Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.

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Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy

Friday, August 4, 2023

WECA California Member Contractors: Join WECA and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of California (CAPHCC) at the California State Capitol in Sacramento on August 16 for a joint legislative day. Spend the morning learning about relevant industry happenings at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. The day will begin by hobnobbing with political pundits, lawyers, and soothsayers before segueing to the 'swing space' of the Capitol (the temporary home of California state legislators while the aging Capitol Annex is being replaced) to visit with your Senator and Assemblymember and share your thoughts on some relevant bills awaiting final action. WECA and CAPHCC believe that constituent advocacy is an essential part of citizenship. Registration here.

Biden's Clean Energy Goals Have a Union Problem If you’ve ever listened to President Joe Biden talk about fighting climate change, chances are you’ve heard him connect it to “good-paying” union jobs. It’s a well-worn line that has echoed across the Biden administration and into the districts that Cabinet heads fanned out across in recent weeks. “A lot of my friends in organized labor know when I think climate, I think jobs,” Biden declared last week in Philadelphia. But the relationship between Biden and big labor groups seems to be on the rocks — and it could get more contentious as several major workers’ strikes loom, writes Politico. The tensions underscore the challenge of ensuring that clean energy jobs are also the well-paying union jobs Biden promised. The United Auto Workers — whose contract with the Detroit Three automakers ends in September — is, for now, withholding support from the president. The union has accused the administration of doling out billions of dollars in subsidies for electric vehicles without demanding higher wages and other protections. It has also lambasted the administration for steering billions of dollars in clean energy money to right-to-work states like Kentucky and Tennessee. Former President Donald Trump is vowing to undo Biden’s electric vehicle measures as he tries for the UAW endorsement. Political matters: The potential loss of a powerful ally — particularly in the critical battlefield of Michigan — has the Biden administration and its allies concerned. Biden’s senior staff has told allies “that the rhetoric from the new UAW leadership is concerning, this is a problem, and we’ve got to figure this out together,” said one person familiar with the administration’s thinking. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told Holly and Zack that if Democrats don’t get this right, it could both hurt them politically and threaten the transition from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles. Many federal grants and loans from Biden’s climate law are heading to the largely nonunionized battery industry and right-to-work states, which bar unions from collecting mandatory dues. That could set a lower floor for worker standards in a sector crucial to the president’s agenda, say progressives and organized labor. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) said the Biden administration should steer such grants and loans to more union-friendly locations. “It’s a matter of targeting in the places where we have historically good jobs working in the auto industry,” he said. “If you come to Michigan, for example, is a different question than going to a place that does not have a history of labor rights.”
Amendment to California Employment Regulation May Impact Background Screeners On July 24, the California Office of Administrative Law approved the Civil Rights Council’s (the Council) proposed amendment to California’s Employment Regulations Relating to Criminal History, which are set to become effective on October 1, 2023. Among other changes, the amendment modifies the existing regulations regarding employers’ investigation of a job applicant’s criminal history. Notably, the amendment expands the definition of “employer” under those regulations in such a way that could potentially implicate a background screener conducting a background check on behalf of an employer. Story
Who’s Leading the Pack For Local 2024 Campaign Battles? Follow the money. Some of the Valley’s most competitive local elections next March already feature hotly-contested fundraising battles.
Fresno Mayor: Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer is gearing up for his reelection campaign with a fundraising report of $292,812 for the first half of 2023. Dyer boasts a total of $403,558.98 on hand.
Fresno County Supervisor District 2: Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau is fending off a two-front challenge from Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld and Fresno County Assessor-Recorder Paul Dictos.
Fresno County Supervisor District 3: While Fresno County Supervisor Sal Quintero is facing two fellow Democratic challengers trying to move down the street from Fresno City Hall, Quintero holds a major lead in fundraising.
Is Gavin Newsom Running for President? His Fundraising Strategy Signals White House Aspirations. Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking fundraising steps often used by potential presidential candidates, setting up multiple committees that in their first three months have raised and spent millions of dollars. The three Newsom-affiliated committees are a political action committee, which limits contributions to $5,000 a year and can donate to individual candidates; a SuperPAC, which can raise unlimited amounts of cash but is restricted from promoting a specific candidate, and a joint fundraising committee, which functions like a bank, mostly collecting and distributing funds to the other groups. Newsom has repeatedly denied any interest in running for the nation’s highest office next year. But whether President Joe Biden wins or loses, there will be no Democratic incumbent in 2028. As governor of the nation’s largest state, the big winner of two elections and a recall, Newsom would be well-positioned for a White House run. Story
Back From the Dead: California Legislature Resurrects the Industrial Welfare Commission On July 10, 2023, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 102. Buried in this seemingly innocuous appropriations bill is a provision that could mean more burdensome wage and hour regulations for employers in the future. AB 102 appropriates $3M for the currently defunct Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”). The IWC was originally a five-member commission within the Department of Industrial Relations tasked with regulating wages, hours, and the working conditions of California laborers. When active, the IWC issued “Wage Orders” for specific industries or occupations. Most California businesses and employers are intimately familiar with the requirements of their industries governing Wage Order, as each order sets forth regulations, including those about minimum wage, overtime, exempt employee classifications, and meal and rest periods. Nearly two decades ago, the California legislature defunded the IWC. Though remaining in effect, the Wage Orders issued in 2001 have been unchanged, except for the increasing minimum wage. With AB 102, the IWC will be resurrected, and the commission has been instructed to adopt new Wage Orders. Story
California Employers Are Not Liable for The Spread Of COVID-19 To Household Members The California Supreme Court held this month that employers do not owe a duty of care under California law to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to employees’ household members. Kuciemba v. Victory Woodworks, Inc., S274191 (July 6, 2023). The decision resolves an open question for tort litigation in this jurisdiction. In 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California determined that an employer’s obligation to provide a safe workplace does not extend to non-employees who contract a virus from the workplace premises. The plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which then posed two certified questions to the California Supreme Court concerning the scope of an employers’ liability when an employee’s spouse is injured by transmission of COVID-19. Story