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Thursday, February 18, 2021   WECA Political Update February 18, 2021

BizFed's Third Annual Sacramento Week: An Invitation from Richard Markuson to our Central Valley-based Member Contractors:

Want to make the collective voices of WECA Member Contractors in California's Central Valley heard? Now's your chance--join Richard Markuson of WECA Government Affairs for what BizFed has termed "a powerful tradiiton of BizFed and its members advocating at the Capitol." BizFed is hosting a "series of brief yet powerful subject matter forums along with legislator access sessions, and media insights."

It's not an event you want to miss! The event includes:
  • Access to the 4-day event
  • 5 issue forums with ranking legislators
  • Small group meetings with key legislators
  • And a closing reception
But, there's a caveat. WECA has only two tickets (a $250 value) available, so Richard can only bring two WECA Member Contractors with him, and we're extending this opportunity to our Central Valley-based members only. So if you'd like to see the interests of California's Central Valley merit shop contractors acknowledged in Sacramento, now's your chance to make a difference.

If you'd like to attend this virtual event with and make your voice heard, email Richard at rmarkuson@goweca.com as soon as possible to claim your spot!


Joint Merit Shop Legislative Conference

An invitation to all WECA Member Contractors from Richard Markuson: Take this opportunity to register to make your voice heard on behalf of your company and the merit shop industry and join Richard, virtually at the Capitol, for this online event on March 17 & 18, 2021.


Biden Calls Union Reps 'Real Friends,' Seeks Their Infrastructure Input President Joe Biden on Wednesday met with union leaders to get input on his forthcoming infrastructure plan, while nominating a new head of the National Labor Relations Board and rolling back a Trump-era apprenticeship program. Among those present were several heads of construction-related unions including Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO; Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions; and Lonnie R. Stephenson, the international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who served on Biden’s transition advisory board. Story

State COVID Website Only a year into the pandemic, the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency launched SaferAtWork.covid19.ca.gov, a website for California employers to "find up-to-date state and local county COVID-19 guidance by business industry.' The agency says employers answer questions on "business type, location and current COVID-19 practices to generate a tailored road map of relevant information, links to resources and more." It also says "the portal is for educational purposes and will not be used for state enforcement activities."

State’s Progress on Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) Goals: Q4 2020 Results According to the latest new vehicle data from California New Car Dealers Association, total new light vehicle registrations in 2020 were down 22% for the year as a result of the economic shutdowns, but total sales exceeded those during the Great Recession in each of the years between 2008 and 2012. This sales performance reflects the different effects coming from the state’s shutdown actions, with many higher wage jobs unaffected due to telecommuting. As a consequence, local government sales tax revenues from these sales were less affected than previously feared. Under Executive Order N-79-20, the governor mandated all new vehicles offered for sale in the state to be ZEVs by 2035 for light duty cars and trucks, and by 2045 for heavy and medium duty vehicles. In spite of the substantial but as-yet unknown costs and other effects of this action, the state agencies are now moving ahead to implement this order using the blanket authorities given to them by the legislature under the climate change program. Story

Fracking Ban From Politico: “[Governor] Newsom asked lawmakers back in September to send him a bill banning fracking. They did on Wednesday, … and the governor wanted nothing to do with it. Sens. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), introduced SB467, that would ban new hydraulic fracturing permits; Newsom declined to comment on the bill. He deflected a question on his position by saying he hadn’t read the bill and couldn’t weigh in. At a press conference at a farmworker vaccination site in the Coachella Valley, a reporter asked him whether he supported the bill, a question he avoided entirely. ‘God bless, forgive me, I’m really honored to be here,’ Newsom said — a response underscoring that a fracking fight presents politically hazardous terrain for the governor. The move signals that Newsom is trying to walk a political tightrope as the threat of a recall election looms on the horizon. If he supports the bill, he risks creating ammunition for conservatives working to recall him, as well as angering labor unions representing oil and gas workers. If he doesn’t support the bill, he risks alienating environmental groups — some of whom have already threatened legal action over his approval of fracking permits. Democratic strategist Steven Maviglio: ‘He’s had a frosty relationship with the environmental community, the environmental justice community in particular. Campaign promises sometimes catch up with you.’ The State Building and Construction Trade Council of California were quick to react; ‘In a frenzied effort to ingratiate themselves to extremist coastal elite political agendas, Senators Wiener and Limón are risking the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of blue-collar families and a doubling of the cost to get to work and school, all without a benefit to the environment,’ Building Trades President Robbie Hunter said in a statement.”

