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WECA Political Update May 9, 2024Thursday, May 9, 2024

Unions Want All ETP Money This should come as no shock to any reader, or virtually anyone from the Western Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, that unions desire to leave nothing on the table. A great example is the constant downward floor for PLAs, which are often touted as beneficial for large, complex projects like the Hoover Dam, but now are imposed with thresholds of only $250,000.

Witness what’s going on with the Employment Training Panel (ETP).

The ETP was established approximately 30 years ago to work directly with employers to upskill employees. ETP allocates funding to qualified businesses through an employment training tax of .1% of wages, collected by EDD from businesses, as well as alternative funding intended to support policy initiatives and public sector employers (such as funding from the California Energy Commission under its Clean Transportation Program to provide training in alternative fuels and vehicle technologies). In 2019-20, ETP also administered five pilot programs using alternative funding, including the Clean Transportation Program. Annual employer contributions to the fund are about $250 million.

ETP is governed by eight panel members: Three members are appointed by the Governor. Two are appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly. Two are appointed by the Senate President Pro Tempore. The Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), or his/her designee, serves as ex-officio, voting member. Here are the current members.

Douglas R. Tracy is a Business Manager with SMART (International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers), a union that combines sheet metal workers and transportation workers. Senate Appointee.

Gretchen Newsom is, according to her ETP profile, a “community leader and advocate of working families.” But she is also Political Coordinator for the Ninth District of the IBEW. IBEW’s Ninth District represents workers in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, and northern Idaho, as well as in Guam and Saipan. Assembly Appointee.

Chris Dombrowski is the Chief Deputy Director of Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) and serves as Ex-Officio.

Madison Hull is the Director of Service, District Council 16 International Union of Painters & Allied Trades, is a member of Tradeswomen Inc. and has served as Business Representative, Glaziers LU718 San Francisco, and Communications & Political Director. Senate Appointee.

Rick Smiles is President of Laborers’ Local 89, a position which he still holds today along with proudly serving as a field representative for the Southern California District Council of Laborers. Governor Appointee.

Michael Hill has been Senior Director of Talent and Organization Development at Applied Materials since 2015. He was Director of Learning and Development at Lam Research from 2008 to 2013 and at Spansion from 2005 to 2008. Governor Appointee.

Rebecca Bettencourt Senior Manager of Workforce Development and Corporate Education at E. & J. Gallo Winery since 2011. She was Manager of Training and Call Quality for the California Telephone Access Program at Communication Service for the Deaf from 2009 to 2011. She was Regional Training and Development Manager for Gate Gourmet from 2008 to 2009 and Training, Development and Operational Skills Training Manager for Hilton Hotels from 2000 to 2008. She is Chairperson of ETP and a Governor Appointee.

Jennifer Fothergill is on the Northern California Chapter NECA staff and will be working closely with the Alameda Division members, as well as doing the Business Development/Government Relations for Alameda County. Governor Appointee.

The ETP also funds training for unemployed workers and provides additional incentives to assist small businesses and employers in high unemployment areas of the state and targets employers that are threatened by out-of-state competition or that compete in the global economy and provides funds to offset the cost of training. The ETP requires contractors to notify employee representatives of their desire to participate in a contract. Contractors must send a notice of intent to their respective employee representatives explaining the proposed training program and provide the representatives with an opportunity to participate in development of the ETP contract. In addition, the union(s) must send a union support letter to ETP granting their support for the proposed training program and verify that they were able to participate in the development process. Both the notice of intent and union support letter must be submitted along with the complete ETP application.

The ETP is performance-based and requires employers to provide proof of completed employee training hours, as well as proof that upskilled employees have earned specified wages for specified periods before the employers can be reimbursed. Contract terms last a maximum of two years, and all training must be delivered within 21 months or less. Since its inception, ETP has reimbursed employers over $1 billion for training workers in more than 80,000 businesses.

The ETP is also required to annually update a three-year strategic plan that addresses the demand for trained workers by industry, type of training, and size of employer. Based on the update, ETP identifies priority industry sectors and authorizes related projects to receive 20 percent more funding than standard reimbursement rates and identifies strategies to meet the needs of small businesses, including, but not limited to, those small businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

But, back to the money. Governor Newsom has proposed using $100 million of employer contribution to ETP to pay part of the interest the State owes the Feds for the UI loans made to California to cover the billions the State wasted during COVID by sending UI payments to prisoners and out-of-state scammers. Employers are responsible for the principal, but the interest owed is an obligation of the State’s general fund. So, Newsom, being the clever guy he is, figured out a way to saddle employers with both the principal AND interest.

