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Thursday, February 29, 2024   WECA Political Update February 29, 2024

Bissextile Year Edition

Right up there with the bi-annual time change farce, we celebrate the 366th day of 2024. Arguably, December 31, 2024, will be the 366th day, but for literary purposes, today is what I am calling 366. Leap years are confusing (as opposed to the idiocy of changing our clocks twice a year). “Without the leap years, after a few hundred years, we will have summer in November,” said Younas Khan, a physics instructor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Christmas will be in summer. There will be no snow. There will be no feeling of Christmas.” But with climate change, maybe the snow thing is not an issue.
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Greenmail Attack in Fresno Stopped: Could We See Less CEQA Abuse in The Future?

Last Thursday, February 22, the Fresno City Council denied a Greenmail appeal, an attempt to require a PLA on a private project through CEQA abuse - and gave Scannell Properties the green light to continue developing a million square foot warehouse.

The Fresno City Council voted to deny the appeal and approve the project with a 5-2 vote, with Councilmembers Arias and Chavez opposing. The project had previously been given approval by the Fresno Planning Commission on a 7-0 vote. While the city approved the project, a lawsuit could still be filed against Scannell, and the clock is now ticking on the 30 days for that to occur.

WECA’s Government Relations Director Rex Hime gave public comment at the meeting, fighting for fair and open competition for all projects and highlighting the CEQA abuse that was going on. Greenmail, or CEQA abuse to slow down or stop development altogether, isn’t just happening in Fresno or with large industrial projects. It has also been used to slow down much-needed housing projects trying to address the shortage in California, and a new state appellate court decision could reduce this from happening.

Dan Walters with CalMatters published an article highlighting the court ruling that could crack down on those tactics to slow or block construction.

Here’s a peek into that article: “Chris Elmendorf, a UC Davis law professor who is the state’s foremost authority on development laws, says the appellate court ruling is a major blow to the tactic of using CEQA to delay projects of any kind – not just housing – that conform to the standards of pre-existing general plans.”

Please let Rex know if you hear of any Greenmail threats in your area.
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California Energy Commission OKs $1.9B for EV Charging Stations

The California Energy Commission on Feb. 14 approved $1.9 billion to expand the state’s network of charging and refueling infrastructure for zero-emission cars, trucks, and buses, set to create the most extensive charging and hydrogen refueling network in the country, say officials. The state funding comes from its Clean Transportation Program and will be spent over the next four years, with at least 50 percent targeted to benefit priority populations. Part of the $48 billion California Climate Commitment includes more than $10 billion for zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure. Story
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Sacramento Mayor’s Race

Those lucky enough to live in the “City of Trees,” or “Farm to Fork Capital,” depending on which slogan you prefer, will recognize this pile of mail (one day’s worth) for the two leading contenders for Sacramento mayor. Why they covet this position (just another vote on the council as voters continue to reject various “strong mayor” initiatives, in part because few voters would trust a strong Mayor Steinberg) is beyond my comprehension, aside from the fact that they may want to be in a better position for Doris Matsui’s inevitable retirement.


CPUC and Solar Prevailing Wages

The CPUC has unveiled its website to implement its role in enforcing the prevailing wage obligations of contractors installing some rooftop solar and storage. They also have FAQs. WECA is reviewing its FAQs released last year.
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Captive Audience Meetings

Organized labor has long sought to curb the practice, arguing that it unfairly allows employers to pepper workers with anti-union messaging — and the right to punish or fire workers who refuse to attend. For over a decade, Oregon has been the only state with a law preventing employers from penalizing workers who opt out of meetings on “religious or political matters.” Still, the issue has gained momentum in the Biden years. The National Labor Relations Board’s Jennifer Abruzzo has sought to outlaw them, and five states — Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, and New York — have recently enacted laws in the same vein as Oregon’s. Employers contend that such bans infringe upon their free speech rights and present practical hassles to communicating with employees effectively, including on subjects not covered by these restrictions.
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Time for Employers to Complete California Privacy Rights Act Compliance as Court of Appeal Lifts Injunction on Enforcement

Employers had a big win in late June 2023 when a trial court in Sacramento enjoined until March 29, 2024, enforcement of the final regulations under the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), the only one of 14 recently enacted, comprehensive state data protection laws that apply to human resources information. This extended grace period ended prematurely on February 9, 2024, when the California Court of Appeal rejected the lower court’s injunction and immediately restored enforcement authority to the California Privacy Protection Agency. The court’s decision also impacts enforcement of upcoming regulations addressing cybersecurity audits, risk assessments, and automated decision-making technology, as the appellate court also rejected a future, one-year stay on enforcement imposed by the Sacramento trial court. As a result, employers waiting until March 29, 2024, to complete their CPRA compliance work should accelerate those efforts and carefully monitor the rulemaking process for the three pending sets of regulations. Learn More
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IBEW Sees Arizona Continuing to Expand Solar and Battery Storage Projects

Dean Wine, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 7th District international representative for renewable energy, sees Arizona continuing to be among the country's leading states in implementing renewable energy projects such as solar installations and battery storage facilities. Wine's 7th District comprises Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. “Arizona and Texas are among the top four states in the country when it comes to installing solar generation and battery storage facilities, among other renewables,” Wine pointed out. He added that Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Kansas are less involved in renewables but are becoming more engaged because of federal money being offered for projects. More

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Tuesday, February 27, 2024   Congratulations to the Recipients of the Frank Vellutini Memorial Apprenticeship Scholarship 2024

In December 2023, WECEF was pleased to announce the Frank Vellutini Memorial Apprenticeship Scholarship 2024. The scholarship was created in memory of Frank Vellutini, longtime owner of Royal Electric Company and WECA member since 1971. Frank was actively involved with WECA and responsible for extraordinary contributions to WECA's growth and success for many years. Frank served on the WECA Board of Directors and the WECA Apprenticeship and Training Trust from 1992 to 2015. Royal Electric Company was one of the founding members that established the Western Electrical Contractors Education Foundation (WECEF).

It is now our honor to congratulate the first recipients of the Frank Vellutini Memorial Apprenticeship Scholarship 2024. Please join us in congratulating:

Moses Melgar (CA)

Garrett Shell (CA)

Andrew Holdaway (AZ)

Mark Belogub (CA)

Nicolas Craig (CA)

Devon Sprague (CA)

Damon Collins (AZ)

Joseph Discoe (UT)

Jairo Felix (CA)

Demetrios Pathammavong (CA)

Dan Larkin (CA)

James Dolinich (AZ)

Leng Vang (CA)

Giancarlos Mendoza (CA)

Paul Roberts (CA)

Corbin McBride (CA)

Read more >>


Tuesday, February 27, 2024   You're Invited to WECA's Open House in Celebration of Women in Construction Week 2024 on March 7

Women in Construction Week 2024 is March 3rd-9th!

You're Invited to WECA's Open House in Celebration of Women in Construction Week 2024 on March 7th at 3 PM

Please Join Us or Share This Invitation with Someone Who Should





 

This March, WECA is celebrating Women in Construction Week 2024 with an Open House event at our Sacramento/Rancho Cordova training facility and California HQ.

We invite women considering careers as electricians or low voltage technicians to join us on March 7th at 3 p.m. to learn how to get involved in WECA's electrical apprenticeship and training programs, get a tour of WECA's training facility and labs while meeting the WECA team and networking with other women in the field, and to celebrate women in the electrical workforce.

We encourage you to pre-register for the event to secure your spot, though we will accept walk-ins on the day of the event. However, pre-registration will allow you to receive event reminders and updated event information.

RSVP for the Women in Construction Week 2024 Open House

Not for you? Please share this invitation with someone you know!



Download a WECA WIC Week 2024 Open House flyer

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Tuesday, February 27, 2024   New Self-Paced Course Just Dropped: GetWired 401 Self-Paced Introduction to Motor Controls

Introducing the Next Self-Paced Online Option for Our GetWired Electrician Trainee Program Series:

GetWired 401: Self-Paced Introduction to Motor Controls

Take It on Your Own Time, at Your Own Pace!


