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Thursday, May 12, 2022   WECA Political Update May 12, 2022

New Gift to Unions? A bill going through the Legislature could help future striking workers avoid losing their employer-sponsored benefits. AB2530 by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), would extend coverage through Covered California to workers who lose employer-sponsored benefits due to a labor dispute. California has already enacted AB237, which prevents public-sector employers from terminating employees’ health insurance during a strike. Wood’s bill, sponsored by the California Labor Federation and other groups, would extend that protection to the private sector. The bill passed the Assembly Health Committee last month and is now in the fiscal committee.

New Assemblymember The State Assembly swore in its newest member — former San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney. Haney took over the Assembly District 17, which was left vacant by David Chiu when he was appointed to serve as San Francisco city attorney last year. Haney won the seat in a runoff with former San Francisco Supervisor David Campos in April. In order to win the full Assembly term that begins in 2023, Haney has to run again in June in the statewide primary. Campos' name will be on the ballot due to the filing deadline, but Campos has said he does not intend to challenge Haney in June or in November.

Lincoln Property, Meta go big in Arizona LPC Desert West, the Southwest arm of Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co., is planning to build a 2.3 million-square-foot industrial facility adjacent to Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona, a fast-growing industrial corridor west of Phoenix. The $515 million development, dubbed Luke Field, will include buildings of 1.26 million square feet, 604,000 square feet and 416,000 square feet on 140 acres that Lincoln Property purchased for $53 million. Construction for the project, which will be built in one phase, is expected to start in the fourth quarter and be completed in 2024. Butler Design Group is the architect; a general contractor has not been selected. The development comes as Meta Platforms Inc., parent company of Facebook Inc., also is targeting the Phoenix area for growth. The company on Wednesday said it’s expanding a two-building, $800 million data-center project in Mesa to a five-building effort spanning more than 2.5 million square feet with a price tag north of $1 billion.

Construction Trades Are Only Worried about the Environment if it is a Means to a PLA The “left-of-center” Los Angeles Times noted recently “The efforts to end California’s embrace of freeways face opposition from a powerful group: trade unions. Labor leaders contend that limiting freeway widening overestimates the state’s ability to transition from an automobile-centered culture and does so at the expense of good-paying jobs. “We’re not the organization of ‘no’ when it comes to climate change. We’re the organization of ‘slow,” said Joseph Cruz, executive director of the California State Council of Laborers. “Put a plan together where you make the other transportation opportunities available before you talk about shutting down freeways.” Cruz’s group and other labor organizations are against the most aggressive plan to stymie freeway expansion – Assembly Bill 1778 – written by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), which would block freeway widening in areas of the state with high levels of pollution and poverty. Story

Opinion: Chula Vista Needs a Citywide Project Labor Agreement to Prosper So says Zaneta Encarnacion, who is a candidate for mayor of Chula Vista. In a recent opinion she noted “We can do something now to ensure more high-paying local jobs are available right here in Chula Vista: approve a citywide project labor agreement on major public works projects. A project labor agreement would ensure the city is doing its part to help keep our local dollars circulating, benefiting our local workforce and our local businesses — while solving the problems created by our current commuter culture. And it builds pride for one’s community when you get to be part of building it. Parents can point to the projects they had a hand in building while taking their kids to soccer on the weekend.” Chula Vista merit shop contractors should keep that in mind at the next election. Story

Who Will Build California’s Electric Vehicle Charging Stations and Why it Matters In an unbiased article on the IBEW Local 11 funded website Capital & Main (whose mantra is “fact-based reporting, not opinion”), author Jessica Goodheart waxes on about the virtues of the EVITP certification – citing many of the same folk who supported AB 841 by California Assemblyman Phil Ting in 2020 – that requires at least a quarter of certified electricians on publicly funded or authorized projects to have participated in the 18-hour course. She quotes IBEW’s Bernie Kotlier, who said that there is no central repository of code violations, electrocutions, fires or deaths related to installation errors. Still, over the years, there have been scattered press reports of fires that have broken out while cars were charging that have not been battery-related. Read the story here if you can stomach it.

Nancy Pelosi’s Unionization Folly Democrats are trying to organize Congress. That sounds like the opening of a joke, but the punch line might not be what you’d expect. House leadership wants to allow collective bargaining for congressional staff, which would do little to improve work conditions, cause a lot of headaches, and solve little. On Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would vote this week on a resolution, introduced in February by Rep. Andy Levin (D - Michigan), which would allow House staffers to bargain collectively. Story

Thursday, April 28, 2022   WECA Political Update April 28, 2022

Race to the semi-finish Tomorrow is the first big deadline for the 2022 legislative session, so more than 60 legislative committees met from Monday afternoon until today to “carefully consider” pending legislation and pass them – primarily along party-line votes – meaning Democratic authors’ bills move and Republicans’ – not so much. So instead, we’ll look at two that exemplify why California routinely registers at the bottom of lists of places to do business.

First is AB 2454 by Reggie Jones-Sawyer, which authorizes joint labor-management committees to protest a state public works contract not awarded to the lowest bidder. Some of you may have been party to a bid protest filed by a “losing” bidder. AB 2454 would – in the words of the author – “ensure a more transparent public works contracting process, AB 2454 allows Joint Labor Management Committees to file protests in situations where they argue the bidder who was awarded a contract does not meet the criteria of the ‘lowest responsible bidder.’ This bill is an effort to ensure contracting transparency that weeds out favoritism in public works contracts and protects contractors who fail to speak up out of fear of retribution.” The Construction Employers’ Association (CEA) argued, “(Under this bill) joint labor management committees would be authorized to protest the award of all public works contracts simply on the basis that the committee does not believe that the lowest responsible bidder is in fact responsible. In practice, this nebulous criterion would enable every joint labor management committee to simply protest awards where their signatory members are not aligned with the winning bidder, or if there is a jurisdictional dispute between crafts.” In other words, any state construction contract that employs a merit-shop sub-contractor will be sure to be protested.

