Thursday, February 1, 2024
Wahab Tries Again
State Senator Aisha Wahab (D-Fremont) has reintroduced her statewide PLA mandate legislation after last year’s effort failed. But to make the effort more palatable to PLA supporters, this year’s version will also require the University of California and community college system to use PLAs for their Capital Improvement Programs.
Last year, WECA and the Construction Employer’s Association (CEA) opposed Wahab’s bill. CEA—comprised of union contractors—noted, “PLAs often conflict with subcontracting clauses due to jurisdictional disputes between various crafts, placing general contractors in the unenviable role of being in violation of their CBAs. For example, a PLA may mandate the use of one craft, even though more than one craft is entitled to perform that work. By mandating PLAs, the state would have to choose winners and losers. It is one thing to facilitate the use of union signatory employers, which is something CEA would support, and something entirely different for the state to dictate what craft can perform what work on any given project.”
While we don’t 100 percent agree with CEA, it’s great to have broader opposition and hope CEA will oppose again this year. And perhaps ABC and AGC, too!
San Diego Imposes PLA on All City Construction
In a virtual love fest, the San Diego City Council voted 8-0 to impose a seven-year PLA on all city construction work. The city’s financial analyst cautioned that a PLA could reduce the pool of bidders and thus increase costs. That didn’t deter council members, who sought every opportunity to tout the benefits of PLAs and the importance of union support when running for elected office. The PLA starts with a $5 million threshold, which only lasts two years. The San Diego Tribune opposed Measure D—placed directly on the Nov. 8, 2023 ballot by the San Diego City Council—that repealed 2012’s Measure A, an initiative backed by 58 percent of San Diego voters that banned the city’s use of union-friendly project labor agreements. They covered this week’s vote, but it may be paywalled. Story
Trader Joe’s “NLRB Unconstitutional”
Bloomberg reports that Trader Joe’s joined the growing collection of employers in the National Labor Relations Board’s crosshairs that have gone to federal court to argue that the 88-year-old agency is unconstitutional. “The structure and organization of the National Labor Relations Board and the agency’s administrative law judges is unconstitutional,” the company’s attorney Christopher Murphy said, according to a transcript of the proceeding that Bloomberg News obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The broadside at the Jan. 16 hearing came less than two weeks after SpaceX filed a federal suit in Texas challenging the NLRB, arguing both that its use of administrative law judges and the board’s insulation from the White House violate the constitution's separation of powers doctrine, signaling a quickly spreading willingness to defang a main antagonist. Story
A National Labor Relations Board judge is set to hear arguments in a case that will serve as a big test of General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo’s ambitious push to curtail the use of non-compete agreements.
Abruzzo issued a memo last May detailing her position that non-compete agreements violate workers’ federal labor rights when they deny employees “the ability to quit or change jobs by cutting off their access to other employment opportunities that they are qualified for based on their experience, aptitudes, and preferences as to type and location of work.”
The agency has also targeted what it and some worker advocates call TRAPs—or training repayment agreement provisions—in which employers seek to recoup certain costs from employees who leave under certain conditions.
“She was pretty clear where she wanted to take the board,” said Maribeth Meluch, a partner at the Ohio-based business law firm Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. “The NLRB wants employees to be able to leave if the employment terms and conditions are not agreeable.”
In September, the NLRB issued a complaint along both these fronts against a national medical spa chain, Juvly Aesthetics, alleging that the company forced employees into unlawful non-compete and confidentiality requirements and demanded two employees pay $50,000 and $60,000, respectively, to recoup training costs.
Critics of such repayment conditions, which have received increased attention in recent years, argue that they unfairly restrict workers’ ability to change jobs and that the costs demanded are oftentimes exorbitant relative to an employee’s pay.
Attorneys for Juvly have argued in legal filings that the NLRB is exceeding its authority and denied wrongdoing. Following the hearing, the ALJ would likely rule later this year, though that decision can be appealed to the agency’s board—and from there, in federal court.
Eleven Candidates Are Running In The Top-Two Primary In California's 20th Congressional District
The top-two primary for California's 20th Congressional District is March 5. Three candidates lead in media attention: Mike Boudreaux (R), Vince Fong (R), and David Giglio (R). The primary is following former Rep. Kevin McCarthy's (R) resignation in December 2023. More
Ten Candidates Are Running in The March 5 Top-Two Primary For California's 31st Congressional District
Incumbent Grace Napolitano (D) is not running for re-election, leaving the district open for the first time since 1998. Napolitano is one of 40 U.S. House members who have announced they’re not running for re-election in November. Ten candidates are running. Five lead in endorsements, media attention, and fundraising: Bob Archuleta (D), Gil Cisneros (D), Gregory Hafif (D), Mary Ann Lutz (D), and Susan Rubio (D). Four of the five are elected officials. More
Bill to Require Speed Limiters in California Cars Introduced in Senate
A bill to require all cars sold or made in California after 2027 to have devices limiting their top speed to only ten miles per hour above the speed limit was introduced in the State Senate.