WECA is excited to announce another way students can take GetWired 401, the thirteenth class in WECA's Path to an Electrician Trainee Program Certificate!

We've long offered GetWired 401 as an instructor-led online course. And we still do!

But for students who would prefer to take this course at their own pace, on their own time, we're now offering a fully self-paced online option, just like we've been offering for earlier courses in the GetWired series! Students who might prefer this format include:

  • Students with job, childcare, or other obligations preventing them from taking the instructor-led scheduled courses in the evenings
  • Students who would benefit from being able to review the material at a slower pace, such as students for whom English is a second language
  • Students who just prefer to work on the coursework at times and places when it works best for them
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WECA's new GetWired 401 Self-Paced Option is an entirely online, self-paced alternative version of our GetWired 401 course, which is excellent preparation for Basic Motor Controls Parts 1 and 2, where students apply what they’ve learned in Get Wired! 401 to hands-on motor control labs.

For those with little or no experience with motor controls, this self-paced online course gives a solid foundation in:

  • Motor controls and schematics
  • Reversing controls
  • Controls for multiple motors
  • Disconnecting means for motors and controllers
  • Winding connections
  • Control and signaling circuits

A 2020 NEC and Mike Holt's Understanding Basic Motor Controls books are required.

  • Total class hours available: 33
  • Standard Tuition Fee: $349

If all of this sounds like it would work for you,

enroll in GetWired 401 Self-Paced Online

Think you'd prefer being able to interact with an instructor and learn along with other students?

Enroll in an upcoming instance of the original GetWired 401 here!

Read more >>


Tuesday, February 27, 2024   First Year, First Semester Arizona Commercial Electrical Apprentices on Their First Day at WECA PHX

First day at WECA! WECA Arizona Apprenticeship Manager and Lead Instructor Keith Smart recently showed a new class of first year, first semester Arizona Commercial Electrical apprentices around WECA's Phoenix Training Facility and Arizona Headquarters. Have a great semester, everyone!









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Tuesday, February 27, 2024   WECA's Self-paced Online Course "Solar Power for Electricians" is Updated and Improved!


 

WECA has recently released a substantial update to its "Solar Power for Electricians" online, self-paced course. Our improved course now includes an introduction to module level electronics and three topologies of current solar applications. The course expands the relationship between irradiance, efficiency, and current. The types of source circuits and their IV curves used in stand-alone systems, microinverter systems, DC-to-DC converter systems, and central inverter systems are also covered.

Journeyperson continuing education students: Enroll in this stand-alone, self-paced online 16-hour Solar Power for Electricians course. Or, if you need more hours, consider Faultless Solar, which packages this course with another to provide 32 hours of training.

Electrician Trainees: "Solar Power for Electricians" is part of GetWired 402, so you will take it as part of your journey towards the WECA Electrician Trainee Program certificate.

Read more >>


Tuesday, February 27, 2024   Exam Prep Update: Prep Courses Now Delivered on 2020 NEC After CA Rollover to Code-Updated Exams


 

Advanced Electrician Trainees: Are you planning to take the California General or Residential Electrician Certification exam, California Fire Life Safety Technician Certification exam, or the California Voice Data Video Technician Certification exam soon? The State of California recently released Code-updated exams, so WECA is now delivering all of our exam prep courses on the 2020 National Electrical Code! Pick your class and start preparing for your exam today!

WECA Apprentices: Be sure to check your booklists carefully, as we've updated all of our apprenticeship semesters which focus on exam prep to 2020 Code as well.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2024   Need a Class for Your ET or Journeyperson Hours? Take BMC 2 in Sacramento OR San Diego Mar. 9 & 16

Need Another Class for Your Electrician Trainee Cert? Or Just Looking for Some Fun Journeyperson Continuing Ed?

Basic Motor Controls, Part 2, In Your Choice of Sacramento or San Diego on March 9th & March 16th

Spots Going Fast -- Secure Yours!



Get further hands-on experience building control circuits for motors.

In this onsite, lab-based course, Basic Motor Controls Part 2, working on a motor controls training board with up to one other student partner, you will learn about and gain experience with:

  • Sequential starting of multiple motors
  • Control relays and their common applications
  • Timers and timing logic -- for example, on delay, off delay, etc.

Total class hours available: 16

Standard tuition fee: $229

Enroll in Basic Motor Controls Part 2, running March 9th & 16th in your choice of Sacramento or San Diego

Have questions or need assistance? Call us at 877-444-9322 or email us at info@goweca.com.

Read more >>


Tuesday, February 27, 2024   U.S. Congressman Blake Moore (Utah 01) Visits WECA; Tours Salt Lake City Region Training Center



Left to Right: WECA Government Relations Director Rex Hime; U.S. Congressman Blake Moore (Utah 01); WECA Utah Apprenticeship Manager and Lead Instructor Talon Pobuda; and Cody Eaton of Utah Member Hunt Electric and Trustee on the WECA Apprenticeship Training Trust Board of Trustees

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U.S. Congressman Blake Moore (Utah 01) and his staff toured WECA’s Utah Training Facility on Thursday, January 25. Elected in 2021, Moore is the first-ever Republican from Utah to serve on the influential House Committee on Ways and Means.

Moore was joined by WECA’s Government Relations Director Rex Hime; Cody Eaton of Utah Member Contractor Hunt Electric and Trustee on the WECA Apprenticeship Training Trust Board of Trustees; and Utah Apprenticeship Manager and Lead Instructor Talon Pobuda, who was teaching a cohort of second-year apprentices during the visit.

Moore was impressed with WECA’s practical approach to education, with the books and the hands-on training steps away from each other. He even got to talk to some of our apprentices and learn about their favorite subjects to learn about through their classwork so far. Providing as many professional pathways as possible for his constituents is a priority, and he noticed exactly the value WECA provided in that space.

Eaton took the opportunity to explain how critical competency-based training was for workforce development in Utah. With over 90 apprentices in the program, he explained that no one can prepare Hunt Electric’s employees for the field like WECA can.

Thank you to Representative Blake Moore and his team for learning about how WECA is helping develop Utah’s workforce.













Read more >>


Tuesday, February 27, 2024   SmartDollar Users Can File Their Taxes for Free!

(APPRENTICES: If You're Not Using Your FREE SmartDollar Apprentice Benefit, This Is Your Sign -- Get Started Below)

Content Courtesy of SmartDollar and SmartTax



 

Content courtesy of: SmartDollar and SmartTax

We've invested in SmartDollar to help you take control of your finances--including your taxes. And that means you can file with Ramsey SmartTax for free! (And what's more budget-friendly than free?)

Get started with Ramsey SmartTax here. If you're a WECA Apprentice and don't have a SmartDollar account yet, learn how to get started below.

Happy filing!

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Not yet signed up for SmartDollar? No worries -- getting started is easy! Learn how below.

SmartDollar is a financial wellness benefit for WECA apprentices. We announced our partnership with the Dave Ramsey-founded online financial wellness platform in January, 2021 to provide our apprentices with a sound foundation in personal finance management. This benefit is available to all WECA apprentices free of charge. Not yet signed up for SmartDollar? No worries -- scroll to the bottom of this article for instructions!

What is SmartDollar? SmartDollar is a step-by-step approach to handling money with the number-one authority in personal finance, Dave Ramsey. More than 4.5 million people have started on Dave's plan and taken control of their money, and you can too! SmartDollar will equip you to get out of debt, on a budget, and on your way to a strong financial foundation.

The average person pays off $9,405 of debt and saves $6,127 in the first twelve months, and you can too!

