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Thursday, November 9, 2023   WECA Political Update November 9, 2023

U.S. Chamber Releases 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.

Newsom Requires Diversity Reporting, But Not For Himself

Coming soon to California: a diversity reporting mandate for venture capital firms. Not coming soon to California: a diversity reporting mandate for Gov. Gavin Newsom.

As the bill signing period wrapped up earlier this month, Newsom approved a measure that will force venture capital firms operating in California to collect and disclose demographic data about the founders of the companies they invest in — while on the very same day, he vetoed for the third time a similar transparency requirement for his own gubernatorial appointments.

Senate Bill 54 by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat, was among nearly 900 measures that Newsom signed into law this year. It represents an effort to boost lagging venture capital investments in businesses founded by women, Latino and Black entrepreneurs.

Under the law, venture capital firms must annually survey the founding teams of the companies they invested in during the year for information such as gender identity, race, ethnicity and disability status, as well as whether they are LGBTQ+, military veterans or California residents. Aggregated data, along with how much money was invested in those businesses, will be reported to the state starting March 1, 2025.

The National Venture Capital Association opposed the bill, arguing it would “produce misleading and counterproductive data that would hurt the cause of diversity” because founders from diverse backgrounds would be more likely to participate in the voluntary surveys, exaggerating their representation in startup investments.

Newsom identified his own issues with “problematic provisions,” “unrealistic timelines” and the cost to the state of administering the program — some of which he promised to address in cleanup language in the next budget — but ultimately signed the measure.

·        Newsom, in his signing statement: “This bill resonates deeply with my commitment to advance equity and provide for greater economic empowerment of historically underrepresented communities.”

The governor looked less favorably on SB 702 by Sen. Monique Limón, a Santa Barbara Democrat who has spent the past three years trying to pass a law documenting the diversity of gubernatorial appointments. Newsom again rejected her latest effort, which would have required the governor’s office, starting in 2026, to annually publish aggregate demographic information of appointees to state boards and commissions in the previous year, including their ethnicity, gender, disability status, region, party affiliation and veteran status.

In his veto message, Newsom noted that the data would be voluntarily self-reported and argued that it would therefore “not necessarily accurately reflect the diversity of appointees.” Limón expressed frustration in a statement to CalMatters that her proposal was in line with the goals and data collection methods of the venture capital firm reporting mandate that Newsom signed.

·        Limón: “We believe that this Administration has taken strides to diversify our statewide appointees, but more needs to be done to ensure we have mechanisms in place long after this Administration is gone.” 

The governor’s office did not respond to repeated questions from CalMatters about why Newsom supported a diversity reporting requirement for venture capital firms but not for himself, why he signed that bill in spite of the concerns he identified, and why he thought that self-reported data was only a problem for the gubernatorial appointments proposal.

·        Newsom spokesperson Omar Rodriguez, in an email: “Thanks for reaching out. The messages for SB 54 and SB 702 speak for themselves here. Will let you know if we have anything further to add.”

This story first appeared in CalMatters and is reprinted with permission.


Labor-Backed Coalition Springs Up to Fight PG&E On Rates A new labor-backed coalition led by one of Pacific Gas and Electric’s most raucous critics is fighting the powerful utility (and its primary union) over its customers’ rising bills. The group, called FAIR California, officially launched its first action, protesting PG&E’s request for a 26 percent rate hike, scheduled for a vote at the Public Utilities Commission. It’s led by Sam Liccardo, the former San Jose mayor who once advocated for transferring ownership of PG&E to its customers from investors. Among the coalition’s members is the California Alliance for Jobs, which represents the Northern California District Council of Laborers, the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 3. The group also includes the AARP, the Housing Action Coalition, the Latino Business Foundation in Silicon Valley and local chambers of commerce. A key piece of PG&E’s rate hike request is its plan to spend $5.9 billion to bury 2,000 miles of electrical distribution lines to try to reduce wildfire risks. The utility’s lines have sparked major, deadly wildfires in recent years, contributing to its second bankruptcy filing in 2019.

An op-ed Liccardo published Monday in McClatchy’s California newspapers gives a flavor of his style. He accused PG&E of prioritizing its shareholders over ratepayers with excessive spending on TV ads, executive pay and lobbying, saying “PG&E executives continue to fiddle while California burns.”

