Job Numbers Released As released on Friday, job openings were 10.8 million at the end of January. While down 410,000 from December, openings are still extremely high. There are 5.1 million more job openings than unemployed workers. Job openings are not dropping as fast as many anticipated because businesses still badly need many workers and because the economy is not cooling as quickly as expected. For more snapshots of the U.S. economy from the Economic Policy Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, click here.
The Race is On for Arizona Senate Nothing shakes up local politics like an open congressional seat. The dominos are already beginning to fall after Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego’s decision to run for U.S. Senate in 2024. Progressive would-be candidates are sizing up the 3rd Congressional District, which favors Democrats by 24 points in terms of voter registration. Noteworthy politicos considering running for Rep. Gallego’s seat include:
- Phoenix Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari
- Phoenix City Councilmember Laura Pastor
- Phoenix City Councilmember Betty Guardado
- State Sen. Raquel Terán (D-Phoenix)
Terán’s decision is already being felt at the Capitol. Terán resigned as Senate Minority Leader recently to focus on her potential congressional run. With Sen. Rosanna Gabaldón (D-Green Valley) also stepping down from leadership for personal reasons, Senate Democrats elected new leadership.
The new Democrat Senate leadership team is:
- Sen. Mitzi Epstein (D-Tempe) - Senate Minority Leader
- Sen. Juan Mendez (D-Tempe) - Senate Minority Assistant Leader
- Sen. Eva Burch (D-Mesa) - Senate Minority Whip
- Sen. Lela Alston (D-Phoenix) will remain as Senate minority caucus chair
Coastal Cash Dash President Joe Biden came to California to raise campaign money. It’s the latest sign that the 80-year-old president is readying another run for the White House. Biden’s trip west took him to Rancho Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, where he reportedly put all the California cash on “red.” (Bartlett/Markuson gambling strategy with 50% success rate)
AGC Economist Dismisses a 2023 Recession Strong job openings, wage growth, and robust investment into equipment, IT, and overall plant construction indicate the U.S. economy should avoid a recession this year, said Ken Simonson, chief economist for Associated General Contractors of America, during an AGC webinar on the construction outlook. “I remain optimistic that we’re not going to have one,” said Simonson, referring to a recession. “There’s just a lot of spending power on the consumer and business sides. State and local governments at all levels also have much money to spend. Tax revenues have held up in a way that you don’t see during a recessionary period.” Story
Labor Department Enters $20M Partnership to Open Doors to Women, Minorities in Trades The Department of Labor has entered a $20 million agreement with TradesFutures — a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit — to advance equitable opportunities in the construction industry, according to a press release shared with Construction Dive. The nonprofit will partner with the DOL, the National Urban League, and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) to develop a gateway for women, people of color, veterans, Native Americans, and other underrepresented groups to access apprenticeship programs. The project will initially explore programs in Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee before expanding to other states. Story
California Continues to Lead the Nation – in Energy Costs The added costs of California’s policies and regulations continue to keep prices at the highest or near the highest among the contiguous states across all energy sources.
California Requires Bereavement Leave California’s new bereavement leave law, which became effective beginning January 1, 2023, requires most employers to allow their employees to take up to five days of leave upon the death of certain family members. Although vetoes had stymied previous bills providing for bereavement leave, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the new legislation — Assembly Bill (“AB”) 1949 — into law as an “important step” to ensure that low-wage workers “can access the time off they’ve earned while still providing for their family.” The new law makes California one of the few states requiring employers to provide bereavement leave. Story
The Basics of Community Solar Projects and Their Application to Multifamily Projects In recent years, the share of energy produced in the United States through solar photovoltaic (PV) technology has increased exponentially. In 2008, installed solar capacity totaled a mere 0.34 gigawatts, but that figure has now reached 134 gigawatts. One type of solar facility that has contributed to this dramatic growth is community solar projects (CSPs). The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory defines a community solar project as a “distributed solar energy deployment model that allows customers to buy or lease part of a larger, off-site shared PV system.” The owner or developer of a CSP receives payment from customers “subscribing” to the CSP in exchange for certain economic, environmental, and social benefits. Story