Cue the California Labor Federation Western States Council of Sheet Metal Workers, who have co-sponsored SB 1321 by State Senator Aisha Wahab. You may recall Wahab is also the author of SB 984, which mandates the use of PLAs on State construction.

SB 1321 directs ETP to give funding priority to projects that:

·        Develop workers with skills necessary to work with new technologies or methods;

·        Develop high road jobs for workers, with demonstrated wage progression;

·        Meet the standards established by DAS for high quality training programs;

·        Provide support for training needs and gaps, or existing programs, and not replace, parallel, supplant, compete with, or duplicate existing apprenticeship programs that are registered with DAS and serve workers in a region.

·        Promote hiring, training, and advancement of disadvantaged, marginalized, and underrepresented workers. This may include participation in an apprenticeship program that is approved by DAS and subject to the State of California Plan for Equal Opportunity in Apprenticeship, or by using other strategies and partnerships to achieve equity goals.

It also updates minimum standards for ETP proposal consideration to include:

·        The amount of fringe benefits to be paid to trainees;

·        Proof of workers’ compensation insurance; and

·        A plan to recruit, hire, and advance workers from disadvantaged, marginalized, or underrepresented communities, including through participation in an apprenticeship program approved by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards and subject to the State of California Plan for Equal Opportunity in Apprenticeship or other strategies and partnerships.

Does any of that cause readers to suspect that construction unions want more ETP money? It has caused a diverse group of business groups to worry they may lose much of the training money they receive.

WECA-ATC has obtained grants for several years, which have been used to enhance apprenticeship curricula and training and is part of a broad business coalition pushing back. But several WECA members have also been ETP recipients. WECA encourages any WECA member who has received ETP funding in the past to reach out to their State Senator to express their concern. Contact WECA Government Relations staff for help with messaging.

California Pay Data Reporting Compliance Deadline California’s pay data reporting deadline was May 8, 2024. Any employer with 100 or more employees, with at least one worker in California, was required to comply with the state’s updated reporting requirements. How and if employers use, supply, or otherwise hire contractors will separately affect how those employers are covered under this law. In other words, this may apply to a wide variety of employers, regardless of their location. Story

Fired Up About a Labor Leader’s Comments As she stood before a crowd of county employees, Brigette Browning, leader of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, made several remarks about San Diego County Chair Nora Vargas. “I want to talk about our chair, the chingona, who says she’s here for workers, but she’s making backroom deals with [Jim] Desmond and [Joel] Anderson, that doesn’t seem like someone that’s supporting workers to me,” Browning said. Labor leaders are upset that their pick for the county’s next chief administration officer, Cindy Chavez, didn’t get an interview for the job. She had been offered the job last year, but the county rescinded the offer after former County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced his abrupt resignation. They held a rally outside the county building last week, and that’s when Browning made her comments. She started a chant using a term in Spanish that’s slang for several things, but that in that context could translate to “you have to be kidding me.” La Prensa San Diego reported that she went on to use another slang, and mockingly refer to Nora as a chingona. That’s a term used to describe a strong and independent Latina woman. Now, Latino community and nonprofit leaders are demanding an apology. They felt that Browning’s use of the word was to belittle and discriminate against Nora. And one group is asking for her to resign. [VOSD]

Hobbs Signs Historic Water Rights Agreement with Colorado River Indian Tribes First People along the Colorado River now have rights to their own water. It’s a historic agreement and a big win for the Colorado River Indian Tribes and their community. The agreement gives tribes the right to lease, exchange, store, or conserve their portion of Colorado River Water. The new legislation was signed by Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, and CRIT tribal chair Amelia Flores. WECA’s Bob Bartlett applauded the historic agreement. More