Hunter Stern, an assistant business manager with IBEW 1245, which represents PG&E electrical workers, said the union was discouraging others from joining the group.

“We are aware they are recruiting people and asking for money. 1245 is urging any labor organization to think twice about joining an organization run by an individual with his past,” said Stern, referencing Liccardo.


NLRB Issues Joint Employer Final Rule

Last month, the Board issued its Final Rule addressing the Standard for Determining Joint-Employer (JE) Status under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The 229-page rule restores the deeply flawed standard first announced during the Obama administration in its 2015 Browning-Ferris (BFI) decision and expands potential liability for employers. During the Trump administration, the NLRB reversed the BFI standard via a final rule, requiring a putative joint employer to “possess and exercise…substantial direct and immediate control” over essential terms and conditions of employment to determine that status. Today’s action rescinds the Trump board’s rule and “makes extreme and troubling changes to Board law,” as Member Marvin Kaplan states in his dissent.

Under the new JE standard, an entity may be considered a joint employer of a group of employees if each entity has an employment relationship with the employees and they share or codetermine one or more of the employees’ essential terms and conditions of employment, which are defined exclusively as: (1) wages, benefits, and other compensation; (2) hours of work and scheduling; (3) the assignment of duties to be performed; (4) the supervision of the performance of duties; (5) work rules and directions governing the manner, means, and methods of the performance of duties and the grounds for discipline; (6) the tenure of employment, including hiring and discharge; and (7) working conditions related to the safety and health of employees.

In contrast to the 2020 final rule, the 2023 rule considers the alleged joint employers’ authority to control essential terms and conditions of employment, whether or not such control is exercised (i.e., potential control), and without regard to whether any such exercise of control is direct or indirect. Notably, the rule makes either unexercised or indirect control independently sufficient to determine joint employer status, which goes beyond the BFI standard. The new JE rule further eliminates the second step of BFI’s joint-employer standard, which required proof that a putative joint employer “possesses sufficient control over employees’ essential terms and conditions of employment to permit meaningful collective bargaining.” The ultimate effect of the rule announced today will make it far easier for the NLRB to declare that joint employment status exists in commonplace business relationships.

The NLRB issued a fact sheet on the new JE rule, which is available here.


Utah Union Participation Utah has one of the lowest union participation rates in the country—3.9 percent in 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Beyond Utah, despite union favorability on the rise, the unionization rate hit a record low of 10.1 percent in 2022, down from 20.1 percent in 1983, the first year the BLS collected data. For union advocates, reversing that trend could be a long process. Story


Elections Matter Politico writes, “Weeks of chaos in the House seem to have taken a toll on Rep. David Valadao’s reelection chances. Cook Political Report, the nonpartisan forecaster led by Dave Wasserman, changed its rating for CA-22 recently, moving it from a leans-Republican district to a toss-up. ‘Valadao’s votes for Jordan and Johnson for speaker in a Biden +13 district are a sign he’s still looking over his right shoulder after last year’s close call.’ Valadao barely made it out of the primaries last year, nearly losing to pro-Trump veteran Chris Mathys, who is running again. He then squeezed out a narrow victory over Democrat Rudy Salas, who is also running again in hopes of a rematch.”


New California Employment Laws Have Arrived Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 890 bills from the 2023 legislative session. Several of these bills are employment-related and have far-reaching implications for employers (and their HR teams tasked with administering changes). The story includes many of the critical employment-related laws enacted in this session. These laws become effective January 1, 2024, but employers should review their policies and practices now to be sure they are prepared to address these changes. Story and Story


EEO-1 Filing Period Now Open; Reports Due by December 5, 2023 After multiple delays, on October 31, 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the opening of the 2022 EEO-1 data collection portal. All employers with 100 or more employees, federal government contractors and subcontractors with at least 50 employees, and a federal government contract of $50,000 or more must file their EEO-1 reports by December 5, 2023. The EEOC “strongly encourages eligible filers to begin the filing process as soon as possible.” Story