California Dramatically Expands Leave Rights under the Family Rights Act The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides most employees in California with the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave from work to care for themselves or their family members with a serious health condition or to bond with a new child. Effective January 1, 2021, recent legislation (Senate Bill 1383) dramatically expands the CFRA in several major respects. Until December 31, 2020, the CFRA applied only to private employers of 50 or more employees. As of January 1, 2021, the CFRA applies to private employers of 5 or more employees. Because of this expansion, California has repealed its New Parent Leave Act, which had provided similar coverage to employers with 20 to 49 employees. Story

California Supreme Court Clarifies Dynamex’s “ABC” Test, Concluding that Independent Contractor Status Applies Retroactively The California Supreme Court recently issued a decision clarifying that the ABC test for determining independent contractor status does indeed apply retroactively. Story

Scabby Gets a Lifeline The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) often found the use of the inflatable rat to be lawful under labor law over the years, but former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb sought to put an end to them last fall. Robb, however, was unceremoniously terminated by President Biden on his inauguration day. The new, acting General Counsel Peter Sung Ohr apparently has a different view of these eye sores. According to a new report from Bloomberg Law: “The National Labor Relations Board’s acting general counsel is seeking to end Trump-era complaints over unions’ use of Scabby the Rat, a large inflatable balloon often present at labor protests. General Counsel Peter Ohr’s office has asked the board to send at least two complaints issued by Ohr’s predecessor, Peter Robb, back to the regional directors with which they were originally filed, so they can be dropped. Robb aggressively prosecuted unions for deploying the rodent in demonstrations against someone other than their direct employer, arguing it’s unlawful secondary picketing not protected by the First Amendment. ‘Such pursuit is a waste of valuable Agency resources and not in the public interest,’ Ohr’s office wrote in the two motions.” Story


Thursday, February 04, 2021   WECA Political Update February 4, 2021

What a Marty Walsh-led Labor Department could mean for construction When Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a former construction union leader, appears before a Senate committee this morning in the first round of hearings for his nomination as Secretary of Labor, it's likely many in the construction industry will be wondering how he might influence the federal policies and regulations under which they work. AGC and ABC agree that Walsh’s construction experience is a plus when it comes to understanding the needs of the industry. Story

Democrats Reintroduce the PRO Act Today, Senators Murray (D-WA) and Schumer (D-NY) and Representative Scott (D-VA) reintroduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The members released text of the bill, a section-by-section analysis, and a fact sheet. The bill has 194 cosponsors, including two Republicans – Smith (NJ-4) and Fitzpatrick (PA-1). This bill includes over a dozen radical provisions drastically altering federal labor law and will devastate the economy during an already difficult time.

California Publishes User Guide and Templates for Pay Data Reporting SB 973 requires employers that (1) file EEO-1 reports and (2) employ more than 100 employees to submit data to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) annually that shows pay by race and gender for their California employees. It was signed into law on September 30, 2020, and DFEH has been busy providing guidance to employers and preparing the pay data reporting portal. Additional — perhaps final — guidance was released on February 1. DFEH posted FAQs addressing Professional Employer Organizations and Acquisitions, Mergers, and Spinoffs. It also released a 68-page User Guide that discuss the mechanics of data submission and provided templates (both in Excel and CSV format) to assist employers in submitting their required pay data.

Biden chooses Su as Deputy Labor Secretary According to Politico, President Joe Biden has offered Julie Su, who is the Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary, the role of US Deputy Labor secretary, and she has accepted. Su was among those initially floated for Labor secretary. But Biden nominated former Boston Building Trades Boss, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, whose confirmation hearing is on Thursday. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Su served as the state’s labor commissioner for about eight years before becoming its labor secretary. Prior to that, she spearheaded litigation at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a legal aid organization in Los Angeles. The announcement is expected sometime next week, one of the people said. If confirmed, Su would step into the job at a critical point for American labor, with millions of people out of work and a narrowly divided Congress poised to stand in the way of Biden's major legislative initiatives. Still, the Labor Department has the power to enact regulatory changes that can make the workplace safer and empower employees. Su is likely to face questions in her confirmation hearing about her role in an explosive unemployment fraud story plaguing California; she estimated during a press call last week that the state’s unemployment department, which she oversees, had issued at least $11 billion in fraudulent payments last year. Two state audits released last week about the Employment Development Department pointed to a series of “missteps” last spring that opened the door to fraud, including a decision to shut off a stop-payment safeguard in an effort to speed payments. Her selection is likely to somewhat appease Asian American Pacific Island advocates, who lobbied heavily for Su's selection as Labor Secretary and were disappointed when the role went to a white male. The role of deputy Labor secretary takes on outsize importance as Biden looks to resuscitate a limping job market that has seen the pandemic stoke permanent losses and compromise worker safety.

The Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act Proposes Aid to Union Pension Plans. Taxpayers would foot the bill (HR 423) if passed by Congress and signed by Biden. Of the 1,400 MEPS, 125 funds are in “critical and declining” (you can see the plans on the DOLs website) status that are projected to be insolvent within 20 years and some much sooner. Seven plans failed in the past year when they became insolvent or terminated after all the employers withdrew. And up to 12 more plans covering 245,000 participants signaled in filings with the U.S. Department of Labor that they are likely to fail by the end of this year. The plans are sponsored by union locals covering truck drivers, bricklayers and other workers. Story

Newsom will wait to announce California AG until Becerra Confirmed Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed that he will wait until Attorney General Xavier Becerra is confirmed as President Joe Biden's Health and Human Services secretary before announcing a replacement. "I'm very close to making that decision," Newsom said, but "our current attorney general is still the current attorney general, has not been formally confirmed by the United States Senate, and so the timing of a public announcement will be determined on the basis of that confirmation." But Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank.) wants to be our next attorney general—and he has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ’s blessing, according to Politico. Schiff, a Harvard Law School graduate and former prosecutor who currently serves as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has lobbied California Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint him to the role, those individuals said. Pelosi has been advocating for Schiff’s appointment on his behalf, said people familiar with the matter.

Newsom has called a special election for the 79th Assembly District seat — a safely Democratic San Diego-area seat formerly held by Secretary of State Shirley Weber before she was appointed to her current gig. The primary is set for April 6, with the general election on June 8, 2021 if no one breaks a majority.

Brief Filed in Support of Request for Review in Amazon.com Services CDW filed an amicus brief with the NLRB in support of Amazon’s Request for Review of a Regional Director’s decision dealing with a representation election at an Amazon facility in Alabama. The brief calls on the Board to grant Amazon’s Request for Review and Motion to Stay the election in order to consider the dangers of allowing increased use of electronic voting in union representation elections and provide clarity on when electronic voting will be used moving forward. The brief explains that NLRB precedent strongly favors manual elections, since participation rates in mail-ballot elections are consistently lower than those seen during manual voting. CDW also calls on the NLRB to provide clarity on when the Board and Regional Directors will determine mail-ballot elections are required, including defining what qualifies as a COVID-19 “outbreak.” Finally, CDW cautions the Board against its increased tolerance of electronic voting methods. The statement on the brief can be viewed here.

Rep. Levin Introduced Electronic Voting Legislation Earlier this month, Rep. Levin (D-MI) introduced H.R. 308, which directs the NLRB “to implement a system and procedures to conduct representation elections remotely using an electronic voting system.” It would:

·        allow union organizers to bypass secret ballot elections and coerce workers into supporting unionization;
·        have a negative impact on participation rates in union elections, since electronic voting routinely results in lower participation rates among workers, as compared to in-person voting; and
·        increase fraud and potential identify theft due to the inability to authenticate who potential voters are and lack of cybersecurity protocols.

The bill already has 77 cosponsors, including four Republicans – Fitzpatrick (PA), Bacon (NE), McKinley (WV), and Smith (NJ). CDW’s statement on the bill can be viewed here.

House Republicans Press Biden Admin for an Explanation on Robb Termination On Feb. 2, Reps. Comer (R-KY), Foxx (R-NC), Walberg (R-MI), and Cloud (R-TX) sent a letter to the White House requesting additional information on the administration’s unprecedented decision to fire NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb and his subordinate Alice Stock. The letter questioned if the administration’s decision was influenced by two labor organizations (SEIU and CWA) that pushed the administration on Robb’s termination. The White House has said it will “respond appropriately to the letter” but claimed there was “broad consensus that these individuals were not carrying out the objectives of the NLRB.”

