer must notify WECA of this request. 

Please note that WECA now offers three - rather than the previous four - different versions of the authorization form:
  • For electrician trainees: the form expires upon the student's request or upon completion or cancellation of the program; whichever occurs first
  • For journeymen: the form expires upon the student's request or three years after the signed effective date; whichever occurs first
  • Release of records for general students and electrician trainees who work for non-member contractors: these forms will expire 30 days from the effective date or upon the student's request; whichever occurs first
Electrician trainees and journeymen who wish to obtain and/or file authorization forms may do so by signing and submitting the form to etregistrar@goweca.com. Upon submission and processing of the form, your employer will have access to your information on their member dashboard within two business days.

Additionally, your employer - if you are an electrician trainee (ET) - will also be able to assist you in maintaining active ET cards with the State of California and help monitor your progress in the program.

Electrician trainees will also receive ET overview reports. Your employer will also gain access to these reports, whose release are also included in the filing of the authorization forms.
ET reports provide the following benefits to both you and your employer:
  • Transcript browse: this function allows members to pull up-to-date copies of their employees' transcripts for renewal purposes
  • ET or journeyman certificate browse: allows members to pull course completion certificates for their employees who have successfully met course requirements to pass
  • ET enrollment letter browse: allows members to find proof of the student's active renewal with WECA, either for initial registration with the State of California or for renewal purposes
  • Active ET student status: allows members to see the current status of their employees and see if they are enrolled, or currently between classes and their deadline to get signed up to maintain enrollment with WECA
  • Daily grades and attendance: allows members to check on their employee's current grades and attendance for the classes they are attending
Read more >>


Wednesday, July 24, 2019   Open Up a Whole New World of Possibilities with a WECA Low Voltage Apprenticeship


Do you enjoy the technical and analytical side of things?

Or perhaps you have a friend or family member who does.

If so, a career as a low voltage technician is a great choice! And the timing is perfect, too - WECA is currently seeking apprentice applicants from the Sacramento, Stockton, Los Angeles, and Bay Area regions who want to help make our modern world possible. 

So what, exactly, does a low voltage technician do? Great question!

Low voltage technicians specialize in installing, testing, servicing, and maintaining systems such as:
  • fire alarm systems
  • security systems
  • nurse call systems
  • voice evacuation systems
  • very early smoke detection apparatuses
  • open-area smoke imaging detection systems
  • cable and satellite TV
  • the Internet
  • home entertainment systems
  • landline phone networks
And at WECA, we can help you achieve a fast-paced, satisfying career as a low voltage technician.

 Apply today to start your low voltage apprenticeship journey! 
Read more >>


Thursday, July 18, 2019   Congratulations to Our Southern California Class of 2019 Graduates!

2019 WECA Southern California Graduation


2019 WECA Southern California Graduation

And that's a wrap! Congratulations to our Southern California Class of 2019 graduates! May the successes, knowledge, and lessons learned during your WECA apprenticeship continue to carry you to great heights.

WECA's Southern California graduation - held on July 13th at the picturesque Falkner Winery in Temecula - was an evening to remember as graduates and their loved ones celebrated the end of a long but rewarding journey.

"It doesn't get much more perfect than this," said Wendy Flanagan, WECA's Assistant Director of Apprenticeship. "Nor does it ever get old, watching these students' family and friends come together to cheer them on."

Attendees started out the evening with a lively cocktail hour and a delectable dinner provided by Falkner Winery's own Pinnacle Restaurant before moving onto the main attraction - the graduation itself!

WECA Southern California instructor Rick Labon emceed the ceremony, and his fellow Southern California instructors Talon Pobuda, Neil Pesarillo, Rick Mortensen, and Raymond Newton, as well as WECA Apprentice Training Director Don Black, were on hand to present the graduates with their diplomas. During the ceremony, WECA's Southern California valedictorians were presented with commemorative plaques and gifted items from WECA Industry Partner Ideal Industries, Milwaukee Tools, and Klein Tools. Additionally, the salutatorians received gifts from Ideal Industries.
The Valedictorians and Salutatorians for the Southern California Class of 2019 were:

Valedictorians
  • Tyler Nicks (Commercial)
  • Robert Bucklin (Low voltage)
  • Alan Torres (Residential)
Salutatorians
  • Ryan Galarneau (Commercial)
  • Alonso Arturo, Jr. (Low voltage)
The evening concluded with a raffle of special swag for graduates, courtesy of WECA Industry Partner Ideal Industries.

Congratulations, all! We here at WECA look forward to watching our graduates continue to shape and revolutionize the merit shop electrical industry!
Read more >>


Thursday, July 18, 2019   Thank You, Sponsors, for Making WECA's Southern California Class of 2019 Graduation Memorable!