"This program is powerful yet simple to understand. The Baby Steps make understanding how to win with money easy! Dave's lessons are fun, informative, and incredibly encouraging. It really doesn't feel like I'm taking a financial course. It's more like learning finances from a good friend...or a financially savvy stand-up comedian! The online tools are fantastic as well, and I love being able to 'ASK DAVE' any question and do my budget online. Love it all!" - Recent participant

With SmartDollar, you'll learn how to...

  • Jump-start your money
  • Knock out debt
  • Secure your dream home
  • Retire in style
  • Demystify your credit score

How does SmartDollar work? With so many ways to engage in SmartDollar activities and content, SmartDollar Points have been designed to encourage users to establish true behavior change. (Check out the graph below for a quick rundown). The greater the importance and required time of each activity, the greater the amount of points that can be earned. For example, each Core Lesson video completed is worth 250 points. Completing a shorter Deep Dive video is worth 50 points. Tracking a transaction in EveryDollar is only worth 20 points, but users are encouraged to track all their financial transactions with no points limitations. These example activities are key for building the confidence you need to reach your financial goals.







 

Taking advantage of your free financial wellness benefit, SmartDollar, is easy!

To set up your account after accessing your dashboard, click either of the links shown as highlighted in the screenshot to the right of this paragraph. You'll be taken to a page with a SmartDollar enrollment link, where you will be able to set up immediate access to this important benefit.

Ready to get started?

Login to your GOWECA dashboard

Read more >>


Thursday, February 22, 2024   Video Member Contractor Spotlight: Windell Pascascio of Imperial Electric Service

Please enjoy our new video release spotlighting Imperial Electric Service, a WECA Member Contractor based in Fresno and serving California's Central Valley, and its Founder and President Windell Pascascio.

Windell graduated from WECA's Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship program in 2013 and currently serves as a Trustee on the WECA Apprenticeship Training Trust Board of Trustees.

Imperial Electric Service is a growing firm specializing in commercial and residential electric. Services provided by Imperial Electric Service include remodels, solar energy, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, design-build tenant improvements, service work, facility maintenance, retrofits, site and utility work such as underground power utility infrastructure, site lighting, distribution, excavation, directional boring, and new installations.

Thank you, Windell and Imperial Electric Service, for being a WECA Member Contractor serving Fresno and the Central Valley!

Read more >>


Thursday, February 22, 2024   Women in Construction Week 2024 is March 3rd-9th!

Any Women On Your Team Considering WECA Apprenticeship?

Encourage Them to Attend WECA's Open House in Celebration of Women in Construction Week on March 7th at 3 PM




 

This March, WECA is celebrating Women in Construction Week 2024 with an Open House event at our Sacramento/Rancho Cordova training facility and California HQ.

We are inviting women considering careers as electricians or low voltage technicians to join us on March 7th at 3 p.m. to learn how to get involved in WECA's electrical apprenticeship and training programs, get a tour of WECA's training facility and labs while meeting the WECA team and networking with other women in the field, and celebrate women in the electrical workforce.

If there are women on your team considering apprenticeship with WECA, please encourage them to attend the open house. Attendees can pre-register for the event to secure their spots, though we will accept walk-ins on the day of the event. Please share with your employees, however, that pre-registration will allow them to receive event reminders and updated event information.

Your employees can register here for the Women in Construction Week 2024 Open House
 



Download a WECA WIC Week 2024 Open House flyer

Read more >>


Thursday, February 22, 2024   Focus on Safety for Spanish-Speaking Employees

WECA with Educational Partner ClickSafety Offers OSHA 10 Construction Spanish and

OSHA 30 Construction Spanish

These OSHA courses are an excellent way to help your employees receive proper training on important safety and health matters at your work sites. WECA, with educational partner ClickSafety, has a variety of safety and OSHA offerings in both English and Spanish available for your Trainees and as Continuing Education for your Journeyperson employees. (WECA Apprentices get OSHA10 and OSHA30 during their program with us.)



Learn more about OSHA 10 Construction Spanish



Learn more about OSHA 30 Construction Spanish

Read more >>


Thursday, February 15, 2024   WECA Political Update February 15, 2024

WECA Opposes Proposition 1

In 2022, the Governor and State Legislature approved $9.5 billion in tax refunds, part of a $12 billion relief plan hatched before the Governor’s re-election campaign.

For reasons known only to a handful of officials, most refunds were in the form of debit cards that would only be redeemable in a select ATM network. As of 2023, more than 1 million cards had not been activated.

Less than one year later, this same cabal of officials decided the state should borrow $6.38 billion for mental health treatment facilities ($4.4 billion) and supportive housing for homeless veterans and homeless individuals with behavioral health challenges ($2 billion).

WECA is recommending a NO vote.

Proposition 1 is the only proposition on the March ballot – at the insistence of Governor Newsom, who desired no competition on the ballot.

Newsom has contributed some of his campaign money and brow-beat business and labor to pony up more than $12 million to convince voters the state should borrow billions (repaid over 30 years) right after issuing refunds that would have more than paid for the programs in Prop 1.

By comparison, opponents of Prop. 1 have raised only about $1,000 so far. But their underdog effort to persuade voters may ultimately be bolstered by a history lesson.

Prop. 1 is a dual measure to reroute roughly $1 billion annually from mental health funding to housing for people with behavioral health needs. It includes paying for 4,350 supportive housing units and 6,800 mental health treatment beds. For reference, California’s homeless population is estimated to be about 175,000.

But as CalMatters explains, the measure is like a 2018 ballot measure, known as No Place Like Home, that has so far fallen short of its lofty promises.

Like Prop. 1, No Place Like Home used money earmarked for mental health services to pay for a $2 billion housing bond. The campaign to support the measure promised 20,000 new supportive housing units — a number in a Legislative Analyst’s Office report that projected “half of the units would likely be completed within five years” — and it was enough to persuade 63% of voters to say yes.

Five years later, however, the state has built just 1,797 No Place Like Home units as of Feb. 2, according to the program's most recent annual report.

Why the hold up? In addition to high construction and insurance costs, it can take years for developers to line up funds. Resistance from neighborhood groups and communities also delays projects. For example, two of the 10 No Place Like Home projects proposed by real estate developer Eden Housing were hit with environmental lawsuits.

Supporters of Prop. 1, such as Democratic Sen. Susan Eggman of Stockton, who authored part of the measure, said the state has learned lessons from No Place Like Home. Prop. 1 includes exemptions to California’s environmental law to speed up development, and it requires more transparency by mandating counties to submit annual spending reports.

Besides citing the difficulties of building more affordable housing, critics of Prop. 1 are concerned that the measure will slash current services for behavioral and mental health programs. Advocates for people with disabilities have also raised flags that Prop. 1 would allow money to be spent on involuntary confinement facilities.

And, of course, the State Building and Construction Trades Council and PLAs fit into this jigsaw puzzle. The trades made a $1 million contribution to Prop. 1 at the end of December and are in the top five of supporters. Is it coincidental that State Senator Wahab has reintroduced legislation to mandate PLAs on any state, UC, or community college construction project of $35 million or more?

WECA is not insensitive to the homeless problem in California but concluded that Prop. 1 is another government program that will only touch a small fraction of the problem, will be beset with delays and cost overruns, and is a callous ploy to give the Governor and legislative leaders cover on a problem many in California call one of the biggest problems facing the state.

The state could have banked the money it gave back to taxpayers in an election year but is betting many voters will tick a yes vote to “address” homelessness. WECA disagrees and recommends a “NO.”
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No More Vacay Pics

A measure proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) would allow lawmakers to move around airports protected from the attention of other travelers — and reporters, Politico reports. The move recalls the 2021 scandal in which Cruz was photographed jetting off to a tropical vacation amid the worst winter storm his state had seen in decades, triggering an avalanche of scorn and criticism. Cruz is trying to attach the amendment to the FAA reauthorization, slated to be marked up in the Senate Commerce Committee, on which Cruz serves as ranking member. The amendment would “offer lawmakers a dedicated security escort at airports, along with expedited screening outside of public view.” Federal judges, Cabinet members, and some of their families and staff would get the same privileges.