Interestingly, the committee chair, Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, noted the prevalence of CEQA “blackmailing,” and wouldn’t AB 2454 “unintentionally” result in the same thing happening? The author and sponsor (International Union of Operating Engineers, Cal-Nevada Conference) assured the chair that that would never happen and, thus, reassured, that she supported the bill. While in its present form, the bill only applies to state contracts, you can bet the unions will be back next session to “close this loophole” and permits unions to protest any public works award!

The other is SB 1020 by John Laird and Toni Atkins, which establishes interim targets to reach SB 100 clean energy goals and requires state agencies to purchase 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2030 to serve their load. In addition, the bill establishes a California Affordable Decarbonization Authority as a nonprofit benefit organization as a mechanism to fund various electric utility-related programs and activities. The bill was gutted and amended on April 18 to include these new requirements and a mandate that contractors for utilities or load-serving entities (LSEs) use a multicraft project labor agreement. Although not listed as supporters, this was a demand of the State Building and Construction Trades Council. Other than during opposition testimony, the author made no mention of the need for the PLA. The bill was passed on a party-line vote.

Will State Building and Construction Trades Council Acquiesce? From Politico, “Workforce disputes have stymied bills seeking to accelerate housing construction for years. A growing bloc of Democratic lawmakers want to make it easier to plan and build multi-unit housing, seeing a burst of new homes as critical to resolving the intertwined housing and homelessness crises that are top of voters’ wish lists. The formidable State Building and Construction Trade Council of California has maintained that any state actions to boost supply must bring commensurate benefits to the workers doing all that building. Legislation unveiled recently offered a glimmer of compromise. Both housing developers and the California Conference of Carpenters have signed on to Assemblymember Buffy Wicks’ bill to expedite building on commercially zoned land or near commercial corridors. In return, projects would need to guarantee prevailing wage and health benefits, give unions new tools to pursue wage violations and — perhaps most critically — require builders to either use or seek out members of apprenticeship programs, which effectively means union members or equivalently compensated laborers. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon lent his support. But winning over the carpenters doesn’t mean persuading the trades. The umbrella union blasted the bill in a formal letter of opposition as an “anti-worker and anti-community Trojan horse” that would “eviscerate working-class communities by sacrificing the interests of the construction workforce that developers will exploit for profit.” (It’s not opposition all the way down: the trades are sponsoring a measure from sometimes antagonist Sen. Scott Wiener to increase student housing). Those types of fractures narrow the measure’s path to passage. “We believe this is a very powerful labor bill. We’re not giving up the ghost here,” said California Conference of Carpenters President Danny Curtin, but he acknowledged that when there is controversy, elected officials would much, much prefer to have a unified position in labor. Getting the trades on board, or at least to neutral, Curtin said, “Used to be the million-dollar question. It’s probably more of a billion-dollar question by now.” California elected officials are under intense pressure to demonstrate progress on housing. Disagreement about the balance between spurring more construction and ensuring good jobs is a central piece of that puzzle. So, the fate of Wicks’ bill could indicate where things stand — particularly after longtime trades leader Robbie Hunter stepped down. “I think it’s much more than a test case,” said California Housing Consortium Executive Director Ray Pearl, who helped craft the Wicks bill and has clashed with the trades. “It is an honest attempt to bridge that gap, and we are hopeful that there is a breakthrough.”

A “Needs Test” for schools!? One of my favorite columnists, George Will, wrote recently “There is honor, of a sordid sort, in the Biden administration’s showing more gratitude to a major donor than concern for the needs of millions of children, disproportionately minorities. The administration prefers the donor, a government-employees union, over the children, even though this tawdry fidelity to a funder will exacerbate Democrats’ growing problems with Black and Hispanic voters. This is the significance of the number 97.9. From 1990 on, that is the lowest percentage of the American Federation of Teachers’ campaign contributions that went to Democrats. It explains the administration’s contemptible pettiness in persecuting charter schools with punitive regulations intended to be crippling.” Yes, George is talking about “13 pages of pettifogging rules patently written to discourage and impede charter schools from accessing a $440 million federal program of support for charters. The rules include: “A charter must prepare a ‘community impact analysis’ demonstrating that there is an ‘unmet demand’ for it. Such a demonstration must be evidence of ‘over-enrollment of existing public schools,’ not long waiting lists for admission to charters by parents dismayed by public schools whose dismal performance has produced under-enrollment because of parental flight.” Hmmm, where have we seen that before? Oh – right, California Labor Code section 3075 prohibits an apprenticeship program from opening up or expanding into a new part of the state unless permitted by existing apprenticeship programs. No one should be surprised; Biden has said from the outset that he would be the most union president in history! Here is the link to his piece. It may be behind the Washington Post paywall, in which case, let me know, and I will send you the story.