The gracious support we've received from our sponsors means a lot to us - and our graduates, of course!

Our sponsors helped to make our graduates' graduation day memorable, and for that, we cannot thank them enough.
Read more >>


Thursday, July 18, 2019   Employee Spotlight: Rebecca Archer



At WECA, we take pride in having become a second home and family for our employees.

And Rebecca Archer - WECA employee of six years, in her current role of Curriculum Production and eLearning Specialist since 2018 - is the perfect embodiment of that.

Archer - a native of Galt, California - studied English at Consumes River College and worked as a night and weekend receptionist at a tax and accounting business in Galt for three tax seasons before joining the WECA team. After obtaining her degree, Archer was looking for a similar role in a different industry, and WECA fit the bill.

"I was interested in how the association comes together to offer training and support for electricians throughout the state," said Archer.

Archer's first two positions with WECA were that of Assistant ET/Journeyman Registrar and, following a promotion, ET/Journeyman Registrar, respectively.

"In both roles I was responsible for processing eCommerce enrollments, maintaining and ordering inventory, and providing backup for both the apprenticeship and ET programs," said Archer. "I also maintained the association's files."

Archer then landed in her current position when she "filled in on a GetWired! curriculum project based on some previous editing work I had done with the marketing team, and it ended up being something I really enjoyed."

WECA Director of Marketing, Product, and Learning Michelle Gilkey comments that "Rebecca's skill and professionalism were obvious, and we were thrilled to be able to redirect her efforts to the important role she now plays in keeping the technical and logistical aspects of our education programs on point."

As the Curriculum Production and eLearning Specialist, Archer runs WECA's eCampus (online LMS, or Learning Management System), implements updated curriculum for all of WECA's educational programs, and provides technical support for GetWired! online learning courses.

"I like working to deliver curriculum and helping to further improve what we're doing and how we deliver it," said Archer.

Ahead of her sixth working anniversary at WECA, Archer mused that she would "like to help further improve our curriculum and expand our course offerings to our students."

When not keeping things at WECA in ship-shape or helping students fulfill their career goals, Archer enjoys playing video games, reading, and all things tea-related.

Especially tea - although Archer reports that it did take her a while to appreciate it.

"I used to hate any tea that wasn't oolong," said Archer. "And I still absolutely hate green tea, but my favorites are white, oolong, and mint teas."

And occasionally, Archer even combines two of her passions - reading and tea - into one.

"I just read a book about tea earlier this year. For example, did you know that white, oolong, black, and green teas are all made using the same leaves? Or that there is a black market for tea where people sell counterfeits of rare teas?"

We hope working at WECA remains Archer's cup of tea for a good long while.
Read more >>


Thursday, July 18, 2019   Electrician Trainee Spotlight: Vernon de Peralta

Electrician Trainee Certificate Program Grad Vernon de Peralta (left) with Instructor Talon Pobuda at WECA's 2019 Graduation Cermony

"Their experience is gold."

That's what Vernon de Peralta, a 2019 electrician trainee graduate, had to say about WECA's instructors.

De Peralta also shared that instructor John Arias "is a very good instructor; informative and knowledgeable. If you had a question or didn't understand a subject or question, he would try his best to walk you through it and he got the class involved in his lectures."

"A good guy to know," de Peralta mused.

De Peralta - who came to WECA by way of a car audio background - was inspired to enter the electrical trade and study at WECA by supportive and experienced coworkers.

"They were also in the program," said de Peralta. "And I wanted to expand my knowledge in commercial housing and construction, learn more about myself, and advance my career."

Ahead of his graduation, de Peralta fondly reminisced about his time at WECA.

"You meet many people from all over in your classes. And weekend labs were fun, because you had a chance to meet good instructors and apply hands-on training and knowledge of what you would be doing in the actual field," said de Peralta.

In the spirit of his upcoming graduation, de Peralta offered up sage words of advice to current and future students.

"Take notes - lots of notes - and get the proper textbooks. Also listen to the instructors because they say a lot of things that are not in the books," said de Peralta.

Looking back at his time in the program, de Peralta stated "I'm proud to have the electrician trainee program under my belt. I can use that valuable knowledge for a raise, and even after I leave my current job, I can take my WECA Electrician Trainee program certificate with me. I may plan to join the commercial housing industry."

What's more, de Peralta enthused that he is "very excited about my future. And I am proud to be affiliated with WECA."
Read more >>


Thursday, July 18, 2019   Industry Partner Spotlight: the All-American Ideal Industries


Ideal Industries is all-American.