Cruz justified the measure by pointing to “serious security threats facing public officials” that require “reasonable measures to keep everyone safe.” Senate Republican Commerce Committee spokesperson Melissa Braid said: “This language was drafted in a bipartisan manner to address the growing number of serious threats to justices, judges, public officials, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. With rising security incidents at airports, this amendment ensures that — when law enforcement determines that there is a serious threat — reasonable security measures will be taken to keep everybody safe.”

But apparently, airport police agency representatives say it could present a burden, as the amendment language requires TSA to “arrange” escorts, but it could fall to local officials to provide them.
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New Senate Leader

State leaders packed into the Capitol recently to witness the swearing-in of new President Pro Tem Mike McGuire.

McGuire takes the gavel from outgoing leader Toni Atkins, who is termed out this year and focusing her efforts on a 2026 gubernatorial run. Among the other political powerhouses in attendance were Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and head of the California Labor Federation Lorena Gonzalez.

McGuire opened his first remarks as pro tem by praising emergency workers responding to days of fierce storms. He also touted the record number of women serving in the Senate, California’s role as a global leader on climate, and the state’s economic prowess. “No matter what you watch on cable news, we are America’s economic engine,” McGuire said.

McGuire, whom his colleagues described as an “Energizer Bunny,” is now tasked with guiding the chamber through a bleak budget year and what are sure to be tough negotiations with the governor’s administration and the Assembly. [Politico]
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Arizona Elections

Talk may be cheap. Arizona elections certainly are not. That’s the biggest takeaway from year-end campaign finance reports that became available this week for the state’s most competitive federal races. Some of Arizona’s most viral-worthy politicians are coming to a ballot near you, but these reports prove that campaigns know “clicks” alone won’t be enough this year. [Veridus LLC]

U.S. Senate It’s now or never for U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I). Arizona’s Senior Senator has $10.6 million in cash-on-hand - a significant cash-on-hand advantage over her rivals. But closing 2023 by only raising approximately $600,000 is cause for alarm. Meanwhile, the April 8 filing deadline is fast approaching, and, as an Independent, Sen. Sinema can’t count on help from the Democratic Party to help her campaign infrastructure stand up.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) continues to post impressive numbers, with $3.3 million raised during the period and $6.5 million in cash-on-hand. Republican Kari Lake raised $2 million, but only has $1 million in cash-on-hand. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb (R) raised $265,000 and has just over a quarter-million dollars in cash-on-hand.

CD-1 Rep. David Schweikert (R) finished 2023 with roughly $900,000 in the bank as the battle for this race’s Democratic nomination is shaping up to be fierce with several candidates lending their campaigns six-figure sums to boost fundraising totals. Among Democrats, businessmen Conor O’Callaghan and Andrei Cherny lead the pack as both have roughly $1 million in their campaign account.

CD-3 Phoenix City Councilmember Yassamin Ansari ($312,000) outraised former legislator Raquel Terán ($200,000) during the period, and has more than twice as much cash-on-hand. Advantage: Ansari.

CD-6 Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R) and former state legislator Kirsten Engle (D) each raised over $400,000 during the period, but the GOP incumbent has a commanding edge in cash-on-hand with a campaign war chest that exceeds $2 million.

CD-8 The end-of-year report gives the first glimpse at the Primary battle to replace retiring Congresswoman Debbie Lesko. Blake Masters is largely self-funding his effort thus far and lent his campaign $1 million during the period. Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma led the field in private fundraising, with $340,000 raised during the period. Meanwhile, Abe Hamadeh is lagging the money race with $288,000 raised and a little over $250,000 in cash-on-hand, but has already captured the coveted Trump endorsement and expects to have a well-financed Super PAC to support his effort.
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OSHA Sends Worker Walkaround Final Rule to OIRA

On February 9, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent its worker walkaround final rule to OIRA for review. The rule would empower OSHA inspectors to allow union organizers, community activists, or other third parties who do not officially represent the employees or the government to accompany OSHA on an inspection of a workplace, contradicting the plain language of OSHA’s governing regulations, longstanding agency guidance, and past interpretations of federal workplace safety law. It’s a thinly veiled attempt to bypass the NLRA and state property laws by allowing union organizers access to employer property to which they would otherwise not be entitled under the law.

The proposed rule was issued last August, and OSHA received nearly 12,000 comments.

Read more >>


Thursday, February 8, 2024   U.S. Congressman Blake Moore (Utah 01) Visits WECA; Tours Salt Lake City Region Training Center


Left to Right: WECA Government Relations Director Rex Hime; U.S. Congressman Blake Moore (Utah 01); WECA Utah Apprenticeship Manager and Lead Instructor Talon Pobuda; and Cody Eaton of Utah Member Hunt Electric and Trustee on the WECA Apprenticeship Training Trust Board of Trustees

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U.S. Congressman Blake Moore (Utah 01) and his staff toured WECA’s Utah Training Facility on Thursday, January 25. Elected in 2021, Moore is the first-ever Republican from Utah to serve on the influential House Committee on Ways and Means.

Moore was joined by WECA’s Government Relations Director Rex Hime; Cody Eaton of Utah Member Contractor Hunt Electric and Trustee on the WECA Apprenticeship Training Trust Board of Trustees; and Utah Apprenticeship Manager and Lead Instructor Talon Pobuda, who was teaching a cohort of second-year apprentices during the visit.

Moore was impressed with WECA’s practical approach to education, with the books and the hands-on training steps away from each other. He even got to talk to some of our apprentices and learn about their favorite subjects to learn about through their classwork so far. Providing as many professional pathways as possible for his constituents is a priority, and he noticed exactly the value WECA provided in that space.

Eaton took the opportunity to explain how critical competency-based training was for workforce development in Utah. With over 90 apprentices in the program, he explained that no one can prepare Hunt Electric’s employees for the field like WECA can.

Thank you to Representative Blake Moore and his team for learning about how WECA is helping develop Utah’s workforce.














 
Read more >>


Thursday, February 8, 2024   California Member Contractors: Need Electrician Trainees? Try WECA's Student Referral Service.

Current County Availability Below.


 

WECA's Student Referral Service is a free job referral service that introduces our current ET, Journeymen, and WECA Graduate job seekers to Member Contractors in order to help meet their staffing needs. At this time, WECA's student referral service is only available in California.

This service is meant to help and benefit all involved. WECA Member Contractors are referred qualified WECA-trained applicants to help meet their staffing needs. And WECA Students, Journeymen, and Graduates get valuable job referrals.

WECA Member Contractors: To receive referrals from WECA's Student Referral Service, please contact Trisha Hughes, WECA ET/CE Client Services Specialist, at thughes@goweca.com  or 1-877-444-9322.

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Count of Electrician Trainees registered with WECA's Student Referral Service and awaiting an introduction, by region, below. If you're a member contractor in one of these areas and would like a referral, please contact us today:

Fresno: 5

Los Angeles: 3

Sacramento: 6

San Diego: 5

San Joaquin County: 2

Ventura: 2

Need Electrician Trainees, but you're in a different region of California than those shown above? Just contact Trisha and let her know your needs. WECA will publicize a call for WECA students who are registered trainees in your area, but otherwise currently out of work, to sign up for SRS. We'll then provide you with appropriate incoming referrals.