Acting GC Ohr Rescinds Ten Directives On Feb. 1, Acting NLRB General Counsel Peter Ohr rescinded ten guidance memos issued by Trump-era General Counsel Peter Robb. In a memo on the move, Ohr claimed the memos were “inconsistent” with the goal of the NLRA to encourage collective bargaining, were obsolete, or were contrary to Board law. The order included, among other things, policies on unions’ notification requirements to members, unions’ fair-representation obligations, and handbook policies

Timing is Everything CNN reported “In a sign of how contentious things have become, this week an effort by union officials to schedule a ‘vote of no confidence’ against the department’s top three leaders triggered a round of recriminations from officers who criticized the timing of the move, claiming it was inappropriate and overshadowed the memorial services this week for their slain colleague, Brian Sicknick, whose remains lay in honor at the Capitol this week.”

And since all life is not entirely political…

At least 13 Politicians have played in the Super Bowl Super Bowl week is here. So, let’s see, Super Bowl and politics...how can we bring the two together? How about exploring which political figures have ever played in a Super Bowl? Ballotpedia identified 13 people who played in at least one Super Bowl from 1970 to 2010 before running for elected office or serving in government. The first Super Bowl was played in 1967. Of those 13, Lynn Swann of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Alan Page of the Minnesota Vikings made the most Super Bowl appearances with four each. Swann ran for governor of Pennsylvania in 2006, and Page was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992, where he served until reaching the court's mandatory retirement age in 2015. These 13 Super Bowl participants ran for office in 11 different states—Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Of the 13, six are current political figures, including two in the U.S. House—Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and Burgess Owens (R-Utah). Eight of the politicians who played in the Super Bowl ran as Republicans, and two ran as Democrats. Three served in offices that were officially nonpartisan. Nine of these 13 Super Bowl players were elected. Three were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, one to a state Senate district, one to a state supreme court, one to a local court, one to a county council, one to a county commission, and one to a mayoral office. The full list is presented in the chart below.


Thursday, January 21, 2021   WECA Political Update January 21, 2021

Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy
California Senate Republicans Replace Sen. Shannon Grove as Leader

Per various sources – State Sen. Shannon Grove of Bakersfield was replaced Wednesday as the leader of the California Senate Republicans after having served in the position for two years. Grove will be succeeded by state Sen. Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita. Her ouster as leader by the Senate Republican Caucus came after two of its 11 seats changed hands in the November election. “California is facing unprecedented challenges and Senate Republicans stand ready with solutions,” Wilk said in a statement. “For everyday Californians there is no greater priority than the pandemic — the health crisis it has created, its economic devastation and educational challenges for our students.” Per Politico, “In trading Grove for Wilk, Republicans are opting for a more moderate choice. Wilk periodically votes with Democrats, and he has scored rare endorsements from organized labor — the types of connections that could increase his clout in a Capitol dominated by Democrats.” (HA!) “He just won back a battleground seat, thanks in part to massive spending by the California Republican Party and interest groups, and he is termed out in 2024. Dissatisfaction with Grove’s leadership was already mounting after Senate Republicans lost two seats this election even as California Republicans picked up multiple House seats, shriveling the Senate GOP caucus to just nine members. Grove exacerbated the situation with a tweet blaming the U.S. Capitol riots on Antifa.”

CSLB Launches Online Payment for Citations

To make paying for CSLB-issued citations easier, licensees and non-licensees now have the option to either make citation payments online via CSLB’s website or submit them by mail. For those who want to pay online, visit CSLB’s website, select “Online Services,” and then click on “Citation Payment.” All you need is your citation number and a credit card (Visa or MasterCard only) and to follow the simple prompts on the screen. Please note that there is a 2.99% processing fee.

PBGC Simplifies Calculation of Liability for Withdrawal from Multiemployer Pension Plans

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) recently issued a final rule intended to simplify the calculation of withdrawal liability for multiemployer plans that have adopted benefit reductions, benefit suspensions, surcharges, and contribution increases. Story

Other News and Views

SD Congressman Who Went to Prison for Bribery Gets a Pardon

Per Voice of San Diego: “As one of his final acts in office, President Donald Trump pardoned former Rep. Duke Cunningham. He served a chunk of northern San Diego in Congress during the 1990s and early 2000s, then served eight years in prison. Cunningham pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion for taking $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for Defense Department contracts. As City News explained it, the bribes were paid not only in cash but through rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees, boat repairs and more. The former prosecutor who put Cunningham behind bars told the Union-Tribune that he was “appalled” by Trump’s decision to pardon an assortment of ‘political cronies.’ Trump also pardoned former SD Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife Margaret Hunter last month.”