Cowboy Hovde Arizona residents may have seen a peculiar face on their airwaves recently: Eric Hovde, a GOP Senate candidate running for office in … Wisconsin. The Senate hopeful remains CEO and chair of Sunwest Bank. And despite carpetbagger allegations, Sunwest ads starring Hovde are continuing to air out west in Arizona as recently as this month, per analytics reviewed by Inside Congress. In one, Hovde is wearing a cowboy hat and riding a horse outside an Old-West-style saloon as patrons raise a ruckus over their bank services (words can’t really do this justice, so please watch for yourself). While it’s not unusual for non-incumbent political candidates to continue working while running for office, it’s a tricky line for Hovde. He’s already faced massive backlash from Democrats who argue he primarily lived in California prior to running for office. Ads starring Hovde continuing to run in another state—out west, no less—contribute more fodder to Democrats’ case. Sunwest has locations in Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, and Utah, as per its website. [Politico]

It Pays to Be Green Many of the leaders of major environmental and conservation groups take home lucrative annual compensation packages, according to tax documents nonprofits must release publicly. The heads of influential groups, including the World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, and Nature Conservancy, are among the top-paid leaders in the environmental movement, according to an E&E News analysis of 29 groups’ most recent tax filings.

1. Carter Roberts, President and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund Roberts, who has led the massive international conservation group since 2005, remains one of the world’s top-paid environmental leaders. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s tax records, his base pay in 2022 was $904,841, and his total reported compensation that year was $1,204,775.

2. Fred Krupp, president, Environmental Defense Fund The group's records show that Krupp, EDF’s leader for nearly four decades, took home base pay of $669,771 in 2021. Krupp’s total compensation that year was $922,022.

3. Jennifer Morris, CEO of the Nature Conservancy Morris started as the conservation group’s CEO in May 2020. According to the tax filing, she earned $732,138 in base pay during her first full year on the job in 2021, for a total compensation of $758,013.

4. Elizabeth Gray, CEO of the National Audubon Society Gray was promoted in November 2021 to the group’s permanent CEO. Her base pay that year was $462,069; her total compensation was $705,458. The tax filing says her pay that year included a contractual retention and sign-on bonus. She also received a discretionary bonus of $46,514 approved by the board of directors. (Gray’s predecessor, David Yarnold, left in May 2021. His total compensation that year was $1,276,173, including severance and other benefits.)

5. Mitchell Bernard, Interim President, Natural Resources Defense Council

NRDC’s then-Executive Director Bernard stepped in to lead the group in early 2021 when Gina McCarthy left her post as president and CEO to join the Biden White House. Bernard held the role through August of that year and is now NRDC’s chief counsel. His base pay in 2021 was $479,498, the records show. His total compensation that year was $705,195.

6. Janis Searles Jones, CEO, Ocean Conservancy

Jones has led the ocean conservation group since 2017. Her base compensation in 2022 was $440,860, the latest filing shows. Her total compensation that year was $692,836.

7. Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO, Defenders of Wildlife

Clark, who has led her conservation group since 2011, said she plans to step down this year. In 2022, Clark’s base pay was $531,907, according to the group’s most recent tax filing. Her total compensation was $616,137.

8. Andrew Sharpless, CEO, Oceana

Sharpless has served as the international conservation group’s president since 2003, and recently announced plans to retire. His base pay in 2022 was $499,936, and his total compensation that year was $546,078. Jim Simon, Oceana’s longtime president, will take over as the organization’s CEO on July 1.

9. Adam Putnam, CEO, Ducks Unlimited

The former Florida Republican congressman has led the conservation group since 2019. His base pay was $339,805 in 2021, and his total compensation that year was $538,303.

10. Abbie Dillen, president, Earthjustice

Dillen took over as the green group’s leader in 2018. She earned base pay of $473,920 in 2021, and a total compensation package of $536,931.

11. Theresa Pierno, president and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association

Pierno has been with the conservation group since 2004 and took the helm in 2015. Her base pay in 2021 was $417,327, and her total compensation was $536,031, the tax filing shows.

13. Diane Regas, president and CEO, Trust for Public Land

Regas, who joined the conservation group in 2018, earned base pay of $499,283 in 2021, the tax records show. Her total compensation that year: $526,879.

14. Santiago Gowland, CEO, Rainforest Alliance

Gowland joined the global conservation nonprofit as CEO in May 2021. During his first full year on the job, his base pay in 2022 was $430,794. His total compensation that year was $502,967.

15. Christopher Wood, president and CEO, Trout Unlimited

Wood has led the fisheries conservation organization since 2010. His base pay in 2021 was $361,632, and his total compensation that year was $441,847, according to the organization’s most recent 990.