California’s Next US Senator Could Be from … Maryland For more than a decade, California Senate hopeful Rep. Adam Schiff has claimed his primary residence is a 3,420 square-foot home he owns in Maryland, according to a CNN review of mortgage records. At the same time, Schiff has for years taken a homeowner’s tax exemption on a much smaller 650-square-foot condo he owns in Burbank, California, also claiming that home as his primary residence for a $7,000 reduction off the one percent property tax, amounting to a roughly $70 in annual savings. He did not take an exemption on his home in Maryland. Schiff, his wife, and two teenage children must be minimalists – living together in 650 square feet. But this would be consistent – Sen. Laphonza Butler, who was appointed to the open seat left vacant by Dianne Feinstein after her death – also lives in Maryland. How does that old saying go? My butt may live in Maryland, but my heart resides in California. Story

Speaking of which, Schiff and opponent Katie Porter (who lives in a UC subsidized home in Irvine) are in nearly a dead heat in California’s U.S. Senate race, well-positioned to move ahead to a runoff, a new poll shows. The two well-funded House Democrats have been pacing the field since the beginning of the year. Other candidates, including fellow Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee and Republican former baseball star Steve Garvey, have so far not shown an ability to make the race more broadly competitive. Story


AZ Gov. Edits Tax Rebate Letters After Legal Threat Bob Bartlett’s favorite governor, Katie Hobbs, conceded to remove the website from future letters that go out to Arizonans who are eligible for an up to $750 tax rebate created in this year's state budget. Her spokesperson maintained they complied with the law, who aimed at GOP lawmakers' priorities. Story


Leave for you, and you…Not to be “outdone” by candidate Schiff’s bill to give striking workers taxpayer subsidies for refusing to work, California Rep. Barbara Lee introduced a bill to give workers smoke leave during wildfires! A bill introduced in Congress by Lee, D-Oakland, would require employers to protect employees from the bad air caused by wildfires. This includes providing up to 12 weeks of unpaid annual leave — and sometimes paid leave — during periods of heavy smoke to those whose health is seriously threatened. Story


13 Candidates Running for Retiring Rep. Debbie Lesko's AZ House Seat After watching the former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy walk over to Rep. Matt Gaetz on the House floor and “basically beg” for the votes to become speaker in January 2023 — after 15 rounds of voting — Greg Whitten knew he had to do something. The 39-year-old former Pentagon staffer and Arizona native said he decided to join the race for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District as a Democrat to defend democracy and reinstate normalcy to Congress. He said he was sick of the MAGA wing of the Republican Party and the ineffective governance by his representatives. Story


New Form I-9 Required as of November 1, 2023 The new Form I-9—titled Employment Eligibility Verification and released on August 1, 2023—must be used for all new hires, effective November 1, 2023. The grace period—during which an employer could use the new Form I-9 or the Form I-9 (10/21/2019 version)—ended October 31, 2023. Story


Large Contractors Union Shops Better at Anti-Harassment Training? Like most of you, I get the Construction “Daily Dive” email, whose motto is “We print any shit that hits our inbox.” Well, I may have put words in their mouth. I was intrigued by this recent story that noted, “There was also a large disparity between union and non-union shops: contractors that hire union workers are more than twice as likely (85 percent) to have anti-harassment training than those that hire non-union workers exclusively (42 percent).” That almost sounded like it came directly from union talking points. Well, it probably won’t surprise any of you that the report was “Produced in partnership with CPWR, The Center for Construction Research and Training.” And who do you suppose sponsors CPWR? NABTU.


Big Changes Are Coming To Small Prop 65 Warnings Changes to the popular “short-form” warning option for businesses complying with California’s Proposition 65 are on the horizon and will likely make that warning longer and more difficult to use. Other important changes are on the way, too. Proposition 65 requires businesses to provide “clear and reasonable” warnings before knowingly and intentionally exposing California consumers to one of over 900 chemicals listed as “known to the State” to cause cancer or reproductive harm. In 2018, CalEPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which implements the law, enacted changes to its safe harbor regulations, making the standard safe harbor warning language longer and more specific but also introducing a “short-form” warning option with less language and a broad scope: it covered all exposures. It did not require users to specify a listed chemical. Story


SB 553 Guidance The California Chamber held a webinar earlier this month with guidance for employers on SB 553 (Cortese), which passed this year and will create a range of new obligations for employers around workplace violence. The Chamber legal team prepared it, and it should benefit those trying to get their head around SB 553 as we head into 2024. For attorneys out there, it also provides some MCLE credit! It can be found here.