More from Will. In a subsequent piece, where Will suggests banning US Senators from becoming President, Will noted this about Utah’s Junior Senator. “One of today’s exemplary senators, Mitt Romney, surely is such partly because, his presidential ambitions retired, he nevertheless wants to be a senator. Were all persons with presidential ambitions deterred from becoming senators, this probably would improve the caliber of senators, and of presidents, and the equilibrium between the political branches.” Some readers may take exception to this characterization, but Will’s arguments are at least interesting. Here is the link to his piece. It may be behind the Washington Post paywall, in which case, let me know, and I will send you the story.
Construction firms hit Biden PLA plan More from the Washington Post “As building trades labor leaders hailed President Biden’s pro-union policies and serenaded him with shouts of “Joe! Joe! Joe!” at a recent appearance, hundreds of companies that employ construction workers countered with an opposing message. Almost simultaneously, as Biden praised “project labor agreements” (PLA) to the North America’s Building Trades Unions’ (NABTU) legislative conference, an Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) letter accused him of “taking a dangerously partisan approach” because he promotes those agreements. Story
Arizona Unemployment Rate Hits 45-Year Low In March 2022, Arizona had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.3%. This was slightly lower than the national unemployment rate at the same time, according to data released recently by the Arizona Commerce Authority. The latest data continues a gradual decline in people seeking work since job-seeking peaked at 13.9% in April 2020. March data marks a 0.3-point drop in the state’s rate compared to February and a significant improvement over the unemployment rate of March 2021. Then, the state had a 5.8% unemployment rate – 2.5 percentage points higher than it is now.
Did Soria Break Pledge Not to Accept Oil Money in Campaigns? Assembly candidate Esmeralda Soria, a Fresno Democrat, pledged not to accept oil or gas money. Based on financial filings, that vow may have been broken. Story

Union filings up The number of petitions filed for union representation in the first half of the fiscal year 2022 is up 57% over the same time last year. Experts say companies need to be prepared given those trends and laws governing how companies can respond to union efforts.

Cal/OSHA Approves Third Revised ETS and Clarifies Position on Some Lingering Questions California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA or “the Division”) Standards Board met on April 21, 2022, and formally approved the third readoption of its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (“3rd Revised ETS”), by a 6-1 vote. There were no substantive changes from the earlier draft text. Under Governor Newsom’s previous executive order that paved the way for this readoption, the 3rd Revised ETS will become effective when the Office of Administrative Law completes its review and files it with the secretary of state, which is anticipated to occur before the end of the first week of May 2022 and will remain in effect through December 31, 2022. Learn More

If you are a fan of Gosar or Nugent, you will be pleased to learn Rocker Ted Nugent Backs Republican Congressman Paul Gosar in his Arizona Reelection Bid. Ted Nugent has endorsed Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., in what will become the 9th Congressional District. The six-term congressman currently represents Arizona’s 4th Congressional District. Still, due to redistricting, he’s seeking reelection in a new district that covers most of Arizona’s western border, including parts of La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, and Yuma counties. Nugent, who lives in Michigan, has been among the most politically outspoken rock musicians to the right of the political spectrum for decades. Story

A California bill that would ban offshore drilling in state waters passed its first hurdle, despite opposition from fossil fuel industry groups and the State Building and Construction Trades Council. Per Politico, “This comes six months after an underwater pipeline leaked 25,000 gallons of crude oil off the Orange County coast. The California Independent Petroleum Association doesn’t oppose the newly proposed amortization study to pay operators for ending leases early. But the organization and its worker allies are still fighting the measure — resistance that could prove difficult to overcome at future legislative checkpoints. The bill, SB 953 by Sen. Dave Min (D-Costa Mesa), who represents the district affected by the OC oil leak, secured the minimum five votes needed to pass the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on Tuesday. Nearly all opposition has come from local chapters of the State Building and Construction Trade Council of California, which has torpedoed past climate measures, much to progressive Democrats’ chagrin. The unions argued the measure wouldn’t reduce oil demand and increase crude imports. Still, Min pointed out that offshore drilling in California’s federal and state waters accounts for less than 0.3 percent of the nation’s annual production.

Moreover, his legislation would only affect three oil platforms in state waters. Sierra Club California doesn’t have a position on the measure, but signaled concerns later articulated by Committee Chair Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park), who said some environmentalists are “concerned about the ‘polluter pays’ principle, and that we don’t want to be subsidizing cleanup activity that is the responsibility of the industry that has profited in the billions not just on offshore but onshore as well.” The legislation is expected to advance later Tuesday to the Senate Appropriations Committee. It has until May 20 to clear fiscal review ahead of a full floor vote.”

Judge Rules That Race and LGBT Quotas for Corporate Board Members Violate the California Constitution A Los Angeles Superior Court judge recently ruled that a California law (Assembly Bill 979) requiring California corporations to implement race and LGBT quotas for their board of directors is unconstitutional. The state is expected to appeal Judge Green’s decision. Story

Associated General Contractors of San Diego (AGC-SD) won a high-stakes labor dispute with the Operating Engineers Local 12. A favorable arbitration decision clarifies the circumstances when a freeway contractor can utilize a Sunday to Thursday night shift without incurring massive liability for Sunday double time. The arbitrator accepted AGC-SD’s arguments in their entirety. The arbitrator denied the Operating Engineers’ claim for Sunday double time, which would be required if the contractor’s special shift was deemed to violate the master labor agreement. Story

SCOTUS Declines to Review CalSavers The US Supreme Court denied a petition to review a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that upheld the legality of California’s automatic retirement savings program. The case is Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association et al. v. California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program et al., case number 21-558. California created CalSavers in 2012 and required California employers with five or more workers either to offer retirement plans to their employees or join CalSavers by 2022. When employers join CalSavers, their employees have a portion of their paychecks automatically invested into an IRA unless they opt-out of the program. Important deadline: As of June 30, 2022, mandated employers with five or more employees must register. The three-year phased rollout included staggered deadlines for registration based on employer size. Employers who do not fulfill their responsibilities by the specified deadline dates are subject to enforcement action, including financial penalties.