16. Jamie Williams, president, the Wilderness Society

Williams took the helm of the conservation group in 2012 and announced that he plans to step down later this year. Williams’ base pay in 2021 was $395,476, and his total compensation that year was $415,400.

17. Collin O’Mara, president, National Wildlife Federation

O’Mara, who’s running to be governor of Delaware, took over as president of his conservation group in 2014. His base pay in 2021 was $302,096, and his total compensation that year was $385,173, according to the most recent tax record.

18. Kieran Suckling, president, Center for Biological Diversity

Suckling, who co-founded his environmental group in 1989, earned $332,979 in base pay in 2022, the tax filings show. His total compensation that year was $384,131, according to the most recent 990. Suckling’s pay that year included a one-time buyout of unused sabbatical that was available to staff, according to the group.

19. Ken Cook, president, Environmental Working Group

Cook, president and co-founder of the environmental group, earned base pay in 2022 of $312,714. His total compensation that year: $357,378.

20. Gene Karpinski, president, League of Conservation Voters

Karpinski earned $201,923 in base pay in 2022 and $221,244 in total compensation, from LCV. He earned additional pay as president of the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, an affiliate of LCV: $$108,728 in base pay and $119,131 in total compensation. His total compensation from the two groups: $340,375.

21. Ebony Twilley Martin, co-executive director, Greenpeace USA

Twilley Martin was appointed as Greenpeace USA’s co-executive director in September 2021. Twilley Martin is now the group’s sole executive director. In 2022, her base pay was $147,165 from Greenpeace Inc. and her compensation was $165,384 from that group. Martin also received pay that year from Greenpeace Fund of $147,168, with total compensation of $165,348. Her total combined compensation from the groups: $330,732.

22. Annie Marie Leonard, co-executive director, Greenpeace USA

Leonard served as co-executive director at Greenpeace USA from 2014 until 2023. She earned base pay of $147,035 in 2022 from Greenpeace Inc. and total compensation from that group of $164,413. Leonard’s base pay from Greenpeace Fund was $147,035, and her total compensation was $164,413. Leonard’s total combined compensation that year was $328,826.

23. Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Fosburgh led the conservation group for 13 years until he resigned late last year. His base pay in 2022 was $237,115, and his total compensation that year was $315,829, according to the organization’s most recent 990.

24. Manish Bapna, CEO, World Resources Institute

Bapna, who joined NRDC as president and CEO in August 2021, spent part of that year as interim president and CEO at World Resources Institute. His base compensation that year was $257,607, and his total compensation that year was $290,466, WRI’s tax records show.

25. Johanna Chao Kreilick, president, Union of Concerned Scientists

Kreilick joined UCS in May 2021. Her base pay for the remainder of that calendar year was $265,284, and her total compensation was $278,357, the records show. Kreilick resigned earlier this year and was replaced by acting President Kim Waddell.

26. May Boeve, executive director, 350.org

Boeve, who has spent 13 years as 350.org’s executive director, announced last week that she’s stepping down and that the organization is looking for a new leader to take over later this year. Boeve’s base pay in 2021 was $151,422, and her total compensation that year was $178,205, according to the group’s most recent 990.

27. Erich Pica, president, Friends of the Earth

Pica has led his environmental organization since 2009. His base pay in 2021 was $168,750. His total compensation that year: $177,744, according to the organization’s most recent 990.

28. Wendy Wendlandt, president, Environment America

Wendlandt, whose group is part of the Public Interest Network, received $126,073 in salary in 2021 and total compensation of $136,870 from the network, according to the latest tax filings.

29. Dan Chu, interim executive director, Sierra Club

Chu, the executive director of the Sierra Club Foundation, stepped in as Sierra Club’s interim executive director when Michael Brune left the post in 2021. Chu was acting executive director until September 3, 2022, according to the group’s tax filing. His base pay from Sierra Club was $86,435 in 2022, the tax filing shows, and his total compensation that year was $90,919.

30. Varshini Prakash, executive director, Sunrise Movement

Prakash—who stepped down last year as the Sunrise Movement’s executive director—was replaced by Aru Shiney-Ajay. In 2022, Prakash’s base pay from the Sunrise Movement was $24,779, and her total compensation from that group was $27,013. Additionally, Prakash’s base pay was $57,817 from the affiliated Sunrise Movement Education Fund, and her total compensation from that group was $63,030. Prakash’s combined compensation from those two groups in 2022 was $90,043.

