Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.

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Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy

Monday, September 18, 2023

Sacramento Supervisor Rich Desmond Grants Construction Unions a No-Bid, Sole-Source Contract for $1.3 Billion of Work at Sacramento International In a victory for union construction workers, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved a plan 3-2 requiring that construction work on the $1.3 billion renovation and expansion of Sacramento International Airport be done by union members.
Desmond replaced Susan Peters on the Board of Supervisors in 2020 – defeating hard-left SMUD Board member Gregg Fishman by 2,100 votes with strong business support who mistakenly saw Desmond as a pragmatic replacement for Peters who would balance the Board of Supervisors from being dominated by the former union attorney Patrick Kennedy and the communist progressive son of former Sacramento Mayor Joe Serna.
Desmond visited WECA’s Mather campus and commented at the meeting that all state-approved apprentices should be able to build at SMF and that benefits should follow the worker. But when the Sacramento Building Trades reminded him of his apparent promises to support the trades intent to monopolize the SMF work, he folded like the cheap tent he is. He refused to direct the airport staff to incorporate fair contracting protections in the union-drafted board resolution that locks out responsible merit shop apprentices, journeypersons, and contractors from these projects. Worse, he rejected suggestions that the negotiated PLA be brought back to the Board, preferring to be done with the union handout with a single vote.
Cindy Nichol, the Sacrament County Department of Airports director, spoke favorably about the PLA to the Board of Supervisors. She said that when construction occurred for the new Terminal B, there had to be separate construction access entrances for union and union construction workers, which added $1 million a year to the construction costs. (Collective gasp!) She neglected to mention the County costs to negotiate and enforce a PLA and the 30% premium the county will pay because of reduced competition.
One of the more telling conversations occurred when Tom Enslow, a union mouthpiece, was asked, “What happens if the unions can't provide the workforce?” Tom, who is not the most practiced public speaker, replied, “We’ll just bring them from other areas of the state or nationwide,” belying the argument the PLA was about local hire.
If you live in Sacramento County and think Desmond was wrong to prostrate himself to the unions, or maybe believe there should be a level playing field for county construction – give him a call; I can't guarantee he will pick up. 916 768 3327

Legislature Approves UI Benefits for Striking Workers A coalition of employers, including WECA, opposed SB 799 (co-authored by Senator Anthony Portantino and Assembly Member Laura Friedman, who are, coincidentally running against each other for the House of Representatives seat being vacant by Adam Schiff – who is running for the US Senate), arguing that it will require employers to subsidize striking workers, even if those workers or labor strikes had nothing to do with the employer. The bill allows striking workers to claim unemployment and will add the cost of those benefits to California’s outstanding loans. If SB 799 had been in effect during the previous twelve months, it would have added approximately $215 million to the UI Fund’s debt. Additionally, it will add approximately $30 million per week if it were in effect now.” Furthermore, SB 799 will also add to the state’s general fund obligation regarding the UI Fund. For example, in 2023-2024, the interest payment is expected to cost the state approximately $300 million – and similar payments will continue until the UI Fund returns to solvency. None of these arguments persuaded the Legislature to reject this spending bill and sent it to Governor Newson, who recently threw cold water on the idea, though he didn’t outright say he would veto it. In an interview with POLITICO, he pointed to a growing deficit in the state unemployment insurance fund. That didn’t stop 27 Democrats in the Senate and 59 Democrats in the Assembly from sending the bill to Newsom. You can read our veto letter here.


Because Electricity Grows on Trees: Local Officials Tell Governor, California Must Ban Gas In New Buildings Twenty-six local government leaders in California — including those from the major cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose — are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to urgently pursue statewide standards requiring new buildings to be all-electric rather than burn fossil fuels on-site for uses such as cooking and space and water heating. Story

According to Politico, Carl DeMaio’s Reform California is looking to flex its muscle in a region (Sandy Ego) where it holds sway with many volunteers. The group announced a new push that targets Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, a Republican turned Democrat from the San Diego area. Reform California wants to direct Republicans and independents to vote for his opponent and help punish Democrats for their votes in Sacramento. Maienschein is eyeing the city attorney’s office, and California politicos are watching closely how groups like Reform play in Dem-on-Dem races. The ultimate place they might have influence is if Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter emerge to a Senate runoff — allowing right-leaning groups to try to play spoiler.