Read more >>


Thursday, February 8, 2024   Pictorial: First Year, First Semester Commercial Electrical Apprentices on their First Day at WECA

Pictorial: Behind the Scenes in Arizona With a New Class of First Year, First Semester Commercial Electrical Apprentices on Their First Day at WECA











Read more >>


Thursday, February 8, 2024   Pictorial: GetWired Students Have Fun; Learn New Conduit-Bending Skills in Weekend Lab

Pictorial: GetWired Students Having Fun and Learning New Conduit-Bending Skills in a Saturday Lab with Instructor James Hall

An Increasing Number of California Member Contractors Sponsor the WECA Educations of Their Electrician Trainees

















Read more >>


Thursday, February 1, 2024   WECA Political Update 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!
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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
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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
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Non-Compete

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.
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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
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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
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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.
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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.
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CA-47

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.
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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:

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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!)
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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

Read more >>


Wednesday, January 31, 2024   A WECA Electrical Education and Expertise Can Take You a Lot of Places

Check Out Some Possibilities with Our ?Electrician Career Tree Infographic



Where can your WECA electrical education and expertise take you?

There are a lot of possibilities out there--and there could be specialties and related careers you've never considered before! Explore some of the many directions you could go with this infographic.

Download your own PDF copy here.

P.S. Stay tuned for a Low Voltage Technician Career Tree coming soon!

Read more >>


Wednesday, January 31, 2024   Congratulations to the WECA Arizona Commercial Electrical Class of 2023!

Share in Their Graduation Event with Video and Pictures of the Celebration

Watch our celebration video:



See some moments from the evening:



















 
Read more >>


Wednesday, January 31, 2024   Spotlights on Two of Our Arizona Program Graduates


Valedictorian Logan Stroop

For 2023 WECA Arizona Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship Valedictorian and WECA Arizona founding Member Contractor Corbins employee Logan Stroop, his WECA educational experience can be summed up in one word: “amazing.”

“It was an excellent blend of electrical theory and hands-on labs,” Logan says. “My WECA education gave me a strong foundation in ‘why’ we do what we do. It elevated me from a basic installer to a legitimate electrician capable of problem-solving based on the underlying principles of the issue.”

Logan credits a strong support system – in the classroom, on-the-job, and at home – to his success in WECA Arizona’s Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship Program.

“First and foremost, I’d like to give a shout-out to my wife, Lindsey. She is my serenity. Next, Instructor Keith Smart never shied away from a code challenge or failed to take the time to explain something until he knew I had a full understanding. He is an asset to the electrical community, ensuring that the next generation of electricians in Arizona have the tools to be successful. And my leadership at Corbins – David Pollard, Andy Blahak, Darin Johnson, Teryl Crank and Matt Apodaca, to name a few – always pushed me to be better and never accepted ‘good enough’ because they themselves strive to be great,” Logan says.

Logan’s striving for greatness doesn’t end with graduation – he acknowledges that the pursuit of education and advancement is a lifelong journey.

“You determine the quality of your life,” Logan says. “Take responsibility for your education and give it 100 percent. It will return whatever you put in tenfold. Never stop learning; always remain teachable. I am going to continue to grow as both an electrician and as a leader with Corbins. I have already begun to look at courses related to Construction Management, among others, to deepen my knowledge of this ever-growing field.”

Congratulations on your graduation, Logan! Your tenacious and enterprising work ethic will take you far, and WECA looks forward to sharing in your journey!

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Graduate Jordan Herrick

2023 WECA Arizona Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship graduate and WECA Member Contractor K2 Electric employee Jordan Herrick says that transferring to WECA from his previous educational institution was a “night and day transition” and cites WECA’s Apprenticeship model – with classes held during the daytime for two weeks per semester, allowing Apprentices to receive on-the-job training the rest of the time – as “the best of both worlds”.

“I switched from learning from a book to working hands-on with systems I encounter in the field,” Jordan says. “My instructor, Keith Smart, provided many real-world examples of the subject matter we were learning, and was able to help me understand content instead of just handing it to me. WECA is an enjoyable program that taught me things I use on-the-job every day; it gave me great problem-solving skills, the versatility to complete tasks, and progressed me to my full potential.” 

Jordan also credits WECA’s Apprenticeship program with helping him develop more confidence on-the-job.

“After my final semester at WECA, I became a journeyperson and began working as a foreman. Being in the position to make decisions that directly affect a jobsite can be stressful, but with the code knowledge I learned at WECA and on-site training with my employer, I now feel comfortable making those decisions and leading others,” Jordan says.

But the determination to succeed, drive to perform to the best of his ability, and desire to continually improve both personally and professionally all comes from Jordan, buoyed by support from his family, employer, and instructor Keith Smart.

“My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me from a young age and supported me throughout school and in life in general,” Jordan says. “I’m also grateful to K2 for investing their time and resources into progressing my skills and my future, and to Keith for his patience and willingness to make sure all students were confident with the curriculum and understood its importance.”

Post-graduation, Jordan looks forward to continuing his successful career at K2 and pushing himself to continually improve.

But before Jordan sets off on the next stage of his commercial electrical journey, he encourages current and future WECA Apprentices to “Enter class every day with an open mind and a willingness to learn. WECA will make you a better electrician, but you have to want to learn and succeed for yourself. If you are willing to put in the hard work to succeed, WECA will help you achieve.”

Congratulations, Jordan! We’re glad that WECA was the right program to help you accomplish your goal of becoming a journeyperson and a foreman, and are proud that our Apprenticeship program helped give you confidence to join the next generation of leaders in the Arizona electrical industry!

Read more >>


Wednesday, January 31, 2024   EC&M Profiled WECA's Original VR Development for its Apprenticeship Programs in Recent Article

Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Profiled WECA's Original Virtual Reality (VR) Development for its Apprenticeship Programs with Their Recent Article "How VR Tools Help Train Electrical Apprentices in BESS Inspection Skills"


 

Content courtesy of: Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M)

Tom Zind

Aiming to improve learning, connect with digital natives, and get a foothold on visualization technology’s cutting edge, Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA) is making an introductory bet on a virtual reality (VR) tool as an electrical skills training aid.

The group, which serves 300 merit shop electrical contractors in California, Arizona, and Utah with worker training programs and advocacy, has begun using a VR gaming app to help teach apprentices about commercial battery energy storage systems (BESS).

Apprentices in WECA’s commercial electrical program use the VR app to simulate a BESS pre-commissioning inspection. It effectively tests them on BESS knowledge imparted through traditional instruction in the power generation and distribution component of the comprehensive apprenticeship curriculum. Using VR headsets, apprentices walk through a mock inspection, locating specific components, completing checklist tasks, and answering questions that quiz them on their understanding of applicable code regulations.

Early indications are that the VR app (introduced in September and utilized by some six dozen apprentices through early November) is living up to expectations that it would improve the learning process. On one objective measure, test scores for the VR component of the BESS training are averaging higher than those for the two that precede it, says Michelle Gilkey, WECA’s chief growth and innovation officer. Additionally, all who’ve used it have passed, demonstrating skill and understanding. More importantly, perhaps, there’s anecdotal evidence that it delivers on a twin goal of blending measures of non-traditional learning and serious, high-quality instruction. 

“Our instructors have reported that they’ve observed students having greater engagement with the material as well as greater retention of component names, layout, and wiring after completing the VR simulations,” she says. “Apprentices who have had real world BESS experience prior to the class have reported that the VR simulation is accurate and realistic, and students who have not yet had BESS work in the field have mentioned that it helps them visualize what they may encounter in the near future.”

With the VR app successfully tested and now fully integrated into BESS training apprenticeship programs at five training centers, WECA will be looking for opportunities to expand on its vision for enhancing training with a fuller spectrum of extended reality (XR) tools. Suspecting that XR will markedly improve/expand training and aid recruitment of young, tech-engaged apprentices, WECA hopes to deliver on its board of directors’ commitment to “developing industry-leading advanced learning technologies focused on XR experiences to bring exciting, remote, and complex environments into WECA’s hands-on labs and classrooms,” Gilkey says.

That expansion would be guided by in-house instructional design teams, as well as member contractors and commercial partners like Canadian VR application developer Motive.io, which provided the content and technology expertise to get the VR app for BESS off the ground. Work is underway now, Gilkey says, on developing a VR tool for confined spaces safety training spanning the full apprenticeship curriculum; expanding the scope of VR in the BESS training; and developing an augmented reality-based lesson to complement enhancements to the data room lab portion of the low-voltage curriculum.