Dreyers Ice Cream Employees Reject Unionization In two separate National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) elections, nearly 2,000 miles apart, employees of Dreyers Ice Cream, Inc. have rejected unionization by the United Steelworkers and the Teamsters, respectively.

Last week, more than 60 percent of nearly 400 employees employed by Dreyers Ice Cream in Fort Wayne, Indiana voted to reject representation by the United Steelworkers. Story

Utah Republicans Choose At Utah’s nominating convention—where attendees tend to lean very conservative—the assembled Republicans voted to back challengers to Gov. Spencer Cox (Rep. Phil Lyman) and Reps. Blake Moore (Paul Miller received 54.9% of the vote over Moore’s 45.1%) and Celeste Maloy (Colby Jenkins), The Salt Lake Tribune’s Bryan Schott and Emily Anderson Stern report. The incumbents will all still appear on the primary ballot, and Cox is still favored to win once voting is opened to the whole state. But Maloy came very close to missing the ballot entirely, and she could face a stiff challenge from Colby Jenkins. The convention also tapped Trent Staggs for Senate (Romney’s seat, sob). Staggs is endorsed by Trump, Tuberville, Kari Lake, Charlie Kirk, Matt Gaetz, Vivek Ramaswamy, and a laundry list of “other assorted folk.” Trump posted, “Trent Staggs is 100% MAGA, and is running to fill The Mitt Romney, a Total Loser, Seat as the next Senator from the Great State of Utah!”

Gavin Goes to the Vatican — Gov. Gavin Newsom will be spreading the gospel of climate resilience mid-May at the Vatican Climate Summit, along with Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and other local leaders from around the world.

The summit will be the first Vatican climate meeting to bring together experts, policymakers and scientists along with subnational political leaders and communities experiencing the worst effects of climate change, according to Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and a council member of Pope Francis’ Pontifical Academy of Science, who is co-organizing the summit.

“California is an obvious choice [to present] in that California is a leader in both research, in climate actions cutting down emissions and adapting, because we have lost a lot of our forest to fires, floods, droughts, etc.,” said Ramanathan.

Newsom’s office confirmed that the governor, a Catholic, is scheduled to meet with the pope. The governor has sought to expand California’s climate work with international partners in recent months; his office said this will be an opportunity to reach a whole population he otherwise wouldn’t have.


Correction to April 25, 2024 newsletter: We regret that we misidentified Richard Markuson's title in a photo caption. Richard Markuson now serves WECA in the role of Lobbyist. Rex Hime is WECA's Government Relations Director. We apologize for any confusion.

WECA Political Update April 25, 2024Thursday, April 25, 2024

Left to right: Richard Markuson (Lobbyist); Ian Vander Linden (KS Telecom CEO and WECA Board Member), and KS Telecom employees attend recent Senate Governmental Organization Committee and Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee hearings in Sacramento.

Let’s Study PLAs Democrats and quisling Republican Senator Scott Wilk joined Senator Aisha Wahab on her quest to impose PLA mandates on all state construction above $35 million. In back-to-back hearings in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee and Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee, Wilk joined his Democrat colleagues in advancing Wahab’s SB 984. Wilk’s own noteworthy legislation to help reduce overcrowding at animal shelters across the state by expanding access to low and no-cost spay and neuter services passed out of the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee this week.

What was interesting about the hearing was the participation of new PLA opponents. WECA was joined by the Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California Chapter, Associated Builders and Contractors of California, Associated General Contractors of California, Associated General Contractors-San Diego Chapter, Associated Roofing Contractors, Burr Plumbing and Pumping Inc., California Chamber of Commerce, California Highway Construction Group, Inc., Carter/Kelly Incorporated, Casey Construction, Inc., Construction Employers' Association, Diede Construction, Inc., Don Celillo Electric, Electrical & Automation Solutions, LLC, Electrical Services Company, Haggerty Construction, Housing Contractors of California, Imp Electrical & Automation Solutions, LLC, J.I. Garcia Construction, Inc., Modesto Executive Electric, Inc., Robert Colburn Electric, Inc., Stephens Construction, Inc., and W.E. Lyons Construction.

