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WECA Political Update December 21, 2023

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Last Political Bulletin of 2023

Thanks for reading this mashup of news and views of the political world in California and beyond. I hope readers and those important to you have a calm and enjoyable holiday season; I think in 2025, we will look back and remark, “I miss 2023.” Be well.

Biden Mandates PLAs on Large Federal Contracts

On Monday, the White House announced the implementation of an executive order to require project labor agreements on federal construction jobs above $35 million. Merry Christmas NBTU! You can read the union-drafted Biden talking points in the Dive article.

While PLAs have been used on large-scale federal construction projects for almost a century, including building the Hoover Dam in 1936, they haven’t been used for most high-cost federal construction projects.

The Biden administration said the Department of Energy plans to incorporate PLAs into the $7 billion regional clean hydrogen hubs program announced in October to create a national clean hydrogen network for heavy-duty industries such as transportation.

ABC issued a strong statement opposing the rule here. If you’d like to contact your federal representatives about this EO, you can do so here.

Biden to Apprentices: “You’re Fired”

The Wall Street Journal notes, “The Labor Department used 776 pages to rewrite a two-page 1937 law with the goal of limiting non-union worker training. DOL’s manifest goal is to limit non-union programs that don’t result in more union jobs. The rule would let the department dissolve programs accused by unions of misconduct or found to be non-compliant with minor government regulations and DEI benchmarks.” Story

With a slightly different take, Construction Dive seems to mostly repeat the NBTU, er, I mean Biden Administration talking points. “The rule intends to strengthen labor standards and worker protections as well as better promote apprenticeship pathways, among other things.” Story

Under #carefulwhatyouaskfor, Overtime Law Intended to Help California Farmworkers. New Study Says It Led to Less Money

The Sacramento Bee reports “A California law requiring agricultural employers to pay overtime has led to some farmworkers making less money. That’s according to a new UC Berkeley study, which is the first to explore the effects of the 2016 legislation. The law, Assembly Bill 1066, added agricultural workers in the state to federal overtime rules. They were previously excluded from the rules, which have existed since the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The state’s policy took effect in 2019 and mandated a gradual phase-in of overtime hours based on employer size. Early research by Alexandra E. Hill, an assistant professor of Cooperative Extension at UC Berkeley, indicates that the law has resulted in a negative financial impact for workers. Hill said many farmworkers are not working overtime and their take-home pay has decreased as a result of employers reducing hours. The study estimates about 10% of workers are earning $100 to $200 less on their weekly paychecks. Story


Politico reports, “State Sen. Aisha Wahab is a step closer to facing a recall election following a tumultuous first year in the Legislature that included authoring historic gun legislation and backing a failed effort to ban caste discrimination that drew large protests at the Capitol. A recall petition was certified for circulation Friday by the secretary of state. Organizers have until May 23 to collect 42,802 signatures — 20 percent of the total ballots cast in her 2022 election — to force a recall vote next year in her Bay Area district. A website set up by her opponents criticizes her for not doing enough to address crime and public safety in the district, neglecting constituents, and “flip-flopping” on issues. They cite several pieces of legislation, including a proposal to ban caste discrimination that Newsom vetoed amid strong opposition from Indian Americans. Recall organizer Ritesh Tandon, who has previously run for Congress as a Republican, did not return a message seeking comment. Wahab’s office also did not respond to a request for comment. If the recall effort receives enough valid signatures, election officials will certify the petition by July, and a recall vote will be held later in 2024.

Will Demand for Union Labor Pact Kill $100 Million, 1,000 Job Fresno Project?

The GV Wire writes, “During a presentation to the Fresno Chamber of Commerce this week, Alex Tavlian said Fresno councilmembers Miguel Arias and Luis Chavez opposed a vital development project because developers did not agree to a PLA. Arias and Chavez declined to comment for this story when approached by GV Wire in council chambers on Thursday. Both are running for the same Fresno County Board of Supervisors seat against incumbent Sal Quintero.” Story

California Labor Commissioner Publishes Updated FAQ for California Paid Sick Leave

The Labor Commissioner recently published an updated Frequently Asked Questions page to cover changes made by SB 616.

U.S. Chamber White Paper on "Whole of Government" Union Support The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a White Paper detailing the various elements of the Biden/Harris administration's advocacy for unions. The report examines how President Biden's "whole of government" approach to using the federal government to promote unionization harms workers, employers, and the economy. Read the full report here