LAO Report suggests climate change poses a particular risk to employees who cannot avoid outdoor exposure, including construction workers, and that the risk is increasing. Story

Andy Levine wins race for vacant Fresno Unified board seat Levine – a sociology lecturer at Fresno State and leading social justice advocate, replaces the late Carol Mills, the former dean of the Fresno Unified School Board. Levine won a four-way race with 55.87 percent of the vote. Only 3,030 people voted in the election.

Thursday, April 14, 2022   WECA Political Update April 14, 2022

For your next time on Jeopardy under the category State milkshakes, the answer is: date shake. And the question is, “What is California’s official milkshake?” What, you didn’t know California had an official milkshake? Well, we will after the legislature passes AB 868 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia. You see, current law establishes the state flag and the state’s emblems, and the official state sport (surfing). But until AB 868, California hasn’t had an official state milkshake! Fortunately, Sacramento will have enough time in their busy calendar of imposing new mandates on California businesses to address this abysmal lack of recognition of the importance of date shakes! The bill was introduced to create the "Emergency Funeral Expenses Fund" and required the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to provide funeral expenses to a person who applied for funeral expense assistance for eligible funeral home contract costs incurred for a decedent who died due to COVID-19 or as a result of an emergency that is the basis of a state of emergency declared by the Governor. Obviously, date shakes are more important. In case you are curious, date shakes are high in fiber, iron, potassium, and niacin. And the Legislature is full of__________, well, you fill in the blank.

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is now a millionaire, according to the Associated Press. “When she ran for governor in 2018, her lackluster personal finances and a hefty tax bill from the IRS gave Republicans fodder to question how she could manage a state budget when she struggled with her own debts. Abrams is now worth $3.17 million, according to state disclosures she filed in March!” I want the name of her investment advisor!
Former Alaska Gov. and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is shaking up the race for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat. The Associated Press reported she filed paperwork to join a field of at least 40 candidates seeking the job. It had been held for 49 years by U.S. Rep. Don Young, who died last month. The field includes current and former state legislators and a North Pole City Council member named Santa Claus.
As if there wasn’t enough going on in California! Last Tuesday was the last day for voters to cast or mail in ballots in four special elections prompted by a “Great Resignation” of lawmakers.
One result, Democrat Lori Wilson -- the former mayor of Suisun City -- will be sworn in as the newest member of the State Assembly. She ran unopposed to replace Jim Frazier, the Fairfield Democrat who resigned to pursue job opportunities in the transportation sector.
Democrats Georgette Gómez and David Alvarez are headed for a June 7 runoff for the Assembly seat formerly held by Lorena Gonzalez, who quit to take over the California Labor Federation. The race pitted labor groups against business interests and attracted oodles of special interest money.
Democrats Robert Pullen-Miles, mayor of Lawndale, and Tina McKinnor, a longtime political activist, will run off to replace Autumn Burke, the Los Angeles Democrat who gave up her Assembly seat to join prominent lobbying firm Axiom Advisors.
And former Assembly GOP leader Connie Conway advanced to a runoff, with Democrat Lourin Hubbard, a state Department of Water Resources specialist, leading for the second spot, in a six-way race to replace Republican Devin Nunes, who gave up his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to run former President Donald Trump’s new media company.
In other election news: San Francisco Mayor London Breed endorsed Supervisor Matt Haney over former Supervisor David Campos for the state Assembly seat David Chiu vacated to become city attorney. Haney and Campos will battle for the seat in an April 19 runoff election.
In Sacramento election news, WECA members are encouraged to support Elk Grove City Councilman Pat Hume in the race for County Supervisor to replace Don Notalli who decided not to run for re-election. He is running against the evil PLA supporter Jacklyn Moreno, whose campaign co-chair is Darryl Steinberg. Hume is holding two events in May.
COVID News The Biden administration extended the national Covid public health emergency for another 90 days. The move maintains a range of benefits, including access to tests and telehealth services. The CDC said it would extend for two weeks a mask requirement on planes and public transit that had been set to expire. Boris Johnson will be fined for breaking lockdown rules, making him the first British prime minister in living memory to have been found in breach of the law.
Is wind in your business future? The Office of Advocacy of the SBA will host a roundtable to discuss the United States Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) request for comments on the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area Draft Environmental Assessment. On April 6, 2022, BOEM announced the availability of a draft environmental assessment for the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area located off the coast of San Luis Obispo County, California. The roundtable will take place on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 from 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. ET. Roundtable participation details will be provided upon receipt of an RSVP. RSVPs should be sent to prianka.sharma@sba.gov. The purpose of the roundtable will be to gather specific small entity input and presentations on the request for comments. Parties interested in making oral presentations during the roundtable should indicate this in their RSVP. WECA plans to ask how the Biden/Harris/Walsh PLA will affect this project.
Cue the charger rush, and why IBEW pushed for EVITP. California regulators are proposing an annual ramp-up to the state's 2035 ban of new gas car sales, a timeline that automakers cautioned as "extremely challenging”, and environmentalists lamented as too slow. Documents published by the California Air Resources Board are an opening salvo and could be revised to thread the needle between the two sides. But the timeline will be tight, as the draft rules are up for their first hearing in less than two months and are slated to be approved in August.
Sinema says she'll be 'the same person' and not switch up her demands if Build Back Better is revived Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has a message for Democrats who fear she might move the goalposts on their economic agenda: she won't be switching up her demands. "What I can't tell you is if negotiations will start again or what they'll look like," Sinema said at an Arizona Chamber of Commerce event on Tuesday. "But what I can promise you is that I'll be the same person in negotiations if they start again that I was in negotiations last year." She emphasized again that she was opposed to raising taxes on large corporations, saying she wouldn't back "any tax policies that would put a brake on any type of economic growth or forestall business and personal growth for America's industries. You all know, the entire country knows, that I'm opposed to raising the corporate minimum tax rate," she said. A Sinema spokesperson clarified she was referring to raising tax rates on corporations and not backtracking from her past support of a 15% corporate minimum tax.
NLRB General Counsel Aggressively Seeks to Expand Unions’ Right to Demand Recognition; Restrict Employer Speech National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo continues to push the Board to take aggressive and unprecedented pro-labor stances, seeking to overturn decades of well-settled jurisprudence. On April 11, 2022, the General Counsel’s office filed a brief in Cemex Construction Materials Pacific, urging the Board to make two dramatic changes in current law under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or “the Act”). First, the General Counsel seeks to overturn the Board’s 52-year-old standard for obtaining a representation election, and to expand the ability of the Board to order an employer to bargain with a union even without its winning such an election. Second, she urges the Board to reverse decades of precedent and find that so-called “captive audience speeches” by employers violate the Act. Story
Newsom caught up in high-profile lawsuit [CalMatters] On Wednesday, Newsom’s first full day back at work after a family vacation to Central and South America, he signed into law a bill strengthening protections for patients undergoing treatment for substance use disorders. But that news was overshadowed by an explosive Bloomberg report that found a top lawyer for California’s anti-discrimination agency resigned Tuesday night, alleging that Newsom’s office was interfering in the agency’s sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit against video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. 
  • Melanie Proctor, assistant chief counsel for California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, also accused Newsom of abruptly firing her boss, chief counsel Janette Wipper. 
  • Proctor wrote in an email to colleagues obtained by Bloomberg: “The Office of the Governor repeatedly demanded advance notice of litigation strategy and of next steps in the litigation. As we continued to win in state court, this interference increased, mimicking the interests of Activision’s counsel. … Justice should be administered equally, not favoring those with political influence.” 
  • Erin Mellon, a Newsom spokesperson, told The Verge: “Claims of interference by our office are categorically false. The Newsom administration … will continue to support DFEH in their efforts to fight all forms of discrimination and protect Californians.”
  • A few weeks after the state filed its July 2021 discrimination lawsuit against Activision, board member Casey Wasserman donated $100,000 to Newsom’s anti-recall campaign, Politico reported Wednesday night. And as CalMatters political reporter Alexei Koseff noted, former Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg in September donated $25,000 to Newsom’s reelection campaign.