This sentiment was perfectly illustrated on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 - stocked with specially-requested Ideal wire strippers - and its crew landed on the moon in a lunar landing module constructed with Ideal tools.

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted that flag into the lunar soil and saluted it, Ideal was there.

And fifty years later, "American ingenuity runs through everything we do - especially our commitment to producing tools here," said Kristen Pentolino, Ideal's Area Sales Manager for Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, and Las Vegas.

Pentolino further stated that "it's not just about making high-quality tools, but it's about making them the right way - with American steel and American labor, right here in the USA. Look for our Made in the USA badge for tools that are American through and through."

And that commitment to excellence permeates everything Ideal does. Their products offer electricians start-to-finish excellence - from their industry-defining wire connectors and fish tapes, to their superior wire strippers to their advanced electrical testers.

"We are the electrician's champion," said Pentolino. "From pulling wire to installation to testing connection, we understand what electricians go through during every stage of the job, and design tools and supplies to make each stage easier."

To that end, Ideal's partnership with WECA strives to offer value-added services to enrich the educational experience of WECA apprentices, electrician trainees, and journeymen.

"From the classroom to the jobsite, Ideal is committed to being the ultimate training partner for students and apprentices. We want to assist students in gaining the tools they need to be successful in the field," said Pentolino.

This is evident in Ideal's practice of hiring employees who are intimately acquainted with not only the electrical industry, but also the electrical trade school industry. A perfect example is Ned Johns, Ideal's Western Region Area Training Manager. Prior to joining Ideal, Johns was a commercial electrician instructor at WECA for a decade.

"Having Ned at Ideal is wonderful," said Terry Seabury, WECA's Executive Director and CEO. "It has helped strengthen our partnership with Ideal, and our member contractors and students can rest easy knowing that Ned knows exactly what they're looking for."

With strong partnerships like this, everyone wins. WECA's member contractors and students can benefit from a 25 percent discount on tools and supplies. Member contractors interested in utilizing Ideal's products and services can contact their local Ideal sales manager below, while students interested in utilizing Ideal's products and services can either contact their local Ideal sales manager below or visit the IDEAL4students page.

To learn more about Ideal's products, services, and/or training programs, contact them at the below:

Ned Johns, Area Training Manager: Ned.Johns@idealindustries.com for questions about training programs

Elissa Wenster, Western Regional Manager: Elissa.Wenster@idealindustries.com for questions about products and services that Ideal offers

But the benefits don't end there.

Another perk of Ideal's partnership with WECA is the opportunity for WECA-affiliated students and professionals to compete in a qualifying event - leading to the opportunity to compete in the Ideal National Championship - for a chance at over $500,000 in cash and prizes.

WECA member contractors and students who are interested in competing can learn more here.
Read more >>


Thursday, July 18, 2019   Congratulations! WECA Member Contractors Dominate SBJ Top 25 List!

This year, 15 WECA Member Contractors made the Sacramento Business Journal's list of Top Electrical Contractors, holding well over half the positions and dominating the rankings. 
 
Click Image for Full List

WECA ran a congratulatory ad in the Journal in February, and you can watch for the list and the ad again in the Sacramento Business Journal's keepsake "Book of Lists" edition in December. Please join us in congratulating all the listed contractors!
 
Click to View Larger

Our members who made the list, in listed order, are:

1. Rex Moore Group Inc.

2. Royal Electric Co.
4. Barnum & Celillo Electric Inc.
6. Helix Electric Inc.
8. North State Electrical Contractors Inc.
9. Capitol Valley Electric Inc.
10. Vasko Electric Inc.
12. Alessandro Electric Inc.
13. All-Bright Electric Inc.
14. Butterfield Electric Inc.
15. Bosley Electric Co.
16. Perfection Electric Co. Inc.
18. Garrahan Electric Inc.
19. KS Telecom
20. Ample Electric Inc.

We feel confident our member contractors will continue to dominate the list in future years-let's see if someday soon we can take all 25 spots! 

 
WECA was included on the Sacramento Area-based Business Advocacy Groups as well, landing in #16th place! Take a look below!
Click Image for Full List
Read more >>


Thursday, July 18, 2019   Act Fast - Time Running Out For Exclusive WECA Member and Employee July Special


32 Hours of Continuing Education: Easily Fulfilled! 


WECA-developed Packages for Journeymen: "Perfect Sizing", "Faultless Solar", "Voice Data Video Exam Preparation", and "Fire Life Safety Exam Preparation". Currently available for $150 each to members and their employees through July 31, 2019. 