Friday, October 27, 2023   Upcoming Events


Friday, October 27, 2023   Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy

Senate Candidate Adam Schiff Locks Lips with Unions – Plans a Bill, Sure to Fail, to Allow Striking Workers To Collect Unemployment Pay Following the veto of SB 799 by Congressional aspirants Senator Anthony Portantino and Assembly Member Laura Friedman (who are both running to replace Schiff in Congress) Congressman Schiff, apparently wanting to solidify his support from unions, announced planned legislation that would provide unemployment benefits nationwide to workers on strike. Most states don’t allow striking workers to collect unemployment except New York and New Jersey. Eligibility requirements and the amount of weekly unemployment pay also vary by state. Under the Empowering Striking Workers Act of 2023, workers could collect unemployment pay after two weeks on strike, according to a draft of the bill viewed by the LATimes. Workers would also be eligible for unemployment benefits starting when a lockout begins, when the employer hires permanent replacement workers, or if the worker becomes unemployed after a strike or lock-out ends, whichever is earlier. U.S. Reps. Donald Norcross of New Jersey and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York also sponsored the bill. According to Schiff's office, not surprisingly, labor unions support the legislation. But with Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, the odds that the bill will pass are slim. Businesses have vehemently opposed the idea because they said it would increase employer taxes. Employers pay state and federal payroll taxes to fund the unemployment insurance program. That didn’t stop Schiff, who is locked in a tight race with two other candidates in the March election for Senate. Story

An Endorsement for you and you… Per Politico,Democrats in two target congressional districts have all but sewn up their party endorsements ahead of the California Democratic Convention next month. Sen. Dave Min and former Assemblymember Rudy Salas announced this week that they had earned enough support from delegates to land them on the endorsement consent calendar. California Democrats will make their official picks during their endorsing convention Nov. 17-19 in downtown Sacramento. Both candidates face primary challengers ahead of what are expected to be tough matchups with Republicans. Min wants to replace Rep. Katie Porter in her Orange County district but must first beat Joanna Weiss, who has earned support from some statewide and regional Democrats. Salas is looking for a rematch with Republican Rep. David Valadao and faces a challenge from state Sen. Melissa Hurtado.

California Teachers Want Your Taxes The California Teachers Association is opposing a business-backed tax initiative while endorsing a dueling measure, the teachers union announced recently. Several other labor unions are also fighting the “Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act,” a 2024 ballot measure from the California Business Roundtable that would raise the voter threshold needed to pass state and local taxes. The CTA also backs Assembly Constitutional Amendment 13, an initiative Democratic leaders wrote in response to the business initiative. It would require that measures to raise voter thresholds net that same level of support to pass — effectively raising the bar for the business group’s initiative from a simple majority to a two-thirds vote. Cities and unions are contesting the business coalition’s move because raising revenue and funding public services like education will make it more difficult. CTA’s endorsements signal the possibility the union will throw its financial weight into the escalating tax dispute. The CTA routinely spends millions to defeat initiatives that would limit the amount of revenue guaranteed to schools.

Outdoor Pools The California Energy Commission announced that it is setting new standards for swimming pools, which use and “waste a lot of energy,” said commissioner Andrew McAllister in a video. Starting in September 2025, owners must have equipment like internet-connected smart pool pumps that can adjust their operations during non-peak energy hours. Politico says the pumps “cost about $70 more than regular ones, but users are expected to save $100 a month by buying power during the day when it’s cheaper.” If every pool owner in California switches to a controller that offers flexible energy use, the commission estimates that the load shift would be “the equivalent to removing 85,000 gasoline-powered cars off the road,” and consumer savings would add up to about $1,131 over the lifetime of the pool controller.

Pool pumps are the first household appliance the state will regulate under Senate Bill 49, a 2019 Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) law that authorized the California Energy Commission to set standards to ease demand during peak energy usage periods. It's the first in a series of appliance requirements to bring the state’s transition to carbon-free energy directly into people’s homes.