Thursday, March 31, 2022   WECA Political Update March 31, 2022

Manchin, Sinema, Kelly sink Biden labor nominee [Politico] David Weil’s bid to head the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division was dealt a fatal blow yesterday, after a trio of Senate Democrats voted against moving forward on his nomination. Weil, now the first Biden nominee to fail on the Senate floor, has faced heated opposition from Republicans and business groups dating back to his prior stint in the position for the Obama administration, meaning that he’d have likely needed unified Democratic support. The fate of the vote was still up in the air throughout Wednesday, as several key Democrats had been cagey about where they stood on Weil in recent days. Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly and Sen. Joe Manchin, three of the caucus’ moderates, voted against the procedural vote. The final vote count was 47-53 against invoking cloture. Weil’s defeat on the Senate floor is a major defeat for the Biden administration, which has prided itself on its labor agenda, and for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as leaders typically do not move items if they do not have the votes to pass. Shortly after the vote concluded, Senate HELP Chair Patty Murray issued a statement lamenting the failure of “an exceptionally qualified nominee with a long track record fighting to ensure workers get the wages they have earned.” Weil’s critics have faulted him for Obama-era policy moves on issues like independent contractor classification, joint employment designations and overtime pay, making him one of President Joe Biden’s most polarizing labor-related nominees. Several groups have been applying pressure on moderate Democrats like Sinema in hopes of tanking Weil’s nomination. The Senate HELP Committee deadlocked 11-11 on a vote last year to approve Weil. Lawmakers eventually voted to advance his nomination along party lines in January — aided by the absence of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at the time. The Biden administration will have to regroup and will likely consider putting forward a different nominee for the post.

California Fair Employment & Housing Council Proposes Sweeping Regulation of Automated Decision-making and Artificial Intelligence in Employment On March 15, 2022, the California Fair Employment & Housing Council released draft revisions to the state’s employment non-discrimination laws that would dramatically expand the liability exposure and obligations of employers and third-party vendors that use, sell, or administer employment-screening tools or services that embody artificial intelligence, machine learning, or other data-driven statistical processes to automate decision-making. Learn More

Biden Signs Executive Order Promoting Pay Equity and Transparency In addition to digesting OFCCP’s release of a new directive on compensation, government contractors may soon see new regulations around inquiries into and the use of prior salary information. In conjunction with Equal Pay Day, President Biden signed a new Executive Order on Advancing Economy, Efficiency, and Effectiveness in Federal Contracting by Promoting Pay Equity and Transparency. In the Order, President Biden directs the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor to “consider issuing proposed rules to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in Federal procurement by enhancing pay equity and transparency for job applicants and employees of Federal contractors and subcontractors.” Specifically, the President instructs the FAR Council to consider whether any such rules should limit or prohibit Federal contractors and subcontractors from seeking and considering information about job applicants’ and employees’ existing or past compensation when making employment decisions. Prohibitions on the reliance on prior salary history are not new, but up to this point have not been legislated at the federal level and have come through state and municipal action.