How The Biden Administration’s Big Policy Shifts Will Play in California

After the ceremonies and the scaled-back parade, Mr. Biden got to work. He signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations aimed squarely at undoing a number of Trump policies. Story. You can read the 17 actions here.

California Cabinet Collection

The Biden administration will, in addition to the Vice President, include several other Californians: pending confirmation, his cabinet will include Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Small Business Administration head Isabel Guzman. Yesterday, Biden named California Energy Commissioner Janea Scott a counselor to the Interior secretary. San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten got the nod to be number two at the U.S. Department of Education.

Peter Robb Forced Out as NLRB General Counsel Upon assuming office, President Biden immediately asked for the resignation of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb (R). Robb refused to resign and Biden fired him later in the day. The termination is unprecedented and possibly unlawful. The role of General Counsel is now open for Biden’s own nomination, but the eventual candidate will need to be confirmed by the closely divided Senate. Per Bloomberg, “His term was slated to last until this coming November, but unions, including the Service Employees International Union and Communications Workers of America, have been urging Biden to break with precedent by forcing him out immediately, in order to begin reorienting the agency toward protecting workers.”

DOL Leadership Team Released The Department of Labor has updated its leadership team roster, which can be viewed here. The list also includes various individuals in acting roles, who will eventually be replaced by Senate-confirmed individuals. The list will be updated as new individuals assume offices.

Environmental Rule Changes Coming for Construction Sites

Per ENR, “Construction projects could be impacted by the review and possible rollback of more than 100 regulations that face scrutiny under a day 1 executive order signed by President Joe Biden. But industry officials say such reviews are par for the course and are withholding judgment on any potential changes until they actually happen.” Story
How to boost Instagram engagement with hashtags

Do you use Instagram to promote your projects or accomplishments? Utilizing strong hashtags in Instagram campaigns can significantly boost engagement and even make it viral, while the wrong selection can backfire and hurt a brand's response and reputation, writes Rafaella Aguiar. She offers pointers on hashtag numbers, placement and tracking and urges marketers to "avoid anything that's suspicious, spammy or just plain irrelevant." Story

Department of Energy Announces New Senior Leaders-To Include IBEW/NECA - Los Angeles Director The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced new Biden-Harris Administration senior leadership appointees. These new leaders will direct policy at DOE, coordinate across the Administration, and enact President Joe Biden’s vision for bold action on the climate crisis and on safeguarding the Americans most affected by it. These experienced professionals reflect President Biden’s pledge to equip his Administration with a team that represents America’s diversity. One of the appointees, Jennifer Jean Kropke, served as the first Director of Workforce and Environmental Engagement for IBEW Local Union 11 and the National Electrical Contractors’ Association- Los Angeles’ Labor Management Cooperation Committee. She focused on creating clean energy, port electrification, and zero emission transportation opportunities for union members. She is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law.

Thursday, January 07, 2021   WECA Political Update January 7, 2021

Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy
Late-Breaking News:

Biden chooses Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary

According to Politico, President-elect Joe Biden has picked Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, the former head of the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council, to serve as his Labor secretary, ending a selection process that split the labor movement and stoked diversity concerns among Democrats. Walsh beat out a host of other names floated for the position, including Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.), former Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris, California Labor Secretary Julie Su and AFL-CIO Chief Economist Bill Spriggs. His selection suggests that Biden was willing to overlook calls for a diversity choice, since Walsh is a white man, and Asian American and Pacific Islanders had been lobbying heavily for Su. Spriggs is Black. Biden was widely expected to choose a Labor Department head who enjoyed the support of unions, given the president-elect's long-standing ties with labor leaders, his support for the right to organize and the key role the agency will play in implementing the sweeping pro-worker agenda he campaigned on. Walsh and Biden also have strong personal ties. Not only did Biden speak at the mayor’s 2017 inauguration, but the two have been spotted together in Boston at the anniversary of the marathon bombings, at a Stop & Shop workers rally, and at dinner.

Governor Newsom to Propose $4.5 Billion for Equitable Recovery for California’s Businesses and Jobs in 2021 Budget

He previewed his plan in advance of the release of his 2021-22 State Budget. If you have time, you can watch the Governor provide a brief overview of his plan here.