WECA is offering Perfect Sizing, Faultless Solar, Voice Data Video Exam Prep, and Fire Life Safety Exam Prep. - all 32-hour online classes - to 
WECA member contractors and their employees at the special price of $150 each for the month of July! Members' journeymen can choose from these four courses and get their full 32 renewal hours for just $150.
Only employees of WECA member contractors are eligible for this deal. 

To get the discount, these courses must be ordered by phone, mail, fax, email, or walk-in, so we can confirm employment with a WECA member contractor. These discounts are not available through online enrollment. Quickest way: call us at 1-877-444-9322!


Perfect Sizing:

In this course, students learn about sizing motor circuits, sizing motor feeder circuits, wiring motors and air conditioners, and proper selection and installation of the correct electrical circuit components and conductors needed for different load and circuit configurations.

 Learn more about Perfect Sizing
  But call in to get your discount!
 
Faultless Solar:
 
This course combines two of WECA's popular 16-hour courses, "Faultless" and "Solar Power for Electricians," into one convenient 32-hour package. Journeymen learn about how to coordinate information in specific NEC articles, so they can properly select and install the correct electrical circuit components and conductors needed for different load and circuit configurations. Then, build on that knowledge as they learn about the fundamental concepts required for safe, code-compliant installation of residential and commercial-scale Solar Photovoltaic systems.
 
Learn more about Faultless Solar
But call in to get your discount!

Fire Life Safety Exam Preparation:

This self-paced online course is for students who want to study for the California Fire Life Safety Technician certification exam at their own pace. Informative presentations help guide students through the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70) as well as the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA 72). It is meant for individuals almost ready to take the exam. Much of the class is dedicated to sample testing similar to state exams. It focuses on practical research by the students to find the answers to code questions rather than instruction by lecture.

Learn more about Fire Life Safety Exam Prep.
But call in to get your discount!

Voice Data Video Exam Preparation

This self-paced online course is for students who want to study for the California Voice Data Video Technician certification exam at their own pace. Informative presentations help guide students through developing proficiency in the preparation for and execution of the VDV certification exam. It is meant for individuals who are almost ready to take the exam. Much of the class is dedicated to sample testing similar to state exams. It focuses on practical research by the students to find the answers to questions rather than instruction by lecture.

Learn more about Voice Data Video Exam Prep.
But call in to get your discount!


Note: if you or your journeymen have previously taken any of the standalone classes "Faultless," "Solar Power for Electricians," "Sizing Motor Circuits," "Wiring Motors and Air Conditioners," or "GetWired! 304" on the current code year (2014), please consult a WECA client services representative for help selecting the appropriate 32-hour package.
  
What if you don't work for a WECA member contractor?

You can still enroll in these classes at our usual competitive pricing. Or, tell your contractor about WECA! Ask them to read all about our  member benefits and services, including our training discounts for their employees.
Read more >>


Thursday, July 18, 2019   Don't Forget: Stay on Top of Employee Training w/ Contractor Authorization Forms

One of the benefits of WECA membership is having everything you need to seamlessly track your employees' training in one comprehensive place. Our Authorization for Release of Records forms help you do just that.


WECA's Authorization for Release of Records forms allow journeymen and electrician trainees enrolled at WECA to grant their employers permission to communicate with and receive records from WECA for a period of time, as stipulated either by the student or the form type.


Alternatively, member contractors may also file authorization forms on behalf of their employees if the employees are enrolled in an electrician trainee or continuing education program. 


Authorization forms allow for the release of records such as grades, attendance reports, progression letters, completion certificates, and program enrollment and renewal information. Member contractors will also be able to ensure that their employees are working to meet their 150-hour continuing education requirement for state renewal. Further, member contractors may request to be copied on all correspondence their employees receive. However, the member contractor must notify WECA of this request. 

Please note that WECA now offers three - rather than the previous four - different versions of the authorization form:
 
  • For electrician trainees: the form expires upon the student's request or upon completion or cancellation of the program; whichever occurs first
  • For journeymen: the form expires upon the student's request or three years after the signed effective date; whichever occurs first
  • Release of records for general students and electrician trainees who work for non-member contractors: these forms will expire 30 days from the effective date or upon the student's request; whichever occurs first
Member contractors or their employees who wish to obtain and/or file authorization forms may do so by either obtaining the student's signature, or signing the form, and submitting the form to etregistrar@goweca.com. Upon submission and processing of the form, contractors will have access to their students' information on their member dashboard (accessible here ) within two business days.

Member contractors - if the concerned employee(s) are electrician trainees (ETs) - will also be able to assist those employees in maintaining active ET cards with the State of California and help monitor their employees' progress in the program.