San Diego Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher Calls for Repeal of County PLA Ban During State of the County Speech Signaling how important construction union support is to Nathan Fletcher, he used the recent annual State of the County address to embrace the repeal of the County ban on PLAs for county construction. Speaking before an audience at the San Diego Continuing Education Center in the Mountain View neighborhood, he said he was there to talk “where we are, progress made and where we need to go.” The Ban on Project Labor Agreements in the San Diego County Charter ballot proposition was approved by 75.8% of county voters at the November 2, 2010 ballot. The ballot question was voted onto the ballot by a 4-1 vote of the San Diego Board of Supervisors. County supervisor Greg Cox voted against putting it on the ballot. San Diego County already had a county ordinance that banned PLAs. With the enactment of Proposition A in 2010, that ban became a part of the county charter. Proposition A says in part, "Except as required by state or federal law as a contracting or procurement obligation, or as a condition of the receipt of state or federal funds, the county shall not require a contractor on a construction project to execute or otherwise become a party to a project labor agreement as a condition of bidding, negotiating, awarding or performing of a contract." On October 2, 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 922, the first of several bills to prevent California cities and counties from banning government-mandated PLAs. You can read and watch Fletcher (if you have a strong stomach) here.

California Continues to Go to the Dogs On March 17, Rover—a digital application connecting pet owners with daily pet-care providers—argued to the Ninth Circuit that it should uphold a California federal judge’s finding that a dog-sitter was properly classified as an independent contractor. While maintaining that it passes the strict three-pronged “ABC test” Rover also asserted that it is a “referral agency” under the California Labor Code and is, therefore, subject to the 11-factor Borello test, which is less stringent than the ABC test and focuses on whether the hiring entity has the right to control the worker in both the work completed and in the manner and means in which the work is performed. Rover asserted that the individual pet-care provider’s control over their rates; cancellations; services provided – including when, where, how, and for whom those services are provided; and that Rover requires no exclusivity from pet-care providers indicate that the providers are independent contractors. Additionally, Rover argued that facilitating a direct connection between clients and pet-care providers is different from “directly and continuously providing those services.” Moreover, Rover urged that since the dog walker uses her own tools for her work—in an industry where she works separately from Rover and has only used Rover sporadically—she is primarily engaged in her own independent business endeavor. The appellant pet-care provider, however, claimed that Rover “exerts pressure” on providers to perform certain tasks while pet sitting, such as sharing photos with owners while providing services. Further, the pet-care provider contends that Rover’s 20% service fee gives the company effective control over the provider’s rates. Chances are, this case will eventually end up at SCOTUS.

13 vulnerable trifectas in ’22 Thirteen state government trifectas are vulnerable this year, according to our annual trifecta vulnerability ratings. Democrats are defending seven and Republicans are defending six. A state government trifecta exists when one party controls the governorship and both chambers of the legislature. There are currently 14 Democratic trifectas, 23 Republican trifectas, and 13 states with divided governments. Arizona is the only highly vulnerable Republican trifecta this year. Race forecasters have rated the gubernatorial election as a Toss-up, and Republicans have a one-seat majority in both the state House and Senate.


Thursday, March 17, 2022   WECA Political Update March 17, 2022

California increases inspection and compliance efforts on public projects The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has stepped up inspection of publicly funded construction sites in the state to ensure better worker compensation and compliance. In January, DIR announced its Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF) would lead a new initiative to ensure employers on those job sites provide workers’ compensation insurance and adhere to labor laws, such as skilled and trained workforce requirements, workplace health and safety requirements, and apprenticeship standards. The task force will also crack down on pay, as employers must pay all workers employed on qualifying public works projects the prevailing wage determined by the DIR according to the type of work performed and the property’s location. Story

CalSavers’ last deadline is June An important deadline is on the horizon for California business owners. By June 30, 2022, employers with five or more employees must have a retirement plan for workers — either through a private-market option, like a 401(k), or through the state-run CalSavers program.

EIDL deferment extended The U.S. Small Business Administration on Tuesday extended the deferment period for Covid-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans — a welcome relief for small businesses, private nonprofits, contractors, gig workers, and other borrowers affected by the pandemic, as well as severe winter storms in 2020. The move comes as outside groups press Congress to do more with the EIDL program, with a new report produced by the Bipartisan Policy Center and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices, recommending several policies.

‘I Did Not Pay Enough Fund’ Conscience dragging you down? Feel like your bank account is a little fuller than it should be? For Arizona contractors, apprentices and journeyworkers, there’s a way to lighten the load. Taxpayers in the Grand Canyon State who feel they didn’t pay enough taxes the previous year have a unique option to contribute more to state government — the “I Did Not Pay Enough Fund” option on their tax return forms. Surprisingly, each year hundreds of desert denizens willingly shell out some extra cash to this tongue-in-cheek program, writes Phoenix Business Journal’s Andy Blye. How much? A record 849 returns gave $25,700 last year.