Contractors, whom Gilkey credits for shepherding the app’s development, will likely have a central role in XR development for training, given the importance of adapting the technology to the content, not vice versa. The lead WECA contractor representative in the BESS VR app project was Troy Robinson, general superintendent with Helix Electric, San Diego. He likes what he sees with the app, its ability to give a highly accurate representation of what a BESS looks like, and how it should be navigated. Moreover, it’s all in a safe environment, which is key to training, especially on something new and emerging like battery systems.

“The safety piece is big, just taking the potential risk out of the training equation, not having the hands-on lab part of this where you could get hurt,” he says, adding that VR could find application in training installers of solar systems, a market Helix is developing that will increasingly demand well-trained installers who can learn comprehensively in a safe environment.

But the priority for any training enhancement, he says, must remain efficiently and effectively delivering the knowledge that translates to skill in the field, and VR could be a silver bullet in that regard. That, too, is the priority of WECA as it moves ahead on the XR front, says Gilkey.

“We have a guiding principle in our XR development — we never seek to add technology just for technology’s sake,” she says. “Rather, we add it only when it allows us to go beyond physical lab limitations to truly expand our apprentices’ learning experience opportunities.”

View the article on their website. There's a registration wall, but it'll be free to view after registration.

Read more >>


Wednesday, January 31, 2024   GetWired Students Have Fun and Learn New Skills in Recent GetWired 104 Conduit-Bending Lab

If you can dream it, you conduit! (Sorry. We're sorry.)















Read more >>


Wednesday, January 31, 2024   WECA's Salt Lake City Region Training Center and Utah Headquarters Celebrates First Anniversary








 

Happy first anniversary to WECA's Salt Lake City Region Training Center and Utah headquarters!

On January 24, 2023, WECA opened its newest apprenticeship training center in Salt Lake City, Utah! It's been a wonderful year serving our members and apprentices in this new state.

Please join us in congratulating Utah Apprenticeship Manager and Lead Instructor Talon Pobuda on all his successful efforts there in the past year -- and here's to many, many more!

Read more >>


Wednesday, January 31, 2024   Now Available Online for Enrollment: WECA's Session 2 Catalog (Apr-Jun 2024)

Now Available Online for Enrollment: WECA's Session 2 Catalog (Apr-Jun 2024) for Electrician Trainees and Journeyperson Continuing Education


 

Announcement for WECA Electrician Trainees and Journeyperson Continuing Education Students and our Member Contractors who employ them: Our Spring 2024 (Apr - Jun) course catalog is now available on our website, and GetWired instructor-led classes always fill quickly. Be sure to enroll ASAP to get your spot!

View the Electrician Trainee course catalog

Jump to the Journeyperson continuing education course catalog
 

You can also enroll over the phone at (877) 444-9322, in person at our Rancho Cordova training facility, or by email at info@goweca.com.

Don't wait to secure your seat!



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And remember: there are now three different ways to take GetWired!

Watch our explainer video and get all your questions answered:

Read more >>


Wednesday, January 31, 2024   WECA's GetWired Training and Delivery Teams Kick Off New Year with Train the Trainer Meeting


 

WECA's GetWired training and delivery teams kicked off the New Year with their semi-annual virtual Train the Trainer meeting this month.

Galen Eckert, WECA's Online Education Manager for Electrician Trainee/Continuing Education Programs, says the team discussed topics like keeping students engaged, techniques to connect with students, the three ways that Electrician Trainees can pursue their GetWired course path to an Electrician Trainee Certificate with WECA, and more.

Thank you to all our GetWired instructors and everyone who works behind the scenes for their dedication to delivering premier online education and ensuring our students' success online and on-the-job!

Read more >>


Wednesday, January 31, 2024   Two WECA Apprenticeship Programs Have College Credit Recommendation Eligibility Renewed by NCCRS

WECA Commercial and Residential Electrical Apprentices: WECA's Commercial Electrical and Residential Electrical Apprenticeship Programs' College Credit Recommendation Eligibility Renewed by National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS)


 

WECA is pleased to announce that the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) has renewed the Commercial Electrical and Residential Electrical Apprenticeship programs' college credit recommendation eligibility for another five years.

This renewal will continue to allow WECA Commercial Electrical and Residential Electrical Apprenticeship graduates pursuing traditional college or university degrees after their apprenticeship to petition to receive college credits for the programs they have completed at WECA.

In their report assessing the Commercial Electrical and Residential Electrical Apprenticeship programs' continued eligibility for college credit recommendations, NCCRS' evaluation team members commented that course materials are excellent, comprehensive, and well-laid-out; course learning objectives are clear; and instructors are well-qualified.

(WECA's Low Voltage Apprenticeship program is similarly recommended for college credits, but is evaluated on a different cycle than our Commercial and Residential programs.)

Learn more about how Commercial, Residential, and Low Voltage Electrical Apprenticeship WECA Grads Can Seek College Credits for Program Completion

Read more >>


Wednesday, January 31, 2024   WECA Veteran Apprentices in California and Utah: The GI Bill Covers Your Electrician Licensing Fees

Content courtesy of: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Get paid back for test fees

The GI Bill covers more than just tuition. You can use part of your entitlement to cover the cost of certain tests you need to take to become a licensed professional--or to apply for college or a training course. We only cover tests approved for the GI Bill under this benefit, so find out what's approved before you take any tests.

What types of tests can I get paid back for through the GI Bill?

For licensing

If you're a veteran and you qualify for the GI Bill, you may be able to use part of your entitlement to cover test fees up to $2,000 for a job that requires a license in order for you to work.

You can use our search tool to learn which tests are covered and their costs. In the field that says "L&C Name", enter the name of the license or certification you're interested in.

Find out which tests are covered and how much they cost.

Note: If you don't see a test listed, it may be a valid test that's just not yet approved. Please submit an application for reimbursement.

What you should know if you're eligible for test benefits

  • We'll pay for tests for as many approved licenses you'd like.
  • We'll pay for tests even if you don't score high enough to get your license. You can take the same test as many times as you need.
  • We'll pay for you to retake a test you passed if you need to take it again to get recertified or retain a license you already have.
  • We won't pay for fees or costs related to getting the actual license document.
  • We won't pay more than $2,000 in fees for one test.

For tests taken after August 1, 2018, we'll prorate the entitlement charges under the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on the actual amount of the fee charged for the test.

How do I get this benefit?

For licensing

You'll need to fill out an Application for Reimbursement of Licensing or Certification Fees (VA Form 22-0803).

Get VA Form 22-0808 to download.

Note: Please turn in proof of payment with your application. Proof of payment can be a receipt showing you paid the testing fee.

Then, upload your completed form through QuickSubmit on AccessVA.

Upload your completed form using QuickSubmit on AccessVA.

Or mail your completed form to your VA regional processing office.

Find your VA regional processing office.

Who can I contact if I have questions?

Read more >>


Wednesday, January 31, 2024   WECA Apprentices: February Just Got a Little Sweeter

Access--Or Create an Account for--Your Complimentary SmartDollar Apprentice Benefit to Participate in February's SmartDollar Cash Giveaway


 

Content courtesy of: SmartDollar

February just got a little sweeter. SmartDollar's cash giveaway starts NOW.

The giveaway is live! And earning entries is simple. All you need to do is log into your SmartDollar account (or create one if you haven't already) and start using it. Best of all? You can earn entries every day.

There's no need to send us chocolates or flowers--your SmartDollar account and giveaway entries are free!

Now's the time to start using SmartDollar and winning with money.

You could win:

  • $500 Prize Each Week
  • $1,000 Budget Bonus Prize
  • $5,000 Grand Prize

Log into your account here or scroll below for directions on how to get started today.

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Not yet signed up for SmartDollar? No worries -- getting started is easy! Learn how below.