Opinion: Utah Sen. Mitt Romney Has a Plan That Is Pro-Business, And Pro-Climate Romney recognizes that climate action and business do not need to be enemies on the national stage. Story
In a possibly related story, Utah’s Largest Coal Company Gives up on Coal Canyon Fuel Co. LLC will relinquish two mining leases and apply the social cost of carbon in the environmental analysis of a third lease as part of a settlement agreement reached last week with environmental groups and the federal government. The agreement comes as the Biden administration weighs a hike in the social cost of carbon — a metric for calculating the monetary damages caused by greenhouse gas pollution — and amid continued debate over fossil fuel production on federal land. Story
Could “No Labels” make a big difference in the 2024 election? The Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes announced that the national group No Labels submitted enough signatures to qualify in the state as a recognized political party - and just in time for the 2024 cycle. In a state where ultra-close statewide races have become the norm, politicos wonder if the No Label-ers could swing key contests next year for U.S. Senate, the White House, and more. Opinions differ. Secretary Fontes, a Democrat, believes No Labels candidates will bleed the GOP of support from traditional Republicans who’ve become alienated by MAGA messaging. Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts isn’t so sure, arguing instead that No Labels will benefit Donald Trump (or any other GOP nominee) by playing the “spoiler” in next year’s race for Arizona’s presidential electoral votes. Nationally, Democrat think tank Third Way is sounding the alarm and warned that President Joe Biden’s narrow 2020 victory was powered, in part, by his support from independent and third-party voters. New Labels threatens to steal that support, Third Way writes, and could be determinative in swing states where “even a paltry third-party performance would put 79 Biden electoral votes at risk.” Perhaps the most intriguing possibility for No Labels involves Democrat-turned-Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Adopting the political party as her new home would not only mean far fewer signatures for her to gather in qualifying for the 2024 ballot, but it also could provide her access to No Labels’ deep pockets, data modeling, and other party infrastructure. These are the kind of resources she gave up when she left the Democratic party in late 2022 - and could make her more formidable in a potential three-way General Election showdown against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego and a GOP nominee. [Veridus LLC]
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Governor Newsom is skipping the annual State of the State address and going on the road, writes POLITICO. Fresh off an easy reelection, Newsom has decided to forego a formal speech at the state Capitol and will instead lay out his agenda with a round-the-state series of events starting today in Sacramento. “He’s not interested in the pomp of the State of the State speech,” said political adviser Sean Clegg. “He wants to get a spotlight on these issues he’s going to talk about rather than getting up there and doing the laundry list.” Newsom will shine that spotlight as he rides political momentum into his second term. He overwhelmingly defeated an attempted recall in 2021 and then cruised to victory last November. Republicans who argue the governor has failed to allay pressing issues like homelessness and poverty have little power to impede his agenda in a Democrat-dominated Legislature.
Su for Labor? A potential promotion for former California labor chief Julie Su got even more contentious, as labor advocates squared off with conservative critics. Republicans and business advocates gathered in front of the state Capitol to blast Su’s nomination as U.S. Secretary of Labor over a laundry list of concerns. Those include support of a fast food labor regulation law that the industry is trying to kill in the 2024 election, a contract worker reclassification law that Uber, Lyft and others have so far blocked at the ballot box and in the courts, and a pandemic unemployment meltdown that delayed worker benefits while the state lost as much as $30 billion to fraud.
- Kevin Kiley, a new member of Congress and former Assemblymember from Rocklin: “I am urging President Biden in the strongest terms to immediately withdraw Julie Su’s nomination. To say that Su failed in her previous role… is an extreme understatement.”
- Tom Manzo, founder of the California Business and Industrial Alliance: “California is “over-regulating small, medium, large-sized businesses who cannot survive in this climate. And the last thing we need to do is export her policies to the United States.”
Backing Su are major labor unions, including SEIU and the California Labor Federation. They released a joint statement calling on the U.S. Senate to move ahead with her confirmation hearing after Biden nominated her last month. Supporters tout Su’s record as a civil rights attorney and policy efforts like ramping up California wage theft investigations.
- The union statement: “Su is universally respected for her competence and dedication. She has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to upholding workers’ rights and has worked collaboratively with high-road employers to support efforts to improve job quality.”