No end in sight Senate Democrats rebuffed a Republican effort on Tuesday to terminate Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state of emergency, a nearly two-year-old invocation of the Emergency Services Act that has allowed Newsom to issue scores of executive orders. Republicans argued that as infections and deaths diminish (Tuesday’s infection rate was 1.5 %) and Newsom himself outlines a new phase of living with the virus, it’s time to move on and restore some balance of power with the Legislature. But, but, but, representatives of the California Professional Firefighters and the California Hospital Association said they still need the staffing, space, and emergency response flexibility to respond nimbly to new variants. Newsom made that same argument last month when he discarded a bevy of outstanding orders but kept a core few, writing of the need to maintain “robust testing and vaccination programs and protecting hospital capacity” and warning ending some provisions would “compound the effects of the emergency and impede the state’s recovery.” The outcome effectively functioned as a vote of confidence for Newsom’s COVID record. Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk said the governor had fumbled the response and cited the need to ensure “we don’t make the same mistakes again” when the inevitable next pandemic arrives. Democratic Sen. Bill Dodd countered that the “governor got it right” and “continues to get it right.” A heavyweight coalition of organized labor and local government representatives was arrayed against the resolution to end Newsom’s order. But that doesn’t mean the matter is closed. Democratic Sen. Ben Allen said nixing the emergency declaration “would hinder our ability” to control COVID but allowed “it’s important that this be ended at some point.” When Allen pressed California Professional Firefighters President Brian Rice on when the emergency should conclude, Rice deferred to the Newsom administration, saying we “need to rely on the leaders who have led us so far.” Allen ultimately held off rather than join his colleagues in voting against the resolution, as did Sen. Steve Glazer. Tuesday’s hearing hinted that the Legislature’s appetite for some sort of concrete endpoint could transcend party divides. [Politico]

PAGA Reform – where art thou? Pushback to California’s strict worker protection laws is going to the U.S. Supreme Court. Later this month, the nation’s highest court is slated to hear a case that could overturn a California law allowing workers to sue their employers for violating state labor regulations, such as not paying minimum wage or granting required meal and rest breaks, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The law, known as PAGA — the Private Attorneys General Act — was California’s way of blocking companies from requiring workers to settle such disputes out of court and in private arbitration. But many businesses oppose PAGA and say it violates federal law. At stake: lots of money and workers’ ability to hold employers accountable.
  • Paul Clement, an attorney representing Viking River Cruises, the defendant in the PAGA case before the Supreme Court: PAGA lawsuits are “extracting millions of dollars from employers … (as) another tax for doing business in California.”
  • Attorney General Rob Bonta: PAGA is essential in “ensuring the fair and legal treatment of some of the state’s most vulnerable workers, including those in the agricultural, garment, and frontline service industries.”
  • Further complicating matters: Californians for Fair Pay and Accountability, composed of prominent unions and business groups, is collecting signatures for a 2022 ballot measure to repeal PAGA.
Romney Gets a Challenger? Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who backed Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election results, is preparing for a 2024 Senate run that could pit him against Sen. Mitt Romney in a GOP primary. Reyes, who has been elected statewide three times, in recent weeks, has discussed the matter with critical players in Utah politics and with allies of the former president, according to a person who is familiar with Reyes’ plans. Reyes is likely to make an official announcement in May. [Politico]

How much would CalCare have cost? California’s plan to enact a single-payer health care system lovingly called CalCare (more accurately perhaps, CalBankruptcy) would have cost the state between $494 billion and $552 billion a year, according to a Legislative Analyst’s Office analysis.

Dems propose a $400 rebate Every California taxpayer would get a $400 refund to help cover the skyrocketing price of gas under a proposal a group of Democratic lawmakers (and one independent) is set to unveil today. The rebates would be funded using $9 billion of California’s massive budget surplus and sent to every tax filer “because all Californians have seen an increase in living expenses,” the 11 legislators said. “Consistent with the state’s values as the global leader in combatting climate change, this will ensure that the rebate includes taxpayers who use public transit, active transportation options, and zero-emission vehicles.”

UC legislation exposed Capitol’s bad habits Dan Walters writes, “Gavin Newsom and state legislators let loose a torrent of self-congratulations this week for acting quickly to protect the University of California from having to limit enrollment at its flagship Berkeley campus. Instead, they should have apologized because what they did encapsulated several of the Capitol’s most worrisome tendencies.” Story

How likely is a new, improved CEQA? Related to the above, the New York Times covered the Legislature’s “swift action” to preserve new enrollments at UC Berkeley. They interviewed UC Davis professor and land use expert Chris Elmendorf. He said, “The building trade unions, which are a powerful lobby, have fought off pretty much any substantial change to CEQA for a long time because it is very useful for threatening developers who don’t sign project labor agreements.” Story

WEI OUT Angie Wei left the Newsom administration and will be succeeded as legislative affairs secretary by lobbyist and gubernatorial administration veteran Christy Bouma, who most recently has been at Capitol Connections (its prominent clients include the California Professional Firefighters, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association and the Consumer Attorneys of California). Before joining Team Newsom, Wei was an executive at the powerful California Labor Federation. She was appointed to the WCAB and is expected the join the UFCW.

Friday, March 04, 2022   WECA Political Update March 4, 2022

Join Richard Markuson of WECA Government Affairs for a new quarterly call-in series for WECA Member Contractors

First call-in March 9 at 9 a.m.

Stay up-to-date on all things political at the state, local and federal levels with a new quarterly call-in series hosted by Richard Markuson of WECA Government Affairs.

The first call-in will take place on March 9 at 9 a.m. If you have a particular question you would like to ask during the call-in, please submit it via email at richard@pacificadvocacygroup.com the Friday before the Zoom call.

Access the call here:

Meeting ID: 861 4407 7242
Passcode: 841151

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Or find your local number here.

We look forward to talking with you!