Workforce Development Among its other provisions, the Budget proposes one-time and ongoing investments totaling $353 million to support California’s workers. “These investments lift up proven workforce development strategies like apprenticeship and High-Road Training Partnerships and encourage greater collaboration and coordination among California's institutions of higher learning and local workforce partners. Demand-driven workforce programs can help California train the workforce of the future in key sectors including health care and technology.”

Other elements of the plan:

Small Business Grants - $575 million – unclear how much will go to out-of-state, or prison-based small businesses.

California Jobs Initiative - a $777.5 million proposal, focuses on job creation and retention, regional development, small businesses and climate innovation

Fee Waivers - $70.6 million for fee waivers to individuals and businesses most impacted by the pandemic

Deferred Maintenance - a $300 million one-time General Fund expenditure for the most critical statewide deferred maintenance

Housing - Through the Infill Infrastructure Grant (IIG) Program, he proposes $500 million to create jobs and long-term housing development to unlock more than 7,500 new permanently affordable homes for Californians.

But the BIG winner!

Zero-Emission Vehicles and Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure – his budget proposes $1.5 billion to encourage rich Californians to buy more zero-emission vehicles and provide the charging/fueling infrastructure (using EVITP certified electricians). Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who recently launched a gubernatorial exploratory committee, excoriated Newsom’s proposal Tuesday. “In the middle of a pandemic and deep recession, California’s highest priority should not be zero-emission vehicles. We need K-12 education at the top of the list.” But the Sierra Club was happy. “It signals the governor is serious about transitioning away from fossil fuel vehicles and the pollution they create. But we need to look at the details.”

Details to follow when he releases his budget next week.

Hunger Games (Update)

Now that Kamala Harris’s election as Vice-President has been certified and she will be leaving the US Senate, Governor Newsom has picked his replacement – Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Several capitol insiders have wondered why Harris didn’t resign her seat before now – which would have given Padilla more seniority over the newly elected Senators – but I haven’t heard any plausible explanation.

Secretary of State

Since Newson picked Padilla for the Senate (he picked San Diego Assembly Member Shirley Weber as SoS), a special election for Weber’s Assembly seat will be triggered. Two Assembly Members who had already announced plans to run in 2022 (Gonzalez and Chiu) will now have to look elsewhere.

California Attorney General

And since the US Senate will now have a Democratic majority, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s appointment as Health and Human Services Secretary.is likely to be confirmed. Governor Newsom gets to pick a new AG. Rumors are rampant about which constituency Newsom will attempt to mollify with THIS appointment.

Other News and Views

Dems Edge Closer to in Senate Control, Raising Stakes for Construction

“Our livelihoods are riding on Georgia,” said Kristen Swearington, vice president of legislative and political affairs at Associated Builders and Contractors. “No pressure down there, right?” Story Democratic control of the Senate should also ensure California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will clear confirmation for U.S. Health and Human Services secretary. The US Chamber recently released "Implications of 50-50 Senate and Closely Divided House" that highlights the Chamber’s initial take on the implications of this outcome.

California in Bottom Ranking of Merit Shop States

Alaska, California, Illinois and Washington are in the bottom tier of states, each receiving F ratings in project labor agreements, prevailing wage and right-to-work policies for the sixth year in a row. Story

New lawsuit could delay UC Davis’ $1.1 billion Aggie Square project in Sacramento

A Sacramento community group has filed a lawsuit that could delay or kill UC Davis’ $1.1 billion Aggie Square project, set to start construction next year near Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood. Story

Study: Construction Has the Highest COVID-19 Rate of Nearly Any Industry

A new study tracking the results of more than 730,000 COVID-19 tests found that construction workers had the highest positivity rates for asymptomatic cases of any occupation, including healthcare staff, first responders, correctional personnel, elderly care workers, grocery store workers and food service employees. Story

Los Angeles Is Paying $130,000 For An 8-Foot-By-8-Foot Shed to House the Homeless

In other cities, 64-square-foot aluminum and composite sheds are being used as quick and inexpensive emergency shelter for homeless people. Not in Los Angeles. Here, plans to employ the minimalist structures, known as “tiny homes,” have blossomed into expensive development projects with access roads, underground utilities and concrete foundations — and commensurate planning delays. At the city’s first tiny home village, scheduled to open in January, each of the 39 closet-sized homes is costing $130,000, about 10 times what some other cities are spending. Five more villages are planned to open later. Story

