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WECA Political Update August 19, 2021

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Santa Barbara County Moves to Adopt County-Wide PLA. On a 3-2 vote, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted to negotiate a County-Wide PLA with the Tri-Counties Building Trades (Hartman, Hart, Williams – AYE). They will use the recently adopted City PLA as a basis (a $5 million threshold and separate core-workforce provisions for local contractors. For reasons known only to himself and his puppet masters, Supervisor Williams suggested the county should have a lower threshold, being “much larger” than the city. Board Chair Hartman explained the PLA was necessary for a “gig economy” but could not articulate how the gig economy was intersecting with public works construction in Santa Barbara (or anywhere). WECA member Blum Electric joined with a dynamic group of local contractors who opposed the effort. The Santa Barbara Independent noted, “Das Williams exemplifies the broken campaign finance system we have. Williams accepted over $30,000 in donations from cannabis growers while he was responsible for writing the regulations for cannabis cultivation. When the cannabis industry generated $6.7 million last year, $1.3 million more in tax revenue than the county supervisors had initially budgeted, Das Williams felt entitled to spend the surplus immediately.” They also observed supervisor Das Williams…was cited by the Grand Jury as the origin of our county’s cannabis troubles.” What he did to Santa Barbara residents with cannabis, he is now doing with county construction!

The San Joaquin Valley Sun reports that Assemblyman Rudy Salas will challenge Congressman David Valadao in 2022. “Following months of rumors, it appears Asm. Rudy Salas will plunge to oust Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford) next year, Kern and Kings County Democratic sources confirmed to The Sun. The five-term Democratic legislator who succeeded Valadao in the Assembly has spent much of the year working to line up support among key backers. But it's not exactly going to be an easy ride. Why? Salas is already staring down a tug-of-war for party support with another Kern County moderate Democrat legislator: former Asm. Nicole Parra (D–Bakersfield). And he might have more competition, with the prospect of Valadao's predecessor – former Rep. TJ Cox (D–Fresno) – returning for a third-straight bid to win the south Valley seat. Story

Recall Ballots have been mailed, and voters may want to watch the Inside California Politics gubernatorial debate at 7 p.m. tonight, featuring former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, and businessman John Cox. (Talk show host Larry Elder and reality star Caitlyn Jenner say they’re not participating in any debates.) The hourlong forum will air on KRON4 in San Francisco, KTLA in Los Angeles, KSWB FOX5 in San Diego, KTXL FOX 40 in Sacramento, KSEE in Fresno, and KGET in Bakersfield. It will also stream online on each station’s website.

In related recall news, an initial hearing in a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the upcoming recall has been scheduled for the end of the month. The suit, which seeks to either stop the September 14 recall from going forward or add Gov. Gavin Newsom's name to the list of replacement candidates, will have its first hearing in the Central District of California on August 30, according to a filing Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald. Plaintiffs filed the suit last week, days after prominent legal experts raised the possibility of challenging the recall on the same constitutional grounds. Attorney General Rob Bonta's office will represent Secretary of State Shirley Weber; the suit named the defendant. Bonta's response is due August 24, and the plaintiffs' reply is due August 26.

And finally, PPIC is holding a virtual discussion on the recall on Thursday, September 2, 2021, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PT. “Californians are already casting mail-in ballots in a special election on the recall and replacement of Governor Gavin Newsom. How did we get here, and what is at stake for California? A panel of top political journalists will talk about the recall process and explore the implications of the election and its outcome.” Register here.

Valley Political Dynasty? Politico reports, “With State Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg termed out, son Daniel— a progressive activist and businessman —today launches his plans to run for his father’s 18th Senate District seat. The younger Hertzberg already has the backing of two powerhouse SoCal endorsers in his bid for the San Fernando Valley seat: Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) and former Assembly Speaker John Pérez. The younger Hertzberg, in an email to supporters, said, “Public service has been deeply ingrained in my DNA since I was a kid ... I know I’ve got big shoes to fill, but I know that together, we can continue the Hertzberg tradition of fighting for the Valley’s fair share—and we can also fight for change in Sacramento.” Yikes!

New Vaccine Requirements for Federal Contractors The Biden administration recently announced that “every federal government employee and onsite contractor will be asked to attest to their vaccination status” and that anyone who “does not attest to being fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice-weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.” To help carry out this new policy, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force recently published Agency Model Safety Principles for executive departments and agencies for their COVID-19 safety plans. Story

NLRB’s New General Counsel Outlines Ambitious Pro-Union Agenda the NLRB is set to have a pro-union majority beginning on August 28, 2021. After that date, employers should expect the NLRB to start aiming a panoply of employer-friendly rulings and standards. On August 12, newly appointed General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo took the first step in advancing that pro-union shift by outlining her ambitious agenda in a 10-page memo to NLRB staff across the country. As the NLRB’s top prosecutor with the ability to control which cases and issues are investigated and pursued, Abruzzo wields significant power. Story

California Energy Commission mandates solar for new buildings from 2023 The California Energy Commission’s five-member panel voted unanimously recently to require solar panels and battery storage in new commercial buildings and specific multifamily residences beginning January 1, 2023. Existing law requires California to reach 40 percent below 1990 greenhouse gas levels by 2030. Still, the state has a series of less-binding targets: Former Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order in 2018 to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an order last year to make all new passenger vehicle sales zero-emission by 2035. Newsom also sent a letter to CARB last month directing it to include a 2030 carbon neutrality goal in its scoping plan. Story

Study Finds High Levels of Perceived Discrimination In The Building Industry New research has quantified the level of discrimination that people of color and women workers experience in the commercial and residential building industries. Seventy-two percent of Black or African-American respondents and 66 percent of women respondents to a National Institute of Building Sciences survey said they had experienced discrimination or prejudice while at work. People from other non-White groups also indicated encountering similar attitudes. Story

BLS: 87.3% of U.S. Construction Industry Does Not Belong to A Union According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual union members summary report published January 22, 2021, union membership in the construction industry declined in 2020. Story

Fresno Lawmakers Post Surprising Fundraising Figures As 2022 Looms Even with the recall around the corner, it appears that more than 18 months out isn't too early to start raising money for the next election. That seems to be the case for a sizable chunk of Fresno's City Council, who reported their fundraising totals for the first half of 2021. They were overshadowed, however, by the marquee battle to replace Esmeralda Soria. She terms out of her post in 2022. The race is between PR whiz Cary Catalano and State Center Community College Trustee Annalisa Perea. Story

Why Are Key California Affordable Housing Bills Bottled Up? CalMatters notes: “Encouraging housing to be built in place of abandoned big box stores and strip malls and making it easier to build student housing near community colleges; establishing authority in Los Angeles to finance affordable housing. These proposals all promise to ease California’s ever-worsening housing crisis by adding or preserving the already-scarce supply. But these bills also appear to be dead in the water. As often happens in the Legislature, it’s impossible to say for certain, and key players remain tight-lipped. But several observers of the housing debate noted a significant similarity among the bills: they all require that a portion of the workforce that builds the housing be graduates of mostly union-run apprenticeship programs.” Story

Maine Governor Vetoes PAGA Bill California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) has done far more harm than good since its inception. Maine’s Governor, Janet Mills, clearly recognized this when she vetoed L.D. 17111 earlier this month. L.D. 1711 would have enacted a law nearly identical in practice to California’s own PAGA statute and made Maine the only other state in the nation to have such a law on the books. Story