Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.

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LegislationFriday, September 21, 2018
Governor Brown again vetoes bill to ban per-signature payments on ballot petitions
Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Tuesday by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-San Jose, that would have prohibited signature gatherers from being paid for every signature they collect on petitions for an initiative, referendum or recall. The bill would have allowed signature gatherers to be paid by the hour or daily. Low said paying by the signature creates an incentive to mislead voters or forge signatures. Brown said "As I stated in my veto message to an almost identical bill--SB 168 of 2011 'per-signature payment is often the most cost-effective method for collecting the hundreds of thousands of signatures needed to qualify a ballot measure. Eliminating this option will drive up the cost of circulation ballot measures, thereby further favoring the wealthiest interests.' While I understand the potential abuses of the current per-signature payment system, my perspective has not changed since 2011. I cannot sign this bill." Bravo.
Brown Signs Bill to Protect Union Construction Contractors.
 AB 1654 (Rubio) prohibits union construction workers from using the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) to obtain redress for wage and hour violations. The sponsor? California Conference of Carpenters--a labor union representing workers! Now why would a group who represents workers sponsor a bill that denies these same workers an ability to sue their employer for wage and hour violations? They claim "while PAGA is a powerful tool for unrepresented workers because it allows direct litigation by workers, it has resulted in unintended consequences that actually undermine workers most important workplace protection, a Collective Bargaining Agreement." Hmmm, it couldn't also be used to persuade a contractor to recognize could it?
Vote "NO" on Sacramento Measure U--Don't Double the Tax!
Opinion: Richard MarkusonFriday, September 21, 2018

Richard Markuson

Is Modular Construction the Future in California
I attended the Off-Site Construction Expo last week at the beautiful, sunny (and at the time) peaceful UC Berkeley. Sponsored by the Modular Building Institute the expo featured a number of presentations from industry representatives working in or using modular construction techniques for both permanent and temporary structures.
As the New York Times put it in a June 2018 article "California is in the middle of an affordable-housing crisis that cities across the state are struggling to solve." Rick Holliday, a longtime Bay Area real estate developer, thinks one answer lies in an old shipyard in Vallejo, about 40 minutes northeast of San Francisco. Here, in a football-field-sized warehouse where workers used to make submarines, Mr. Holliday recently opened Factory OS, a factory that manufactures homes. In one end go wood, pipes, tile, sinks and toilets; out another come individual apartments that can be trucked to a construction site and bolted together in months." Holliday was a speaker at the Expo and one of the core elements in Factory OS's business plan is the use of a CBA with the Northern California Carpenters to provide a one-stop shop for construction workers--in all crafts.
This effort by the Carpenters has not gone unnoticed by the other trades. At a Bay area forum late last year, Jay Bradshaw from Northern California Regional Carpenters Regional Council observed "growth in modular is a promising opportunity for better and different workforce training and employment for our members." The Carpenter's Union is one of the few unions that has directly engaged with modular development.
And City officials in the Bay area envision modular as one approach to solving the astronomical price of new-home construction (approaching $900 per sqft). As reported in the SF Chronicle, "San Francisco officials continue to scout locations for a factory that can churn out modular housing units, Mayor London Breed is lining up the city to be the first customer. Breed is expected to announce Monday that the city is prepared to spend $100 million on hundreds of modular apartments that would grow the city's stock of affordable housing. Who will run the modular housing factory won't be known for some time, though the leading plan is to seek a private operator on city-owned or city-leased property. And even after a site is selected, it will take years to get a factory up and running."
But as the Chronicle pointed out, "Because a substantial portion of the work needed to build modular apartments happens in factories, not on construction sites, the advent of more modular housing in San Francisco initially met stiff resistance from the city's powerful building trades unions, who feared their members would lose out on job opportunities. But modular supporters cleared a big hurdle in January, when Breed, then serving as acting mayor, announced that the unions were on board and willing to partner with the city in the plan to bring the factory to San Francisco. In return for the unions' support, the city provided assurances that workers would participate in planning, developing and, eventually, operating the factory. 'If we decided to do this on our own, without (the building trades), most likely it would fail because they wouldn't be included,' Breed said. 'So instead of bringing them along on the back end, we're bringing them along on the front end to get their support and work with them so we do it right.'" Breed did not clarify what the deal entailed, but it is easy to surmise that the one-stop shop idea won't fly with IBEW and UA.
While it is too early to say how popular modular construction will be across the industry--you can be assured that the State Building and Construction Trades Council and their constituents will seek to control the market - which makes it hard to imagine a future with lower cost construction from modular--when the building trades control the industry.
California State Capitol

Merit Shop Advocacy for California

Richard Markuson, WECA Lobbyist

Richard Markuson

"Merit shop electrical contractors throughout California are under pressure from a political system that limits their ability to compete for and win public works contracts. Through our coordinated efforts to further the interests of the merit shop community, we will make doing business in California fair and profitable again."

WECA Government Affairs

Political Advocacy and Government Affairs

WECA is the only organization in California that focuses exclusively on the needs of electrical contractors and their employees. We are proud to represent thousands of electricians and hundreds of contractors. Our members believe that fair and open competition is the key to a robust and growing economy. Our members embrace the idea that political action is not simply prudent, but essential to preserving and enhancing their ability to pursue business opportunities in both the public and private marketplace.

The WECA governmental affairs staff works hard to protect the rights of merit shop business owners and their employees throughout California, but our efforts cannot succeed unless those in the merit shop community get involved.

Routine activities of the GA staff includes:

  • Monitoring all State Legislative and Regulatory proposals for beneficial and detrimental changes
  • Regular interaction with other business and construction groups in California and nationwide
  • Maintenance of a regular presence in Washington DC through membership in the US Chamber of Commerce and trips to Capitol Hill to lobby on Federal initiatives
  • Maintaining close working relationships with other merit shop groups such as CFEC, ABC chapters, AGC, ASCA, and Calpasc
  • Routinely monitors more than 305 local agencies including Cities, Counties, School Districts and other Special Districts
  • Evaluates state-wide ballot measures and candidates and recommends support for those causes and candidates that support WECA’s core values
  • Encourages appointment of state and local officials who will approach their assignments without prejudice
  • This website is designed to both educate our members and to empower them to have the greatest possible impact when it comes to effecting political change on the local, state and federal levels. Check out the latest political news and action alerts, learn more about the WECA Political Action Committee (WECA-PAC), and take a moment to visit the partner organizations we work with.

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WECA Political Advocacy