Projected EDD Fraud Hits $4 billion

The recent revelation that California’s unemployment department may have paid nearly $100 million in fraudulent claims to out-of-state jail and prison inmates has pushed the projected scope of fraudulent payments to $4 billion — double the amount prosecutors had previously estimated. According to an analysis reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, more than 2,000 of the high-risk claims were filed under the names of inmates in Florida prisons or jails — including that of a convicted murderer who allegedly received nearly $11,000 in payments. The news came a day after EDD suspended payment on an unspecified number of claims in an attempt to mitigate fraud — and a Sacramento man on probation was charged with nine counts of felony EDD fraud after scamming the department for $219,000. Dan Walters summed it up “’Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic’ is an overworked cliché, but it certainly applies to California’s Employment Development Department. The name itself is a farce. There’s no evidence that EDD ever developed any jobs, other than employing thousands of bureaucrats to pay out unemployment insurance benefits — and that’s been a titanic disaster.” Story

Newsom appointed a new EDD director  last month. But “every month there’s a new E.D.D. fiasco,” State Senator Scott Wiener told The San Francisco Chronicle, adding that he had received at least 50 complaints in recent days from constituents whose accounts were frozen despite legitimate claims.

This Gift’s for You…

According to CalMatters, Gov Newsom is “considering appointing Assemblymember Ed Chau, a Monterey Park Democrat, as a judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court… Chau, who was reelected to the state Assembly in November and wouldn’t hit term limits until 2024, said Tuesday he is seeking the judgeship because ‘I’d like to plan ahead to continue in public service,’ though ‘my commitment now is to the constituents I serve.’ It’s rare for a California governor to appoint a sitting legislator to the judicial bench. In the past 50 years, only six state legislators have resigned after being appointed as judges, according to … the California State Library. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.”

Ex Union President Sentenced To 12 Years in Prison

The former president of a Colton-based labor union was sentenced Tuesday, Jan. 5, in Los Angeles to a dozen years in federal prison for stealing nearly $800,000 from the union’s health plan trust fund, which he used for personal expenses including legal bills and a sports car loan for his son. Story (email may be required)
Ask Richard
Richard Markuson
WECA Government Affairs Advocate, Pacific Advocacy Group
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Thursday, December 10, 2020   WECA Political Update December 10, 2020

Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy
2021-22 Legislative Session

The California Legislature launched its 2021-22 session Monday with most of the State Assembly’s 80 members taking their oaths of office at individual tables spaced six feet apart in Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center, while most of the 40 State Senators took theirs in the Capitol building. Eight legislators were sworn in remotely.

Composition of the Legislature

There are 60 Democrats, 19 Republicans and 1 New Patriotic Party member in the Assembly. In the Senate, there are 30 Democrats, 9 Republicans and 1 vacant seat.
There are 24 women and 56 men in the Assembly, compared to 14 women and 25 men in the Senate. At the start of the last session, California tied Georgia for 20th place nationwide in terms of legislative female representation.
The Assembly is composed of 39 white, 20 Latino, 12 Asian/Pacific Islander, 8 Black and 1 Native American members.
The Senate is composed of 26 white, 10 Latino, 2 Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1 Black member/s.


Following the swearing-in and organizational sessions of both houses, legislators began introducing bills for the 2021-22 Legislative Session. There were 68 bills introduced in the State Senate and 96 in the State Assembly. In the Senate, there were three legislative constitutional amendments introduced, while in the Assembly there were two.
The legislative session begins in earnest on January 4 and will be defined by its response to a pandemic that has left many Californians clinging to the edges of a rapidly fraying safety net. Here’s a look at some key proposals lawmakers introduced Monday:

·        A bill forbidding landlords from evicting pandemic-affected renters through Dec. 31, 2021.
·        A bill requiring public schools to reopen under most circumstances when infection rates drop.
·        A bill providing a tax credit for businesses complying with COVID regulations.
·        A bill allowing local jurisdictions to enable more outdoor dining.
·        A bill requiring the unemployment department to cross check claims against state prison rosters.
·        A bill requiring a direct deposit option for unemployment benefits.
·        A $1 billion “broadband for all” bill to bridge California’s digital divide.
·        A bill to expand Medi-Cal coverage to all income-eligible Californians, including undocumented immigrants.
·        A bill requiring the state to address racism as a public health crisis.
·        A bill requiring every active registered voter be mailed a ballot for all future elections.
·        A bill that would implement a “cradle to grave” database that would integrate data from state entities responsible for elementary and secondary education data, entities responsible for early learning data, segments of public higher education, private colleges and universities, state entities responsible for student financial aid, childcare providers, state labor and workforce development agencies, and state departments administering health and human services programs. This database would be used to evaluate the outcomes of California’s educational systems. I can’t foresee any problems with implementing this system or entrusting the State with this data!