SmartDollar is a financial wellness benefit for WECA apprentices. We announced our partnership with the Dave Ramsey-founded online financial wellness platform in January, 2021 to provide our apprentices with a sound foundation in personal finance management. This benefit is available to all WECA apprentices free of charge. Not yet signed up for SmartDollar? No worries -- scroll to the bottom of this article for instructions!

What is SmartDollar? SmartDollar is a step-by-step approach to handling money with the number-one authority in personal finance, Dave Ramsey. More than 4.5 million people have started on Dave's plan and taken control of their money, and you can too! SmartDollar will equip you to get out of debt, on a budget, and on your way to a strong financial foundation.

The average person pays off $9,405 of debt and saves $6,127 in the first twelve months, and you can too!

"This program is powerful yet simple to understand. The Baby Steps make understanding how to win with money easy! Dave's lessons are fun, informative, and incredibly encouraging. It really doesn't feel like I'm taking a financial course. It's more like learning finances from a good friend...or a financially savvy stand-up comedian! The online tools are fantastic as well, and I love being able to 'ASK DAVE' any question and do my budget online. Love it all!" - Recent participant

With SmartDollar, you'll learn how to...

  • Jump-start your money
  • Knock out debt
  • Secure your dream home
  • Retire in style
  • Demystify your credit score

How does SmartDollar work? With so many ways to engage in SmartDollar activities and content, SmartDollar Points have been designed to encourage users to establish true behavior change. (Check out the graph below for a quick rundown). The greater the importance and required time of each activity, the greater the amount of points that can be earned. For example, each Core Lesson video completed is worth 250 points. Completing a shorter Deep Dive video is worth 50 points. Tracking a transaction in EveryDollar is only worth 20 points, but users are encouraged to track all their financial transactions with no points limitations. These example activities are key for building the confidence you need to reach your financial goals.







 

Taking advantage of your free financial wellness benefit, SmartDollar, is easy!

To set up your account after accessing your dashboard, click either of the links shown as highlighted in the screenshot to the right of this paragraph. You'll be taken to a page with a SmartDollar enrollment link, where you will be able to set up immediate access to this important benefit.

Ready to get started?

Login to your GOWECA dashboard

Read more >>


Thursday, January 18, 2024   WECA Political Update January 18, 2024

AGC Sues to Stop Biden's PLA Rule on Federal Construction Projects

The Associated General Contractors and its Louisiana chapter filed the lawsuit, saying, “Biden lacks the legal and constitutional authority to impose sweeping labor policies that undermine current labor agreements for union firms and discriminate against open shop contractors.” Story___

A Late Present from Mayor Todd to Building Trades

During his annual San Diego State of the City address, Mayor Todd Gloria announced that a citywide Project Labor Agreement, wholly negotiated behind closed doors, would soon be before the City Council.
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California Supreme Court Cases Employers Should Watch in 2024

The California Supreme Court issued several important decisions in 2023 about COVID-19 take-home exposure and arbitrating Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) claims. Employers should continue to be aware of several cases pending before the state’s high court. This story highlights what these cases could mean for California employers.
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CEQA 2023 Legislative Update

The 2023 legislative cycle saw another mixed bag of legislation dealing with CEQA “reform,” focusing on streamlining affordable housing development. While many bills died during the process, a few key laws were passed or extended over the past year. This story briefly summarizes those bills and their impact on CEQA.
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More Allegations Against Nathan Fletcher

The Voice of San Diego reports, “Nearly a year after Nathan Fletcher resigned from the County Board of Supervisors following allegations of sexual harassment and assault, new accusations against the former rising political star have emerged. CBS 8 reports that in a tort claim, UC San Diego professor Juli Beth Hinds claims that in the days after a former MTS employee filed a lawsuit against Fletcher, a student approached her to report she’d been on the receiving end of “harassing conduct” by Fletcher. For about a decade, Fletcher taught political science at UCSD. Hinds ultimately filed a Title IX complaint reporting Fletcher’s alleged harassment of her student in early April. According to her tort claim, that’s when the trouble started. In the weeks after filing the complaint, Hinds alleges the county retaliated by ending contracts with her outside consulting business. Hinds is seeking about $280,000 to recover what she says are lost wages.”
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Disclosure for Thee, but Not for Me

Politico reports, “In what one lawmaker described as a situation like ‘Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown,’ a bill that would require the California governor’s office to reveal diversity data regarding gubernatorial appointees is back on the table after Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed it for a third time last year. SB 782 is the fourth attempt by Sen. Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) to pass the measure, which has been watered down from its original 2021 version in hopes that Newsom would sign a narrower provision. Still, the governor has sent the bill back three times, citing cost, redundancy, and the reliability of self-reported data.”

In response to Newsom’s veto of last year’s bill (SB 702) Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) — a sponsor of the legislation — released a report finding that of Newsom’s 480 appointees to boards, commissions, agencies, and task forces last year, white people filled 52 percent of positions. Black and Latino appointees, the following two highest categories, comprised 28 percent of the combined roles.
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Fresno's City Council under new management...

Second-year Councilwoman Annalisa Perea was unanimously elected Council President. Perea, who is the third member of the family to serve at City Hall – both her father and brother sat on the dais at one point – replaced Esmeralda Soria after she reached her term limit in 2022. Now, she'll be tasked with gaveling in the raucous panel and leading budget negotiations with Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and his administration.
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Passage of Expansion of California Noncompetition Ban Requires Employers to Provide Notices to Employees and Former Employees by February 14, 2024

States continue to legislate the enforceability of post-employment restrictive covenants. As such, employers nationwide must be mindful of how state law impacts the drafting and enforcement of agreements restricting what a former employer can do after an employee leaves. Massachusetts employers must ensure they comply with the state's laws in which employees – and now former employees – live and work.

In California, Section 16600 of the Business and Professions Code of California (Section 16600) provides that “Every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void” unless it falls into a narrow statutory exception. Courts have consistently found that Section 16600 acts as a ban on non-competes, and in general, most employers and employees understand that to be the case. However, California has recently expanded its policy pronouncement through two notable laws – one requiring employers, including non-California employers, to act by February 14, 2024. More
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AB 51 Has Been Permanently Enjoined for Most Arbitration Agreements Covered by the FAA

Employers who feel undecided about mandatory employee arbitration agreements because of legal uncertainties can now be more confident. Assembly Bill 51 (Gonzalez D – San Diego), which banned mandatory arbitration agreements and imposed criminal liability on employers for using them, has now been permanently enjoined because it conflicted with federal law. Read on for an explanation of where we are, how we got here, and what to expect next. More
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Can the CPUC Fast Charge California's Transportation Electrification Goals? It Plans to Try

In recent years, California has seen significant growth in adopting zero-emission vehicles and charging infrastructure. Today, one in four vehicles sold in California is a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV), of which an overwhelming majority are electric vehicles (EVs). The biggest question is: Can California's charging infrastructure supply keep up with the demand? As California continues implementing its transportation electrification policies, the growth of ZEV use and charging infrastructure will require significant grid upgrades. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently issued a new Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR) to ensure that the deployment of charging infrastructure occurs while addressing the collateral effects of such rapid and sizable deployment. More
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Electric Disclosure

SB 382 (Becker, D – Menlo Park) will require sellers of single-family residential properties to provide prospective buyers with a notice stating that it may be advisable to obtain an inspection of the home’s electrical systems and a list of the various safety risks and other potential concerns arising from substandard, recalled, or faulty wiring and limited electrical capacity. WECA supports for now; the State Building and Construction Trades Council will probably demand the report be conducted only by a Skilled and Trained Workforce.
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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

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Thursday, January 11, 2024   2024 WECA Board Election Results

Please join us in congratulating those re-elected and newly elected to the 2024 WECA Board of Directors, WECA Apprenticeship Training Trust Board of Trustees, and WECA Health and Welfare and Pension Board of Trustees!