More significantly, the Carpenters Union opposed SB 984. Danny Curtin, the director for the California Conference of Carpenters since 2001, was one of two lead witnesses in the Labor hearing. He noted that PLAs conflicted with their master labor agreements and lacked contractor participation in negotiating terms and conditions. Unfortunately, this didn’t dissuade any of the committee from voting to send the bill along to a hearing in Senate Appropriations and eventually to the floor.

WECA member KS Telecom showed up for the merit shop community in opposition. KS Telecom’s CEO (and WECA Board Member) Ian Vander Linden shared opposition to the bill with some apprentices and employees. While the morning started with a smile, being the only contractor with employees in the room and the bill getting out of committee was frustrating. Ian shared, “This devastating bill should have had a substantial number of merit shop contractors and their employees filling this room, with more overflowing. Getting involved in defending our businesses and employees politically may seem unnerving, but it is beyond necessary.” Thank you to the KS Telecom team for your leadership.

California’s New Workplace Violence Prevention Plan and Training Requirements Take Effect on July 1, 2024; How to Get Ready Employers must implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan (WVPP) and provide employee training on the WVPP by July 1, 2024. The WVPP requirement (under California Labor Code Section 6401.9), augments the existing obligation for California employers to create and maintain an injury and illness prevention plan and is intended to combat incidents of workplace violence, which is the second leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States, according to OSHA. The new compliance requirements are described, along with steps employers can take to get ready. Story

“Walkaround” Rules Coming On May 31st, Fed-OSHA’s rules regarding employee representation during OSHA inspections will go into effect for most of the country. The so-called “walkaround” rule will ultimately come to California. Fed-OSHA says a regulatory change is to ensure “necessary information about worksite conditions and hazards.”

One attorney representing employers calls it a “thank you” to labor unions. But, he says, that’s not what worries him. Eric Conn of Conn Maciel Carey opines that whether Fed-OSHA intends it to apply to purely safety and health issues, the unintended consequences could be troublesome.

The regulatory change clarifies that a representative could be either an employee of the employer or a third party and that a third-party representative may “have a variety of skills, knowledge, or experience that could aid the OSHA inspection.” However, representatives have not been limited to those with such skills.

Currently, OSHA rules state that during a physical inspection of a workplace, representatives of both the employer and employees shall have the opportunity to accompany the compliance safety and health officer on the walk-through. However, under the rule, the employee representative must be an employee, with an exception for a third party when the inspector deems it necessary. Examples are supposed to include safety engineers and industrial hygienists.

However, in 2017, a federal district court ruled that such third parties are not consistent with the regulation, 29 CFR 1903(8)(c). At the same time, the court said that OSHA’s interpretation that third parties could be third-party employee representatives was “persuasive and valid.”

OSHA says the revision retains the CSHO’s authority to determine whether such an individual is “reasonably necessary,” and they can deny the right of accompaniment to individuals “whose conduct interferes with a fair and orderly inspection.”

Helen Cleary, director of the Phylmar Regulatory Roundtable OSH Forum, says the organization has expressed concern that “allowing any person authorized by an employee to accompany the walkaround would have unintended security and safety implications. We believe the new language expands the scope, and walkaround inspections will be impacted in new ways.”

Others argue that an outsider gaining knowledge could compromise not only physical security but also the security of intellectual property, proprietary processes, and legal rights.

Will this be a big deal for California? “I think potentially yes, but perhaps not for the reasons people think,” Conn tells Cal-OSHA Reporter. The unintended consequences, he says, are twofold. “The one that has me up at night is the plaintiff’s attorney or expert,” Conn says. “You could very easily imagine a situation where there’s a serious incident, even a fatality, and family members reach out to a coworker who recommends an attorney.”

“They would seem to meet the criteria that OSHA has set up be an acceptable representative. Now you would have plaintiff’s attorneys and experts foregoing the rules of civil procedure and getting access to workplaces, witnesses, and records, and the accident site, and physical evidence, [with] access to information they would never get under the rules of procedure.”

“The other scenario is a disgruntled former employee who submits a complaint, legitimate or not, then reaches out to current employees to convince them to suggest him or her to represent them in the walkaround. The person could be trying to cause trouble,” Conn suggests, “steal proprietary information, convince former coworkers to lie, or even commit an act of [sabotage or] violence. Those are the kinds of things I am very concerned about,” Conn says.