Employees enrolled in the ET program will also receive ET overview reports. Member contractors employing ETs will also gain access to these reports, whose release are also included in the filing of the authorization forms.

ET reports provide the following benefits to both member contractors and their employees:
  • Transcript browse: this function allows members to pull up-to-date copies of their employees' transcripts for renewal purposes
  • ET or journeyman certificate browse: allows members to pull course completion certificates for their employees who have successfully met course requirements to pass
  • ET enrollment letter browse: allows members to find proof of the student's active renewal with WECA, either for initial registration with the State of California or for renewal purposes
  • Active ET student status: allows members to see the current status of their employees and see if they are enrolled, or currently between classes and their deadline to get signed up to maintain enrollment with WECA
  • Daily grades and attendance: allows members to check on their employee's current grades and attendance for the classes they are attending
To obtain ET reports, contractors may login to the WECA website with their member login.

WECA is also pleased to announce that additional benefits will be added in the future, such as improved enrollment functionality online for member contractors with students already in the program, to improve the user experience for our member contractors. 
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Thursday, July 18, 2019   Hiring? Post Today to Our Job Board or Access Our Student Referral Service!

 
WECA's Electrical and Low Voltage Industry Job Board is designed to help connect individuals seeking employment in the electrical and low voltage industry with the WECA member contractors who want to hire them. 
 
Our job board exists for...
  • Talented electricians
  • Low voltage technicians
  • Electrician Trainees
  • Industry employees (including office personnel)
  • And the Member Contractors who want to hire them. 
View this WECA-provided, free, no-obligation service HERE, and post a position to help you find your next great employee today! You can also view active resumes here as part of your member contractor benefits.

You may also use our free job referral service connecting currently-unemployed ETs, Journeymen, and WECA Graduate job seekers to Member Contractors in order to help meet their staffing needs. It's included with your contractor membership!  

This service provides additional customer service by having WECA staff supply you with hands-on referrals. In other words, we take some of the hard work off your plate. The Student Referral Service refers job-seekers to you, and you hire them directly.
To receive referrals from WECA's Student Referral Service, please contact Ana Lopez, WECA ET/Journeyman Program Manager, at alopez@goweca.com or 1-877-444-9322.
 
Post a job today!
 
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Thursday, July 18, 2019   Today's Read: Union-rigged government contract scheme plays favorites, robs jobs


Content courtesy of Pacific Legal Foundation


Editor's note: The company prominently featured in the article - Lakeside Electric - is actually Laketown Electric.


If you've ever visited the Twin Cities region of Minnesota, there's a decent chance you've encountered the work of Lakeside Electric. In fact, CEO Matt Bergman says the electrical handicraft of the company his dad started 44 years ago is woven into many large buildings Minnesotans use every day.


"We've done municipal projects like wastewater treatment plants, police stations, city halls, courthouses, and jails," Matt says. "We've also done ball fields and a brewery. And we're doing a food hall in downtown Minneapolis that will have six different restaurants. Nearly anything you can name, we've done it."


Much of the work came about after Matt took the helm of the family business following his father's death seven years ago. Since then, the firm has grown from 12 employees to 110, opened a second location, and offers training and profit-sharing bonuses, making it one of the fastest growing companies in the Twin Cities.


Despite their proven expertise, one area remains virtually untouchable to Matt's team: the Minneapolis School District.


Read more here
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Thursday, July 18, 2019   Today's Read: It's Time to Take CEQA Reform Seriously


Content courtesy of Borre Winckel and the Voice of San Diego

Regulations in California have something of a dubious (and occasionally comical) reputation within the state and throughout the country. California is a state notoriously draped in red tape, complicating just about everything imaginable. After all, it was just last year that we were debating whether your morning coffee needed to come with a cancer warning. Unfortunately, some of the red tape in our state is misused to a much graver and more dangerous extent, putting low-income residents and entire sectors of the economy at risk.

Nowhere is this more plainly visible than in the weaponization of the California Environmental Quality Act, known more commonly as CEQA. Originally written with the noble intention of ensuring that new development projects around California were undertaken in an environmentally responsible manner, it has since become a blunt-force bit of regulation used to put permanent holds on important housing and development projects throughout the state. Instead of protecting the environment, CEQA is now often misused to freeze a critical sector of our economy and keep our courts full.

California's housing prices have been impossibly high for some time, and they continue to rise. State residents are having a tough time finding an affordable place to live, and in one study conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, 35 percent of respondents said they are considering moving out of state altogether because of how expensive it has become to live here. California has long been a place where people dream of living, and we should not let housing prices get in their way.

Read more here
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