NLRB Data: Union Won 91% of Certification Elections in September, 76% in FY 2023 Unions won a staggering 91 percent of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)-conducted certification elections in September, according to recently released data, giving unions a 76 percent overall certification election win rate in the NLRB’s fiscal year 2023, which ended in September. The September win rate of 91 percent tops the previous 2023 high of 88 percent in February. Story

New California Law Makes Non-Compete Agreements Unlawful, Not Just Void Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1076 on October 13, 2023, which adds new Business & Professions Code §16600.1, making it unlawful to impose non-compete clauses on employees – which contractual restrictions already are void under Business & Professions Code §16600. AB 1076 codifies existing case law in Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP (2008) 44 Cal.4th 937, regarding the prohibition on noncompete agreements being broadly construed to void such agreements and clauses in the employment context when they do not meet specific exemptions. Story

As Rooftop Solar Debate Flares, Builders, Landlords, and Renter Advocates Are Taking Sides California isn’t short on lofty goals: Lawmakers have vowed to zero out the state’s carbon emissions by 2045, build 2.5 million new homes by the end of the decade and swap gas-burning appliances with electric ones in 7 million homes over the next 12 years. California’s chief utility regulator is considering a new rooftop solar policy that a chorus of critics say will make it harder for the state to meet any of those ambitious targets. Story

How to Prepare for California’s New Workplace Violence Prevention Law On September 30, 2023, Governor Newsom signed SB-553 into law. SB-553 is the nation’s first workplace violence prevention law. The law adds a new section 6401.9, to the California Labor Code, which Cal/OSHA will implement. The new law requires that employers have an effective plan to prevent workplace violence by July 1, 2024. The plan may be incorporated into an existing Injury, Illness, and Prevention Plan and does not apply to workers teleworking from a location of the employee’s choice or employers already regulated by existing standards for the healthcare industry. Story

Thursday, October 12, 2023   Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy

Affordable Housing in San Diego – Just not Affordable for the Taxpayers Who Will Pay for it The Housing Authority of the City of San Diego plans to build a 99-unit affordable rental housing development for individuals and families earning 30 percent to 55 percent of the San Diego Area Median Income (AMI) in the Rancho Bernardo neighborhood. The project will consist of 49 one-bedroom units (537 square feet), 25 two-bedroom units (815 square feet), and 26 three-bedroom units (1,090 square feet) within one building. The project will be built on vacant land – reducing development costs and eliminating any costs of relocating existing tenants. Because the funding will come from a mix of both State and Federal funds, prevailing wages must be paid, and because it is a City project, it will be covered by a PLA. The result of which produces a projected cost of $909,431 per unit. City staff noted that the PLA and prevailing wages mandate contributed to exorbitant unit costs.
HVAC Manufacturers Commit to Six Million Heat Pump Goal 10 of the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers of building heating and cooling equipment signed an agreement committing to actions to achieve California’s goal to have six million electric heat pumps installed by 2030. The announcement occurred at a two-day summit hosted by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and EPRI. The event brought government leaders with industry, academic, community partners, and others to explore affordable, reliable, and equitable pathways to electrifying buildings — a crucial part of California’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century. The manufacturers signing on include A. O. Smith Corporation, Carrier, Daikin, Fujitsu, Johnson Controls, Lennox International, LG Electronics, Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US, Rheem Manufacturing Company, and Trane Technologies.
Status Update
AB 3 (Zbur, D) Establishes the California Offshore Wind Advancement Act to develop a strategy for seaport readiness for offshore wind energy developments and to study the feasibility of achieving 70% and 85% in-state assembly and manufacturing of offshore wind energy projects. The CEC must consult with construction unions on how PLAs can achieve workforce development and apprenticeship goals. Signed
AB 309 (Lee, D) Creates the Social Housing Program within the Department of General Services to identify and develop up to three social housing projects on state-owned surplus land deemed suitable for housing. In April, Lee stripped out several State Building and Construction Trades Council boilerplate provisions, including the mandated use of a Skilled and Trained Workforce, community benefits agreements, and PW mandates. Vetoed because of cost.
AB 336 (Cervantes, D) This Iron Workers-sponsored bill will 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. Signed
AB 1121 (Haney, D) Requires awarding authorities to annually submit to the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) electronic project registration database a list of contractors, with specified information, that are ineligible to bid on or be awarded a public works contract or to perform work as a subcontractor on a public works project, under local debarment or suspension processes. Signed
AB 1204 (Holden, D) This State Building and Construction Trades Council-sponsored bill prohibits a contractor from contracting with two or more subcontractors in the same license classification for the same work at the same job site unless the subcontractor has employees who work in that license classification. Signed
AB 1628 (McKinnor, D) Prohibits, on and after January 1, 2029, a new washing machine from being sold or offered for sale in the state for residential or state use unless the washing machine contains a microfiber filtration system with a mesh size not greater than 100 micrometers (µm). Vetoed
SB 48 (Becker, D) This bill requires the California Energy Commission (CEC), along with other agencies, to develop a state strategy to achieve state goals for energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing buildings. Signed
SB 394 (Gonzalez, D) This bill requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to convene a group of agencies and stakeholders to develop a master plan for healthy, sustainable, and climate-resilient schools. The bill mandates the plan includes “recommendations to ensure that local educational agencies have access to sufficient technical assistance, professional learning, training programs, and pipelines of sustainability and climate resilience personnel to implement decarbonization and adaptation plans that include high road labor standards, project labor agreements with unionized workforces…” Vetoed
SB 410 (Becker, D) This bill requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to establish by September 30, 2024, reasonable average and maximum target energization periods to connect new customers and upgrade the service of existing customers to the electrical grid. This bill also requires reporting by electrical corporations and authorizes specified annual cost recovery, subject to a cap. Signed
SB 553 (Cortese, D) This bill requires employers to establish, implement, and maintain an effective workplace violence prevention plan (WVPP) that includes, among other elements, requirements to maintain incident logs, provide specified training, and conduct periodic plan reviews. This bill also authorizes a collective bargaining representative of an employee who has suffered unlawful violence from any individual to seek a temporary restraining order (TRO) and an order after hearing on behalf of the employee(s) at the workplace. Signed
SB 601 (McGuire, D) This bill specifies that if a violation of specific provisions of the Contractors Law occurs in a location damaged by a natural disaster for which a state of emergency has been declared, the court shall impose the maximum fine. The bill also adds violations about fraudulent or misrepresented licenses to specified Penal Code (PEN) provisions with a three-year statute of limitations period. Signed
SB 616 (Gonzalez, D) Expands the state's paid sick leave law to provide an employee with at least 40 hours or five days of sick leave by the 200th calendar day of employment. Signed
SB 799 (Portantino, D) This bill authorizes workers involved in a trade dispute to collect unemployment insurance (UI) benefits after a two-week wait period while on strike. Vetoed
SB 822 (Durazo, D) Requires the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) to create high-road evaluation metrics in consultation with stakeholders. Requires, by January 1, 2025, specified state agencies to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the CWDB to coordinate economic and workforce development planning, analysis, and implementation activities. Vetoed
Some Other Interesting Decisions
Undocumented seniors: Newsom vetoed a bill to expand an existing state program — which gave cash assistance to elderly, blind, or disabled immigrants — to eligible undocumented seniors. In his message, the governor emphasized his current efforts to “support the undocumented community.” Still, he wrote that passing this measure would “not be prudent nor would (the policy) meet its intended purpose without providing funding.”
