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WECA Political Update September 2, 2021

Thursday, September 02, 2021

AFL-CIO Picks IBEW Lobbyist as President And no—it is not Scott Wetch. Politico reports “The AFL-CIO’s executive council voted to appoint Liz Shuler as the federation’s president following the unexpected death of Richard Trumka. Shuler is the organization’s first female president, a historic moment for organized labor in the U.S. She will serve as the nation’s top union official until summer 2022, when the AFL-CIO’s 50-plus affiliates can gather for their annual convention to vote on a permanent successor. Shuler’s first job in labor was as an organizer for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in 1993. She eventually worked her way up to become a lobbyist for IBEW and, later, executive assistant to its president, before Trumka named her his running mate in 2009.” Her top priorities: “I'm going to continue to carry the mantle on this sprint to the end on infrastructure and getting that across the finish line,” she said. “In particular I'm thinking of the investments in care,” as well as “making sure those are good jobs. We want labor standards attached to make all of these investments with our tax dollars work for working people. Of course the PRO Act continues to be a major focus. And you've seen all of the organizing efforts that have been happening on the ground, the strikes that are happening, workers are in motion right now. We need to capitalize on that momentum and get these important pieces of legislation passed but also continue to invest in organizing and mobilizing on the ground.”

Recall A couple readers asked if WECA had a recommended candidate or a position on the recall of Governor Gavin Newsom (we don’t). David Crane, who worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger and now runs Govern for California wrote an interesting analysis about the recall election. You can read it here. In related news: the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California in a recent poll found that 58 percent of likely voters surveyed in California oppose removing Newsom from office compared to 39 percent who support recalling the governor, a gap rooted in the sharp partisan divide between Democratic and Republican voters in the state.

Vice President Harris has cast eight tie-breaking votes so far in the Senate Vice President Kamala Harris (D) has so far cast eight tie-breaking votes in the Senate. Her two most recent tie-breaking votes were to invoke cloture and then confirm Jennifer Abruzzo on July 20 and 21 as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. In unrelated news, a new Rasmussen Reports survey found that 55 percent of likely voters in the U.S. say that Harris is not qualified to assume the duties of the presidency. Story

EEO-1 Reporting Deadline Extended Until October 25, 2021 The EEOC has announced on its EEO-1 Data Collection website that it has, again, extended the deadline for filing EEO-1 Reports this year—this time to October 25. Employers still rushing to finalize and upload their 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 reports by the prior August 23 deadline will certainly welcome this extra breathing room. More

Related to that… OFCCP Reverses Course, Will Use EEO-1 Pay Data for Investigation, Enforcement (You saw that coming, didn’t you?) On September 1, 2021, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the Department of Labor sub-agency charged with enforcing affirmative action and non-discrimination requirements imposed on federal contractors by way of Executive Order 11246, announced that it was reversing its prior position regarding the use of EEO-1 compensation data collected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for calendar years 2018 and 2019 (the so-called “Component 2”). Story

Headline Risk — Apparently, Republicans’ faith in Big Business has plummeted, a dramatic change in sentiment that coincides with the rise of corporate social responsibility and voter populism. Since 2019, the share of rank-and-file Republicans who say large corporations have a positive impact on the U.S. has fallen by almost half, to 30 percent from 54 percent, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults. The upshot: Republicans used to be the party of business. These days, there’s not much light between them and Democrats, Pew found. “It’s striking, there’s no question about it,” said Carroll Doherty, Pew’s director of political research. “For large corporations specifically, members of both parties are saying they have a negative impact on the country.” Businesses are feeling it. Lobbyists reportedly say that while they still have friends in Washington, it has become much harder to get even bipartisan legislation passed. GOP attitudes toward big banks and tech companies took a dive, too, Pew found, and regulation is a growing threat. “Republican leaders obviously listen to their voters,” Doherty said. “The ground is shifting.” We saw this under Trump, who famously went to war with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups over his trade policies. In the Biden era, companies that wade into policy debates over voting rights and diversity are drawing fire from conservative groups.