The Department of Industrial Relations tells Cal-OSHA Reporter that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health intends to adopt the federal rule, although it does not have a timeline for adoption. “It will not be submitted” for a Horcher (verbatim) adoption, DIR says. “We can say that our proposal will be at least as effective as the federal rule.”

The fact that the state adoption will not be done under the Horcher process suggests there could be advisory talks with the regulated community. DIR says, “Cal/OSHA is currently reviewing and will make a determination on how to move forward.”

Conn urges DOSH to limit the state regulation to “individuals with a technical credential,” such as an IH or safety engineer.

He also predicts that “there will be challenges” to the federal regulation in court. “There are some serious defects with this rule.” He says it contradicts the National Labor Relations Act, which defines how elected representatives in a workplace are chosen. “It’s by majority vote,” Conn says.

“The real core issue here is property owners’ rights to exclude unwelcome third parties from their workplace. OSHA has a right to come in when they’ve made a proper showing under the Fourth Amendment,” but the regulatory change could “force us to accept these unwelcome visitors.” [Cal-OSHA Reporter]

I hope you’re sitting down; Biden Scores Major Union Backing as Its Leaders Attack Trump Joe Biden landed a significant union endorsement from North America’s Building Trades Unions, whose leaders say the president has his infrastructure bill largely to thank for it. In making one of their earliest-ever presidential endorsements, NABTU leaders are kickstarting an eight-figure organizing program to try to deliver their 250,000 members in the battlegrounds of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin for Biden. The Teamsters, whose endorsement is being pursued by both Biden and Donald Trump, are members of NABTU but abstained from Tuesday’s board vote, according to people briefed on the proceedings. They will endorse after the Republican and Democratic conventions. Story

How Biden’s Apprenticeship Push Could Affect Builders President Joe Biden’s recent executive action to bolster registered apprenticeships as a pathway to high-paying jobs—including union jobs—has many implications for contractors that perform federally funded work. The March executive action—which is not legislation—directs federal agencies to reduce barriers and create pathways into federal employment through registered apprenticeships and expands the use of registered apprenticeships through grants and contracts. It also re-establishes within the federal government labor-management forums tools used by union members and management to jointly improve their workplaces. In addition, the Department of Labor is considering a rule change that would revise regulations for registered apprenticeships by updating worker protections and better-establishing pipelines to registered apprenticeship programs. Although the Biden administration’s efforts could spell good news for a labor-strapped industry like construction, both fans and critics of these moves also see them as a push to support unions, a key part of Biden’s platform. Story

High-Priced Work Construction is underway for expensive “affordable” housing in San Diego. Voice of San Diego reported that the estimated cost per unit for the Cuatro development in City Heights is $842,000! Story

Have you ever been stopped by law enforcement and asked, “Do you know how fast you were driving?” Under amendments adopted this week, a bill to physically limit passenger vehicles from speeding would now only require a passive warning system. Sen. Scott Wiener's SB 961, introduced in January, would have mandated "speed limiters" on new passenger cars, trucks, and buses starting in 2027 that restricted them from going more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. The San Francisco Democrat amended it ahead of its first hearing Tuesday to require just visual and audio signals that alert drivers when they've exceeded the speed threshold. The mandate would only apply to half of new vehicles starting in 2029 and all new vehicles by 2032. "We heard feedback from colleagues that people were not comfortable with an active physical barrier to going above a certain speed," Wiener said in the hearing. "People might need to go at a higher speed. We listened, we heard, worked with the committee, and changed it." The bill passed the Senate Transportation Committee 8-4 along party lines. [Politico]

Arizona Legislature Returns to Capitol with Big To-do List With regular committee hearings now wrapped up for the legislative session, the state Legislature returned to the Capitol under a one-day-a-week schedule. The House and Senate will conduct floor sessions to determine the fate of bills that have made their way through the committee process in both chambers, deciding whether to send them to the governor to be signed or vetoed. Story

DOL Announces New FLSA Overtime Salary Threshold On Tuesday, April 23, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a rule to significantly increase the salary level needed to qualify for the FLSA's overtime exemptions applicable to executive, administrative and professional employees to $844 per week ($43,888 annualized). The rule will also increase the total compensation needed to qualify for exemption under the test for highly compensated employees to $132,964 per year. These figures will be effective on July 1, 2024 but will increase again, effective January 1, 2025. On that date, the rule will increase the salary basis threshold to $1,128 per week ($58,656 annualized), and the threshold for exemption for highly compensated employees to $151,164 per year. Under the rule, these salary levels will be subject to automatic increases every three years. While legal challenges to the new rule are expected, employers should not wait for those challenges to be resolved before assessing the rule's impact on their operations and considering potential changes. In this webinar, we will review the new rule, discuss the expected legal challenges and provide recommendations for employers who may be impacted. [Littler]