Language Guides for Contractors The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) has begun publishing Spanish-language versions of its licensing exam study guides. All study guides can be downloaded for free on the Examination Study Guides page of the CSLB website. As of March 15, 2023, the following exams have study guides also available in Spanish:
- B-2 – Residential Remodeling Contractor
- C-2 – Insulation and Acoustical
- C-4 – Boiler Hot Water Heating and Steam Fitting
- C-5 – Framing and Rough Carpentry
- C-9 – Drywall
- C-22 – Asbestos Abatement
- C-29 – Masonry
- C-31 – Construction Zone Traffic Control
- C-32 – Parking and Highway Improvement
- C-33 – Painting and Decorating
- C-34 – Pipeline
- C-35 – Lathing and Plastering
- C-36 – Plumbing
- C-38 – Refrigeration
- C-39 – Roofing
- C-42 – Sanitation Systems
- C-43 – Sheet Metal
- C-45 – Sign
The Spanish study guides for the remaining exams will be released over the next few weeks. In addition, CSLB is in the process of getting 10 exams translated into Spanish, including the Law and Business; B – General Building; C-8 – Concrete; C-9 – Drywall; C-15 – Flooring and Floor Covering; C-27 – Landscaping; C-33 – Painting and Decorating; C-36 – Plumbing; C-39 – Roofing, and C-54 – Ceramic and Mosaic Tile. This process is expected to be completed later this year. For these exams, Spanish-speaking applicants will take the exam in Spanish rather than using a CSLB-approved translator. Spanish-speaking applicants can still use a translator for the remaining exams that are not being translated.
WECA Phoenix Gets a New Councilperson Unofficial results show two City Council candidates endorsed by Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego as the winners in Tuesday’s runoff election. The election was required by law because no candidate received a majority of votes last November. The race for Phoenix City Council District 8 is historic. Kesha Hodge Washington, an attorney from Laveen, is on track to become the first African American woman to serve on the Phoenix City Council. “I find it exciting because I do understand the value of representation at the table, but I’m also committed to ensuring that I’m representing the entirety of the district. I don’t want any demographic to feel that I am not representing them,” she said. Story
Arizona Housing Bill Rejected by State Senate Over Affordability, Local Control Worries The Arizona State Senate on Monday failed to pass a bill that would have mandated local zoning reforms to encourage the development of lower-cost starter homes. Almost half of Senate Republicans and nearly all Democrats voted against Senate Bill 117 in a 20-9 vote. According to local news reports, those voting against it largely opposed the measure over concerns that it would excessively limit local control and lacked affordable housing requirements. Gov. Katie Hobbs-D, also opposed the bill, telling reporters in February that she didn’t support “a one-size-fits-all approach” to address the state’s growing affordable housing and homelessness crises. Story
Because California Apparently Has Enough Water, the Biggest Dam Removal Project in US History is Set to Start in California, Oregon Preconstruction work is underway on the largest dam removal and river restoration project in U.S. history. The $450 million project will take out four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Oregon and California to restore habitat and passage for migrating fish. Omaha, Nebraska-based Kiewit is the prime contractor, while Knight Piesold, headquartered in South Africa, is the civil prime design partner on the project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the project in November 2022, and it is set to wrap up in 2024. Story
EVITP Requirement in Oregon On the heels of the Biden Administration’s refusal to adopt a nationwide mandate for EVITP certification for all level two and above EV charger installations, Oregon State Senators Wagner, Lieber, and Representative Fahey have introduced SB 582 to impose a state requirement like AB 841 in California. Portland General Electric, Climate Solutions, and the Sierra Club all testified in favor of the bill last week.
And Finally, a Bill to Streamline Water Storage Projects in California AB 66 would require the Natural Resources Agency, and each department, board, conservancy, and commission within the agency, to approve the necessary permits for specified projects that meet certain employment conditions within 180 days from receiving a permit application and would deem those permits approved if approval does not occur within this time period. What employment conditions, you ask? Most readers will not be surprised to read that to qualify for this permitting process, the project must be subject to a PLA. What you might be surprised about is who the authors of the bill are.
· Assembly Member Devon Mathis (R-Porterville)
· Assembly Member Juan Alanis (R-Modesto)
· Assembly Member Philip Chen (R-Yorba Linda)
· Assembly Member Diane Dixon (R-Newport Beach)
· Assembly Member Heath Flora (R-Modesto), [Modesto has two Assembly members?]
· Assembly Member James Gallagher (R-Yuba City)
· Assembly Member Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale)
· Assembly Member Low (D-Campbell), [Really, only one Democrat?]
· Assembly Member Marie Waldron (R- Valley Center)
· Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee)
None of the Republicans would explain why they were supporting a PLA bill.
California State Bat We mentioned recently that California is poised to have a state mushroom. Existing law establishes the state flag and the state’s emblems, including, among other things, the California redwood as the official state tree and the California gray whale as the official state marine mammal. SB 732 (Menjivar-D), when enacted, would establish the pallid bat (antrozous pallidus) as the official state bat!
Admittedly the pallid bat sounds pretty cool (and is cute):
· Bats eat many pest species, including those contributing to health risks, such as mosquitoes, wasps, and flies. A female bat nursing her young will eat more than two-thirds of her body weight in insects and arthropods every night.