Sick Pay Obligations to Increase SB 616 will increase the three days of paid sick leave currently afforded to employees under existing law to five days; it increases the cap that employers can place on paid sick days from six to 10 days and 48 to 80 hours and increases the number of paid sick days an employee can roll over to the next year from three to five days. It extends procedural and anti-retaliation provisions in existing paid sick leave law to employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement exempted, if they meet specified criteria, from other paid sick leave law provisions. Alas, it was sent to Gov Newson on a party-line vote.

Contractors Will Be Required to Report Their Top Three WC Classification Codes (AB 336) The District Council of Iron Workers of California persuaded the State Legislature (come on, who doesn’t believe a union BA?) to require a contractor licensee, at the time of renewal, to certify on a license renewal form the three workers’ compensation classification codes for which the highest estimated payroll is reported. Supporters generally noted that this bill would help prevent fraud in the workers' compensation system, which was enough to pass the bill. The CSLB reported a one-time cost of approximately $227,500 for a limited-term IT consultant, which is not absorbable in the CSLB’s current resources. The IT changes needed include adding new classification codes to the CSLB’s enterprise licensing system, custom programming to allow online information entry, and updating data to post from CSLB’s system to the licensee’s public data portal. Your license dollars at work.

No More Than One Sub-Contractor from Each Trade Can Be Employed Unless They Employ Workers AB 1204 will prohibit a licensed contractor from subcontracting with two or more contractors in the same classification on the same job site unless the subcontractor has employees who perform the work in the relevant classification. Sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, this bill will prohibit any specialty contractor from using two or more subcontractors in the same license classification for work at the same job site unless the subcontractor has employees. I feel better already. It is waiting for Governor Newsom to return from his race for President.

Contractors Will Be Required to Keep Paper CPRs AB 587 will require any copy of records requested by, and made available for inspection by or furnished to, a Taft-Hartley trust fund or joint labor-management committee to be on forms provided by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or contain the same information as the forms provided by DLSE. Additionally, this bill clarifies that copies of electronic certified payroll records do not satisfy payroll records requests made by Taft-Hartley trust funds and joint labor-management committees. California-Nevada Conference of Operating Engineers, sponsor of the bill, states, "Outside of the traditional requirements contractors must abide by related to maintaining payroll records and allowing access to those records, existing law additionally provides a separate requirement that mandates contractors and subcontractors must also electronically submit Certified Payroll records (e-CPR) directly to the Labor Commissioner at least once every 30 days while work is being performed on the project, and within 30 days after the final day of work performed on a project. Further, SB 954 (Archuleta) [Chapter 824, Statutes of 2022], which was signed into law in 2022, required that the Department of Industrial Relations establish a database of these payroll records that are accessible to both Joint Labor Management Committee and Taft-Hartley Trust Funds. While the electronic submission of these records has streamlined and improved how Joint-Labor Management Committees and Taft-Hartley Trusts access payroll records, these entities will often notice inconsistencies on an e-CPR and still need to request the traditional records of a public works contractor to ensure the inaccuracy they have spotted isn't a violation of labor law. Recently, JLMC's and Taft-Hartley Trusts have noticed an issue whereby they see an error or omission on an e-CPR and make a request to the awarding agency to verify the record, only to be provided a copy of the e-CPR that they already have access to. This misunderstanding of law leads to compliance entities missing out on vital information they have historically been entitled to under existing law. In effort to remedy this issue, [this bill] would clarify that any copies of records made available to a Taft-Hartley Trust Fund or a federally approved Joint Labor-Management Committee be provided in the manner specified in Labor Code Section 1776 (c). The bill would provide further clarity by specifying that copies of electronic certified payroll records shall not satisfy a payroll records request made by either a multi-employer Taft-Hartley trust fund (29 United State Code Section 186(c)(5)) or a joint labor-management committee.” It’s all nonsense but that didn’t stop the California Legislature from approving.