Corporate Shaming Consumers’ Research, a Washington-based nonprofit, has launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to agitate against Coca-Cola, American Airlines and other companies with political-style naming-and-shaming ads. Executive Director Will Hild said companies are using hot-button social issues to distract consumers from bad service, forced labor practices and other failings.

Long-Term Energy Storage The Newsom administration is proposing language in the state budget to promote new energy sources—including storage—wind and solar power and fuel cells. Budget trailer bill language that came from Newsom's office would steer roughly $800 million in spending over two years on new energy projects that Newsom and lawmakers agreed to in the June budget. At that time, however, they didn’t specify how the funding would be distributed. Besides setting investment guidelines for grants for hydrogen plants and other projects to reduce greenhouse gases at industrial facilities and food processors, the language would also streamline permitting for wind, solar or energy storage facilities above 50 megawatts. It would extend customer incentives to install fuel cells, which convert natural gas, biomethane or hydrogen into electricity. Environmental groups are worried about the storage language, which they say would benefit a controversial proposal in Southern California to tap an aquifer near Joshua Tree National Park. But they're also objecting to the hydrogen language, which they say is too vague, and the general idea of enacting a raft of policy changes in the last days of the legislative session with no public process. 

But as you can anticipate, the State Building and Construction Trades Council has included a requirement that the project developer (of the long-term energy storage) "use or require its contractors to use multicraft project labor agreements, as defined paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 2500 of the Public Contract Code, for the construction and the contracted out maintenance of the project. Those project labor agreements shall conform to the industry standard agreements recently used for private large thermal power plant projects, including separate agreements for high voltage transmission and related work.”

Delta Variant 'Significantly' Slowing Construction Recovery National nonresidential construction spending expanded 0.1 percent in July, a decrease of 4.2 percent from last year at this time, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data published Sept. 1 by the U.S. Census Bureau. While the data suggests that commercial construction spending was effectively flat in July, the numbers are "meaningfully worse than they appear," said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu in a press release. When adjusting for inflation, the volume of construction services delivered by the U.S. commercial contractors actually declined in July, he said. Story

COVID Shutdown Lawsuits Cost California More Than $4M For Settlements The San Francisco Chronicle reports "The state of California has settled at least 10 lawsuits this year related to public health orders during the coronavirus pandemic, agreeing to pay more than $4 million to cover the costs of lawyers who sued over restrictions on religious services, schools, strip clubs and tattoo parlors. The 10 settlements, which total nearly $4.36 million for attorneys’ fees and costs, all name Gov. Gavin Newsom as a defendant and were obtained through a public records request to his office by the First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit organization that promotes free speech and government transparency. As the number of coronavirus cases began to rise in California last year, Newsom established the country’s first statewide shelter-in-place order in March 2020 that shut most activities but provided exceptions for some retailers and other essential services to keep operating. That order paved the way for months of legal battles over which businesses were forced to close, how to reopen schools and whether the governor had the authority to take these steps at all."

Mia Bonta Leads in Special Election East Bay Assembly Race The San Francisco Chronicle reports "Mia Bonta was leading in a special election Tuesday for an East Bay Assembly seat vacated by her husband, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, according to early returns. Bonta, president of the Alameda Unified School District board and CEO of the nonprofit Oakland Promise, received 55 percent of the early vote totals. Her opponent, social justice attorney Janani Ramachandran, received 45 percent and was trailing by roughly 4,500 votes. Every registered voter in the district received a mail-in ballot. Officials from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters said they will next update the vote totals Thursday afternoon. The two candidates were vying to represent the heavily Democratic district that includes San Leandro, Alameda and 80 percent of Oakland. Regardless of who wins, they will help set an all-time record in Sacramento this year: 32.5 percent of the members of the Legislature are women, according to Close the Gap California, which recruits and trains women to run for state office."