Senate Bill 961, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would specifically require certain vehicles, commencing with the 2027 model year, to be equipped with an intelligent speed limiter that would limit the speed of the vehicle to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. The bill would exempt emergency vehicles from this requirement and authorize the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol to disable the system on other vehicles. Story
This is like federal efforts to mandate speed limiters on commercial vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new Significant Rulemaking Report, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to publish a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking in May. Previously, the agency projected to unveil the speed limiter proposal in June and December last year. The rulemaking fell apart in 2016 and was resurrected by FMCSA in 2022 when the agency issued an advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking. The notice suggested that commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more and equipped with an electric engine control unit capable of being governed would be subject to the mandate.
UC Hits Pause
The University of California backed away today from a plan to allow people without legal immigration status to hold campus jobs.
UC President Michael V. Drake announced that the university would hold off on the proposal for at least a year as the Regents emerged from a closed session at their meeting in San Francisco. The board then ratified that decision by vote.
The decision came after months of legal scrutiny and pressure from the Biden administration, which privately let UC officials know the proposal violated federal law and would likely leave the university vulnerable to a lawsuit or administrative action.
"We concluded that the proposed legal pathway is not viable at this time, and in fact carries significant risks for the institution and for those we serve," Drake said. "For that reason, it is inadvisable for the university to initiate implementation right now."
The decision leaves around 4,000 undocumented students across the 10-campus system unable to hold campus jobs, including paid positions and residencies that some need to graduate or pursue advanced studies.
No longer dancing around the subject, Joanna Weiss is taking direct aim at fellow Democrat Dave Min in the second ad for her CA-47 campaign, attacking the state senator for his recent drunk driving conviction in a six-figure ad buy.
The “Trust” spot highlighted an incident in May when Min was pulled over by California Highway Patrol, not far from the state Capitol in Sacramento. He was later sentenced to three years of probation and $2,000 in fines. "Min drove drunk, lied to the police, and endangered innocent lives,” says the narrator in the ad.
A spokesperson for Min’s campaign said the ad is an attempt by Weiss to distract from her record, pointing to a recent Daily Beast story that highlighted her husband’s history of defending the Catholic Church in sexual abuse cases. (I'm not sure why her husband’s clients are attributed to “her record,” but in politics…)
“Dave Min is endorsed by The California Democratic Party, Katie Porter, and the Los Angeles Times,” Orrin Evans said in a statement. “Who are you going to trust?”
The district is one of the state’s most hotly-contested races this cycle, with Republicans eager to flip the seat Porter has held onto since 2018. Weiss, an attorney and former nonprofit exec, has managed to mount a serious intraparty challenge to Min by scooping up support from some local Democrats and going on the attack. Republican Scott Baugh will face Min or Weiss in November—assuming he finishes first or second in March.
2024 California Contractors License Law & Reference Book Now Available
The 2024 edition of the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) California Contractors License Law & Reference Book (Law Book) is now available. CSLB introduced a streamlined law book that includes essential information for the California construction industry.
The Law Book can be purchased directly from the publisher, or the online PDF version can be viewed or downloaded at no cost on the CSLB website.
The Law Book can only be purchased directly from publisher LexisNexis online or by calling (877) 394-8826. The price is $54.00 plus tax, shipping, and handling. The Law Book is available as a PDF on the CSLB website and can be downloaded for free.
2022 Energy Code Fact Sheets Now Available
The California Energy Commission has developed new solar photovoltaic (PV), battery storage, and electric ready online fact sheets to support the 2022 Energy Code. The fact sheets are available via the Online Resource Center:
The Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) is an alliance of over 240 business organizations that represent 420,000 employers with 5 million employees in Los Angeles County. As a united federation, BizFed advocates for policies and projects strengthening the regional economy.
To best understand our members, WECA has partnered with BizFed to find out the top areas of concern for the business community and the business outlook for the upcoming year.
Results from the poll will guide advocacy and help key policymakers in our region understand the needs of the business community. Your voice is imperative!
Take the poll here. (It should only take 10 minutes!)
U.S. Chamber White Paper on "Whole of Government" Union Support
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a White Paper detailing the various elements of the Biden/Harris administration's advocacy for unions. The report examines how President Biden's "whole of government" approach to using the federal government to promote unionization harms workers, employers, and the economy. Read the report here.