Hunger Games (Sacramento edition)

With Kamala Harris leaving the US Senate to become Vice President, Governor Newsom gets to pick a replacement. That replacement is required to run in the next state-wide election in 2022. Three top contenders are:

·        Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles)
·        Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland)
·        Secretary of State Alex Padilla

Newsom is under pressure from various interest groups to pick one person or another – mostly upon racial grounds. But the Democrats’ slim majority in the House could doom the chances of Bass or Lee. As Politico has reported, “now that Joe Biden has tapped two House members to join his administration, concern is growing among congressional Democrats about their slim majority growing even thinner next year before special elections occur to fill those seats. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters he is ‘certainly concerned’ and has warned Biden’s team to be ‘very careful in terms of the members that they appointed from Congress.’ And Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said point blank: ‘I think we better bring that to a halt.’ That doesn’t bode well for any House Dems, such as Rep. Deb Haaland, who are still vying to serve in Biden’s Cabinet. And it could also destroy the hopes of any California House lawmakers who are hoping Gov. Gavin Newsom appoints them to the Senate seat being vacated by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”

Secretary of State

If Newsom picks Padilla for the Senate – he then gets to appoint Padilla’s replacement as Secretary of State. Leading contenders are:

·        State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego)
·        Assembly Member Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto)
·        Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) - declared 2022 candidate
·        Assembly Member Evan Low (D-Campbell) - declared 2022 candidate
·        Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco)
·        State Senator Tom Umberg

California Attorney General

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been “picked” by the Biden team as Health and Human Services Secretary. If he is confirmed – Governor Newsom gets to pick a new AG (as Becerra was tabbed by Jerry Brown after VP-Elect Harris became a Senator, before she ran for President, then Vice-President). Top contenders are:

·        Contra Costa DA (and former superior court judge) Diana Becton
·        Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Alameda)
·        State Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas)
·        Former State Treasurer John Chiang
·        Assembly Member David Chiu (D-San Francisco)
·        SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera
·        State Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys)
·        Former insurance commissioner Dave Jones
·        Former supervising deputy AG Maggy Krell (currently, chief counsel of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of CA)
·        Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg
·        State Senator Tom Umberg (D-Villa Park)
·        Rick Zbur, executive director, Equality California

Other News and Views

Lawyers say, contractors can require COVID-19 vaccinations for jobsite workers Attorneys from a prominent workforce law firm told contractors that it is within their legal rights to compel workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, during a webinar hosted Wednesday by the Associated General Contractors of America. WECA has asked their corporate counsel if they agree with this interpretation. Story

Public Works Bid Protests – Who Is Responsible? Who Is Responsive? The process for awarding public works projects in California is controlled by the Public Contract Code. Generally, regardless of whether the public agency is the State, a county, a city or a local district, the project is awarded to the contractor who is "responsible" and submits the least expensive "responsive" bid. This is generally known as a "low bid" contract. In the context of public works, the terms responsible and responsive have very important meanings. As a result, State and local governments have gotten into very expensive trouble for not following the law. So, to understand how to best present a bid protest on a low bid solicitation, you, as a contractor should have a good understanding of the meaning of these terms.... Story

Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Webinar DOSH will be conducting a ZOOM webinar on Friday, December 18, 2020 from noon to 5:00. You can participate via Zoom Meeting. Click here for the meeting agenda. And, please see the information below on how to participate in the Zoom meeting:


Meeting ID: 964 9344 6100

Passcode: 033178

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Happy Holidays! Who would have thought, in their wildest imagination, a year ago at this time what a year 2020 would be? Much of the State has just entered a three-week shutdown because of reduced ICU capacity. Here’s hoping the positive results from the vaccines that are now being distributed that 2021 will be a return to more normalcy. I’ll be taking a break for my political reporting for the rest of December – and see you back here on January 7, 2021. Thanks for reading and your continued support of WECA, journey workers and particularly apprenticeship! 
Ask Richard
Richard Markuson
WECA Government Affairs Advocate, Pacific Advocacy Group
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