· Bats provide more than $1,000,000,000 worth of pest control to California agriculture.
· Bats eat bark beetles and wood borers, reducing wildfire risk in California forests.
· Bats can live up to 40 years and typically raise just one pup a year. This low birth rate makes their populations particularly vulnerable to disruptions like humans encroaching on their habitat and climate change.
· The pallid bat is as diverse as Californians – pallid bats live in California’s deserts, oak woodlands, coastal redwood forests, and high up into the pine forests of the Sierra Nevada mountains. They live in social colonies and have a rich language of calls to communicate with one another. The food they eat and the way they catch it varies both within and between different communities of pallid bats around the state.
· Naming antrozous pallidus as the official state bat of California will help promote the appreciation, study, and protection of bats in this state.
Thanks, Senator Menjivar!
Amazon Closes, Cancels More Warehouses as Cost-Cutting Persists Amazon has canceled, closed, or delayed 99 facilities, impacting nearly 32.3 million square feet of active or planned ground-level space in 30 states, Marc Wulfraat, president and founder of MWPVL International, said in a Feb. 24 email. In September, the firm recorded 66 impacted facilities totaling 24.6 million square feet of ground-level space. Story
CHIPS Act Funding to Open as US Plans Semiconductor Manufacturing Clusters The United States will open its first round of applications for CHIPS and Science Act funding for manufacturing facilities next week, Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo said during a speech at Georgetown University on Thursday. The pot of $39 billion in federal funding is meant to incentivize semiconductor manufacturers to build sites in the United States, Raimondo said. More funding will be released for supply chain and R&D operations in the coming months. The Wall Street Journal and others have noticed “Chip makers will also have to pay construction workers prevailing wages set by unions and will be “strongly encouraged” — i.e., required — to use project labor agreements (PLAs), which let unions dictate pay, benefits and work rules for all workers. States restricting PLAs may have to change their laws if they want to benefit from the federal largesse.” Story I know you were as shocked as I am about that. “Any applicant that does not commit to using labor agreements will need to submit a construction workforce continuity plan to demonstrate exactly how it would ensure projects stay on schedule. Funding recipients that request more than $150 million in direct funding also must submit plans to provide construction and facility workers with access to affordable, reliable and high-quality childcare,” Commerce officials announced.
Rooftop Solar Advocates Request New CPUC Hearing Rooftop solar advocates opposed to the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) recent decision to cut the amount new solar users will be compensated for supplying power to the grid are petitioning for a chance to be reheard. Following months of hearings in 2022 that included hours of public comment mostly against the CPUC’s decision, attorneys for two groups filed requests with the CPUC for a chance to argue again. Tri-Valley advocates of rooftop solar agreed that the CPUC should revisit its decision. In a 25-page application for rehearing filed Jan. 17, Michael Boyd, president of Californians for Renewable Energy (CARE), accuses California Gov. Gavin Newsom of conspiring with CPUC board members to violate state and federal antitrust measures that benefit the state’s three largest public utilities, including Pacific Gas & Electric, which serves Northern California. Story
Sacramento Bee Notices State Building and Construction Trades Council Stymies Construction of Housing “The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, backed by the California Labor Federation, insists that lawmakers require developers to use a ‘skilled and trained’ workforce made up of largely union workers. On the other side, the California Conference of Carpenters supports a prevailing wage requirement — typically the union rate — rather than limiting which workers builders can hire.” Story
Californian Julie Su Tapped to be Labor Secretary President Joe Biden introduced Julie Su as his pick to succeed Marty Walsh as labor secretary when Walsh leaves the administration later this month. Biden lavished praise on Su – Walsh’s deputy – who will serve as acting secretary once he goes to lead the NHL Players' Association, for her legal career representing low-wage and immigrant workers and her years of experience overseeing labor laws in California. The president also said Su, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, exemplifies the American dream and that “She’s committed to making sure that dream is in the reach of every American.” Su could face a familiar gig worker fight if confirmed as labor secretary, said the San Francisco Chronicle: Republicans previously opposed Su’s confirmation as deputy secretary of the Labor Department in 2021. She was confirmed on a party-line vote, with 50 Democrats voting in favor and 47 Republicans opposing. During that confirmation battle, Senate Republicans repeatedly raised the multi-billion-dollar scandal that engulfed California’s Employment Development Department, in which the state improperly paid jobless benefits to fraudsters.