Solar Initiative Scrapped Proponents of two ballot initiatives that would block the CPUC’s proposal to slash rooftop solar installation incentives have scrapped their effort. The withdrawal takes a political threat to electric utilities off the table, albeit one that wouldn’t have likely qualified in time for the November election. Initiatives are often deployed to force legislative talks on an issue, but no such measure has emerged since the bill introduction deadline nearly two weeks ago. Last Tuesday, the Solar Rights Alliance quietly withdrew its two initiatives from the attorney general’s office. Dave Rosenfeld, the organization’s executive director, told POLITICO that given the CPUC’s decision last month to delay its vote on net metering reforms indefinitely “and the uncertainty created by that delay, it does not make sense to gather signatures for a ballot measure at this point.” If the initiatives hadn’t been withdrawn, they would have been subject to a joint analysis later this week by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance on the measures’ impacts on state and local government finances. “We are watching the CPUC very closely and hope they use this time to listen to the experts as well as the overwhelming public sentiment on this issue to reject a solar tax and keep rooftop solar growing and affordable for everyday Californians,” he said of the agency’s draft plan to levy a monthly fee on solar owners and reduce their bill credits for excess electricity generated by their photovoltaic panels. Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson for the coalition of utilities and others supporting net metering reforms, said in a statement that the initiatives would have locked in a solar incentives program that she said “hurts low-income and disadvantaged communities” in which residents are less likely to have solar panels and thus pay higher electric bills. Rosenfeld noted that if the CPUC doesn’t end up “listening to the people” with its final proposal, his group will be “ready with a powerful grassroots movement marching under the banner of the Solar Bill of Rights.” [Politico]
Small Business Day Small businesses and job creators frequently fail to attract the attention of lawmakers – drowned out by labor unions and big business lobbyists. The NFIB has invited small business owners to virtually meet elected officials in Sacramento on California’s Small Business Day on March 8th, 2022, from 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM. Click here to Register for Small Business Day in California. There is no cost to attend the event (but you will undoubtedly be invited to join NFIB).
California Employers Can Make Reasoned Choices as State Reduces Formal Workplace Masking Requirements Effective March 1, 2022, there is no longer a hard requirement under the Cal/OSHA statewide Emergency Temporary Standard (CA ETS) or any other statewide requirement for employers to require unvaccinated persons (or fully vaccinated persons) to mask indoors at work. Instead, the masking requirement applies only in specified settings such as health care, K-12 schools, childcare facilities, long-term care settings, and others. Presently, no such hard requirement is applicable in most (but not all) local jurisdictions after March 1, as many local jurisdictions responded by aligning with the new statewide standards. Learn more and more.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will not run for the U.S. Senate in 2022. Republican Doug Ducey will not run for the U.S. Senate this year, he told donors in a letter obtained by The Arizona Republic, finally determining whether he held aspirations for elected office this cycle. Ducey’s announcement to some of his closest financial allies ends the long-running effort by national and local Republican leaders and deep-pocketed donors to recruit him for the race against Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), whose reelection could decide which party controls the evenly divided chamber. Defeated former President Donald Trump has made Ducey a frequent target since the governor certified Trump’s losing election results. Not surprisingly, that continued Thursday, when Trump tried to take credit for Ducey’s decision not to seek the Senate seat. In a statement, the former president pointed to this week’s primary successes in Texas, where his endorsements proved influential. Story
Biden touts charging network expansion in SOTU amid 85% jump in 2021 U.S. E.V. sales; Will IBEW reap the benefits? Along with developing an E.V. charging network, Biden also called for investment tax credits to weatherize homes and make businesses more energy-efficient and for the nation to double its clean energy production, including wind and solar. The president also focused on the potential for electric vehicles to help fuel a resurgence in U.S. manufacturing. But surprising no one, IBEW has inserted EVITP mandates in HR 6662 by Rep. Nanette Barragán (CA46) that “not less than 40 percent of the employees [installing chargers] hold an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program certification.” He also urged passage of the PRO Act. In his speech, he specifically called for passage of the PRO Act; “Let’s pass the PRO Act. When a majority of workers want to form a union, they shouldn’t be able to be stopped.” CDW’s statement on the speech can be found here.
SB 114: California’s COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Revived On February 9, 2022, California Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 114 (SB 114) into law to re-enact the state’s COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave, effective February 19, 2022, but with key differences from prior supplemental paid sick leave law (S.B. 95). SB 114, which applies retroactively to January 1, 2022, requires employers with 26 or more employees to provide eligible employees with up to 80 hours of supplemental sick leave through September 30, 2022. More here. On February 16, the Labor Commissioner issued the new model notice, available here.
In at least three states, voters will decide legislative proposals to change citizen-initiated ballot measure processes this year. Legislatures in Arizona, Arkansas, and South Dakota have passed constitutional amendments on ballot initiatives. All three states are Republican trifectas. Here’s a quick recap.
  • In Arizona, voters will decide two constitutional amendments at the general election in November. Republicans in the legislature backed two proposals that would change the ballot initiative process. Legislative Democrats opposed both.
  • One will allow legislators to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives if any portion has been declared unconstitutional or invalid by the Arizona Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court. Currently, the Legislature cannot amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives due to Proposition 105 (1998), also known as the Voter Protection Act, except for changes that further a measure’s purpose and receive a three-fourths vote in each legislative chamber. 
  • The other amendment in Arizona would add a provision to the state constitution that requires citizen-initiated ballot measures to embrace a single subject. Based on a 2017 state Supreme Court ruling, the state constitution’s existing single-subject rule applies to legislative bills but not citizen-initiated measures.
How many U.S. Senators have announced their retirements so far this cycle? U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) announced last week that he would retire on January 3, 2023, triggering a special election this November. With his announcement, Inhofe became one of several senators who announced their retirements this cycle, the largest number recorded since 2012.
How many U.S. Senators have announced their retirements so far this cycle?
1.     3
2.     16
3.     7
4.     12