Maybe Losing an Election Isn't So Bad Some readers may recall Mike Allen. Mike was a member of the Santa Rosa Planning Commission and District Director for then-State Senator Pat Wiggins. Allen was elected to succeed Noreen Evans as the representative of the 7th Assembly district, winning 63.8% of the vote in the general election. He served as Assistant Majority Floor Leader. The statewide redistricting in 2011 significantly changed the 7th District, and the redrawn district excluded Allen's residence. Allen moved to San Rafael in Marin County to run for election in the open 10th Assembly district in 2012 but lost to San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine. Marc, an affable liberal Democrat, served 10 years in the Assembly before running unsuccessfully in the June 2021 Democratic Statewide Primary for California Insurance Commissioner, gaining just 18% of the votes and losing to the incumbent Ricardo Lara with 35.9% of the votes. Lara went on to win reelection in the November 8, 2022 General Election against Republican Candidate Robert Howell (who?).

But what happened to Mike? Former Speaker John Perez appointed him to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board in 2013. Governor Gavin Newsom just reappointed Mike to an additional term. The UIAB salary is $181,156. A state Legislator? $128,215 (plus per-diem of $214 per day).

The Board is a popular purgatory for former legislators; three of the current four members are Legislators with no apparent interest in doing anything other than feeding on your tax dollars.

Win for Property Owners The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) client George Sheetz that the government couldn’t force property owners to pay exorbitant development fees as a condition for approving building permits. This win is PLF’s 18th out of the 20 cases they’ve litigated at the Supreme Court and their tenth since 2018. El Dorado County, where George built his home, passed a law requiring homebuilders to pay thousands of dollars in “traffic impact fees” if they wanted a building permit. George, who just wanted to install a manufactured home on his property, was stuck with a $23,420 bill. George sued the county, with the help of former PLF attorney Paul Beard. PLF joined Paul as co-counsel to litigate George’s case at the Supreme Court. They argued legislatures aren’t exempt from Supreme Court precedent protecting property rights—and in the decision, the Court agreed. “Nothing in constitutional text, history, or precedent supports exempting legislatures from ordinary takings rules,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett writes in the decision. “The Constitution’s text does not limit the Takings Clause to a particular branch of government.” This victory protects all property owners across the country. To get a sense of George’s spirit, check out his Fox News interview from January.











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

Rex Hime, WECA Lobbyist

Rex Hime

“A fair, competitive, and open construction market is imperative to creating jobs and achieving critical infrastructure and electrification upgrades in a fiscally responsible and timely manner. WECA’s Government Relations works with all levels of government to level the competitive playing field so merit shop electrical contractors can focus more on their bottom line.”

Government Relations Director

Political Advocacy and Government Affairs

WECA focuses on the needs of electrical, low voltage, and solar contractors; apprentices, trainees, and journey workers in the Western United States. We are proud to represent thousands of electricians and technicians and hundreds of contractors. Our members believe 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 the public and private marketplace.

WECA’s governmental affairs staff works hard to protect the rights of merit shop business owners and their employees throughout the West. Still, our efforts can only succeed if those in the merit shop community are involved.

Concerns about climate change are rapidly changing the electrical marketplace with new state and Federal emphasis and funding for EV charging, battery energy storage systems, and rapid replacement of carbon-based fuels with electric alternatives. WECA monitors these areas and more to ensure that WECA members are ready to prosper in the growing arena.

Routine activities of the GA staff include:

· Monitoring all Federal and State Legislative and regulatory proposals for beneficial and detrimental changes

· Regular interaction with other business and construction groups in California, Arizona, Utah, 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 construction and business groups such as state and local chambers of commerce, NFIB, CBIA, California Business Roundtable, CFEC, ABC, AGC, and ASCA

· Routinely monitors more than 305 local agencies, including Cities, Counties, School Districts, and other special districts.

· Evaluates state-wide ballot measures and candidates and recommend 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 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


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WECA Political Advocacy