Fall Back No More? Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) reintroduced his bill to make daylight saving time permanent, which snuck through the Senate in a surprise last year but died in the House. Rubio has a bipartisan group of 11 co-sponsors in the upper chamber, and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) is introducing a House version of the bill. Will it meet a different fate there with Republicans in charge this year? PSA: You still have nine days of early-morning sunshine — clocks spring ahead at 2 a.m. on March 12. Story Last year, the Washington Post (Bob Bartlett's newspaper of choice) said about Rubio’s previous effort, “Sleep experts widely agree with the Senate that the country should abandon its twice-yearly seasonal time changes. But they disagree on one key point: which time system should be permanent. Unlike the Senate, many sleep experts believe the country should adopt year-round standard time.” Story
News from our Friends at Coalition for a Democratic Workforce (CDW)
PRO Act Reintroduced On February 28, Congressional Democrats reintroduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (HR 20, Senate companion does not yet have a bill number). The bill is a wish list of radical labor policies that would infringe on workers' and employers’ rights, diminish opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners, and devastate the economy. CDW’s statement on the news can be read here. CDW will send a letter to all members of Congress urging them to oppose the legislation.
Senate HELP Planning Hearing on Union Organizing The Senate HELP Committee is planning to hold a hearing on “defending the right of workers to organize unions free from illegal corporate union-busting” on March 8. It will likely circle around the PRO Act, so CDW will send a letter to the committee on the bill's dangers and highlight past letters sent to the committee.
Sen. Sanders to Subpoena Starbucks CEO On March 1, Sen. Sanders announced the HELP Committee would hold a hearing to authorize the issuance of a subpoena to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, requiring him to come before the committee and provide testimony on the company’s tactics against union organizing in their stores. Sanders also seeks seemingly blanket authorization for committee investigations into “violations of federal labor law by major corporations.”
CDW Sends Letter to Congress Calling for Aggressive Oversight over NLRB, General Counsel On February 27, CDW sent a letter to both House and Senate labor committees urging them to conduct extensive oversight over the Board and General Counsel Abruzzo for their actions “promoting changes that are contrary to the bedrock principles of our democracy, like free speech, open debate, the right to cast a vote privately, and the promise of a workplace free from harassment.” The letter can be found here.
Board Issues Decision on Severance Agreements On February 21, the Board issued its decision in McLaren Macomb, establishing that employers cannot offer employees severance agreements that require employees to waive their rights under the NLRA. The decision states that the “mere proffer” of a severance agreement that conditions receipt of benefits on the “forfeiture of statutory rights” violates workers’ collective bargaining rights. The decision overturned two Trump-era decisions, Baylor University and IGT, which broadly permitted employers to include confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions in severance agreements. The Board did not request amicus briefs in this case, despite the decision overturning precedent and making a significant change to policy. More on this policy here.
Who’s Running for POTUS? Five noteworthy presidential candidates have declared for 2024 – nine fewer than this point in the 2020 cycle. Last week, Ballotpedia added two noteworthy 2024 presidential candidates to the list: entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy (R), and author and 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson (D). The total tally currently stands at five noteworthy 2024 presidential candidates. Ramaswamy joins former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (R), former President Donald Trump (R), and former Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R) in the Republican primary. Williamson is the first Democratic candidate to have declared a campaign for the nomination. President Joe Biden (D) has not officially announced whether he intends to run for a second term.
At this point in the 2020 cycle, 14 noteworthy candidates had announced their campaigns:
· Jan. 20, 2017: Donald Trump (R)
· Aug. 10, 2017: John Delaney (D)
· Nov. 6, 2017: Andrew Yang (D)
· Jan. 1, 2019: Tulsi Gabbard (D)
· Jan. 12, 2019: Julián Castro (D)
· Jan. 15, 2019: Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
· Jan. 21, 2019: Kamala Harris (D)
· Jan. 23, 2019: Pete Buttigieg (D)
· Jan. 28, 2019: Marianne Williamson (D)
· Feb. 1, 2019: Cory Booker (D)
· Feb. 9, 2019: Elizabeth Warren (D)
· Feb. 12, 2019: Amy Klobuchar (D)
· Feb. 19, 2019: Bernie Sanders (I)
· March 1, 2019: Jay Inslee (D)
Biden, the eventual Democratic nominee and supposed winner of the 2020 presidential election, announced his candidacy on April 25, 2019. In the 2016 election cycle, no noteworthy candidates had launched their campaigns as of March 1, 2015. The first announcement came on March 23 from Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Hillary Clinton (D), the eventual Democratic nominee, announced her campaign on April 12, 2015. Trump, the eventual Republican nominee, announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015.