Fare evasion: Agreeing with the BART board and other critics, the governor vetoed a measure to decriminalize transit fare evaders, writing that he “cannot take an action… that could, in turn, contribute to an increase in crime on transit.” (Meanwhile, BART continues to roll out its more challenging fare gates to combat fare evaders.)
Free condoms: Though the governor supported improving “adolescent sexual health,” he ultimately axed a measure to require California high schools to provide students free condoms, again due to costs.
Caste Discrimination: Newsom vetoed a bill that would have explicitly outlawed caste discrimination in California, dealing a blow to activists hoping to make the state the first in the nation to enact such a ban and a first-term lawmaker who shepherded one of the more controversial bills of the session through the Legislature. The law would have inserted caste into the definition of ancestry, making it illegal to discriminate based on caste under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Fair Employment and Housing Act, and education discrimination law. In his veto message, Newsom said the bill is unnecessary because caste discrimination is already prohibited under existing civil rights protections that "shall be liberally construed."
Carbon Disclosure Newsom signed two bills requiring large corporations operating in the state to disclose their carbon footprints and climate-related financial risks starting in 2026. Senate Bill 253, by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), and Senate Bill 261, from state Sen. Henry Stern (D-Sherman Oaks), are the two most ambitious climate bills to come out of deep-blue California this year. Taken together, the laws will change the landscape for corporate disclosure. For the first time in the U.S., large publicly traded and privately held corporations doing business in California will need to make public their impact on the environment, including Scope 3 emissions or those generated through a company’s value chain and how climate change impacts their bottom line.
Oil And Gas: Newsom signed a bill to require oil companies to fund well closures and vetoed another that would have diluted the state's authority over oil refineries. He signed Assembly Bill 1167, from Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), which requires oil companies to pay more upfront for the costs of eventually closing used-up wells. He vetoed Senate Bill 842, by state Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), which would have tacked new requirements onto the gasoline price-gouging legislation Newsom and the Legislature passed with fanfare early this year. The decisions reinforce Newsom's self-styled image as a foil to Big Oil, which he has accused of extorting Californians by charging high gasoline prices. He and Attorney General Rob Bonta also sued oil majors last month, seeking compensation for climate change-related damages.
California Bans Inquiries About Applicant Cannabis Use On October 7, 2023, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 700, which makes it unlawful under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant based on information regarding prior use of cannabis that is learned from a criminal history. However, SB 700 does not preempt state or federal laws requiring an applicant to be tested for controlled substances, nor is an employer prohibited from asking about an applicant’s criminal history as long as in compliance with state law requirements. This change takes effect on January 1, 2024. As a reminder, in 2022, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill (AB) 2188, which makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment based upon (1) a person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace, or (2) an employer-required drug screening test that has found the person to have non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids. AB 2188 also takes effect on January 1, 2024. There is an exemption for the building and construction trades. Story
Employees in California Get a Bump in Paid Sick Leave Governor Gavin Newsom approved Senate Bill No. 616 (SB 616), significantly increasing the amount of paid sick leave required under California’s existing paid sick leave law. Under existing law, employees in California who work for 30 or more days within a year for the same employer are entitled to accrue paid sick days at a rate of not less than one hour for every 30 hours worked beginning at the commencement of employment, subject to use and accrual limitations. The statute allows employers to choose an alternative accrual method or provide paid sick leave in a lump sum, so long as employees receive no less than 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave by the 120th calendar day of employment. Story
Workplace Violence Prevention Plans Required For California Employers by July 2024 Governor Newsom has signed SB 553, a first-of-its-kind workplace violence prevention law, which requires nearly all California employers to create, adopt, and implement written Workplace Violence Prevention Plans that include numerous elements, annual workplace violence prevention training, violent incident logs, and the creation and retention of various records. Interestingly, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), in collaboration with various stakeholders, has been working on a general industry workplace violence standard since 2017. Now, SB 553 requires the Division to enforce new workplace violence requirements largely modeled on Cal/OSHA’s existing draft standard. Under the new law, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board must adopt workplace violence standards codifying SB 553 no later than December 31, 2025. But regulations or not, Cal/OSHA is empowered and directed to start enforcing SB 553 on July 1, 2024. Story
California Impeachment California voters approved Proposition 21, allowing for impeachment of state officers for misdemeanors, on Oct. 10, 1911.  Proposition 21 was a constitutional amendment to allow state officers, including the governor and judges, to be impeached for any misdemeanor in office. The vote was 157,596 (76.16%) to 49,345 (23.84%).
Governors have been impeached 16 times in U.S. history, with nine removed. The last time a sitting governor was impeached was in 2009 when Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was convicted and removed from office.
In 2023, the Texas House of Representatives impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). The Texas Senate acquitted him on Sept. 16.
1911 was a busy year for ballot measures in the Golden State. Voters decided 23 legislatively referred constitutional amendments, approving 22 of them. Voters rejected Proposition 19, which would have expanded the list of government officials eligible to receive a free or discounted railroad ticket from railroad companies. Voters rejected that proposition 49% to 51%. 

Monday, September 18, 2023   Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy

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.