Board of Directors (serving three-year terms except as noted):

Greg Anderson (serving one-year term)

Tim Salyers

Troy Robinson

Dru Wells

Jay Taylor

 

Apprenticeship Training Trust Board of Trustees/Apprenticeship Training Committee (serving three-year terms):

Greg Anderson

Matt Apodaca

 

Health and Welfare and Pension Board of Trustees (serving three-year terms):

Clint Alessandro

Jay Taylor

Read more >>


Thursday, January 11, 2024   11 WECA Member Contractors Make Sacramento Business Journal's Annual Top Electrical Contractors List



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Thursday, January 11, 2024   GoGreen Business: Get Financing for Your Customers with Interest Rates as Low as 0%


 

Content courtesy of: GoGreen Financing, a State of California Program

Looking for low-interest financing options with quick approvals and flexible terms? GoGreen Business Energy Financing is a State of California program offering enhanced financing through private lenders for energy upgrades. Through its Go Low Rates promotion, GoGreen Business is providing up to $10,000 per project to buy down interest rates on a wide variety of energy-saving measures.

That means you can offer your customers reduced interest rates -- as low as 0% -- on projects from $5,000 to $5 million. Rates and terms are at the discretion of the lender. What's more, participating finance companies are offering options for pre-funding and progress payments, so you don't have to operate out of pocket!

And there are no dealer fees for you or your customer to participate in GoGreen Business.

Customers must receive fuel from an investor-owned utility (PG&E, SDG&E, SCE) and meet program eligibility requirements for small/medium businesses. GoGreen Business is a utility-supported, State of California-administered financing program.

Learn more about becoming a contractor partner

Download a customer-facing flyer here.

Read more >>


Thursday, January 11, 2024   Two WECA Apprenticeship Programs Have College Credit Recommendations Renewed by NCCRS

WECA's Commercial Electrical and Residential Electrical Apprenticeship Programs' College Credit Recommendation Eligibility Renewed by National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS)


 

WECA is pleased to announce that the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) has renewed the Commercial Electrical and Residential Electrical Apprenticeship programs' college credit recommendation eligibility for another five years.

This renewal will continue to allow WECA Commercial Electrical and Residential Electrical Apprenticeship graduates pursuing traditional college or university degrees after their apprenticeship to petition to receive college credits for the programs they have completed at WECA.

In their report assessing the Commercial Electrical and Residential Electrical Apprenticeship programs' continued eligibility for college credit recommendations, NCCRS' evaluation team members commented that course materials are excellent, comprehensive, and well-laid-out; course learning objectives are clear; and instructors are well-qualified.

(WECA's Low Voltage Apprenticeship program is similarly recommended for college credits, but is evaluated on a different cycle than our Commercial and Residential programs.)

Learn more about how Commercial, Residential, and Low Voltage Electrical Apprenticeship WECA Grads Can Seek College Credits for Program Completion

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Thursday, January 11, 2024   WECA California Members: Access Free Prevailing Wage/Labor Compliance Webinars in 2024 Below

The WECA team regularly monitors the schedule and availability of compliance training for our Members. Though the California Department of Industrial Relations (CA DIR)'s website has not yet posted information for 2024, we want to apprise our Members of upcoming Prevailing Wage/Labor Compliance webinars for 2024 that we have located on the website of the Foundation for Fair Contracting. This is typically the organization that CA DIR has used for public works training and our review of their website shows their 2024 schedule was posted in partnership with the Labor Commissioner's Office.

WECA Members may wish to explore and sign up for these free trainings before they fill up.

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Thursday, January 11, 2024   CA Labor Commissioner's Office Reminds Employers about Expansion of Paid Sick Leave in 2024


 

Content courtesy of: California Labor Commissioner's Office

The California Labor Commissioner's Office (LCO) is reminding employers that California's paid sick leave law has been expanded starting on January 1, 2024. Employers must allow workers to use at least 40 hours or five days of paid sick leave per year, an increase from the current 24 hours or three days. Some cities or regions in California may require employers to provide additional sick leave.

The LCO has created an informational Paid Sick Leave factsheet that explains how workers qualify and can use paid sick leave. The fact sheet is also available in Spanish. For more details, review the Paid Sick Leave Frequently Asked Questions.

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Thursday, January 11, 2024   Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under the Fair Labor Standards Act


 

Content courtesy of: U.S. Department of Labor

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the issuance of a final rule to help employers and workers analyze whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The announcement follows a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on October 13, 2022, which led to thousands of comments from a diverse array of stakeholders that helped inform the regulatory updates.

The final rule, Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, provides guidance on whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor under the FLSA. Misclassification is a serious issue that denies employees’ rights and protections under federal labor laws and hurts the economy at-large. The Department believes this final rule will protect workers from misclassification, while at the same time providing a consistent approach for those businesses that engage (or wish to engage) with independent contractors.

It is the Department’s obligation to administer and enforce the FLSA to ensure that workers who should be covered under the Act are properly classified as employees. This final rule ensures that such workers receive the FLSA’s wage and hour protections, and that employers that comply with the law are not placed at a competitive disadvantage when competing against employers that misclassify employees. The final rule also aligns the department’s approach with longstanding judicial precedent, which will reduce confusion, improve compliance, and better protect working people.

Specifically, the final rule does the following:  

  • Restores the multifactor, totality-of-the-circumstances analysis to assess whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the FLSA. 
  • Ensures that all factors are analyzed without assigning a predetermined weight to a particular factor or set of factors. 
  • Uses the longstanding interpretation of the economic reality factors. These factors include opportunity for profit or loss depending on managerial skill, investments by the worker and the potential employer, the degree of permanence of the work relationship, the nature and degree of control, the extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the potential employer’s business, and the worker’s skill and initiative. 
  • Rescinds the 2021 Independent Contractor Rule.

For more information, please visit: Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

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Thursday, January 4, 2024   WECA Political Update January 4, 2024

First Political Bulletin of 2024

Whew, that didn’t take long. Larry David says you can say that until January 7, so use it generously this week.

If it felt like 2023 zipped by, 2024 could be more drawn out. That’s because it’s a leap year, and people born on February 29, 2020, can finally turn one. The 366-day year also means you’ll have to dig out your calendar from 1996 for the most recent match to 2024. And keep your 2023 calendar in a safe place—you’ll be able to use it again in 2034. Fun fact: there are only 14 possible calendar configurations.
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The National Debt Is Now More Than $34 Trillion. What Does That Mean?

The gross federal debt of the United States has surpassed $34,000,000,000,000. Although the debt affects each of us, it may be difficult to put such a large number into perspective and fully understand its implications. The $34 trillion gross federal debt includes debt held by the public and debt held by federal trust funds and other government accounts. In very basic terms, this can be thought of as debt that the government owes to others plus debt that it owes to itself.  America’s high and rising debt matters because it threatens our economic future. The coronavirus pandemic rapidly accelerated our fiscal challenges, but we were already on an unsustainable path, with structural drivers that existed long before the pandemic. Putting our nation on a better fiscal path will help ensure a stronger and more resilient economy for the future. Story
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Cease-Fire Protest Halts California Legislative Session

Politico reports “Hundreds of cease-fire activists interrupted California lawmakers' return to the Capitol on Wednesday, forcing the state Assembly to adjourn for the afternoon. The protesters filled the chamber’s gallery and began chanting and singing “cease-fire now” soon after the Assembly gaveled open its first floor session of the year. They demanded lawmakers call for an end to the Israel-Hamas conflict that has killed thousands of civilians. Assemblymember Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles) called the demonstration “a powerful showing of civil disobedience.”
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Amendments to California Anti-Retaliation Laws Facilitate Employee Lawsuits

Soon it will be easier for California employees to establish a prima facie retaliation claim in violation of California law. On October 8, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill No. 497 into law. Also referred to as the Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act, the legislation amends California Labor Code Sections 98.6, 1102.5 and 1197.5 and will create a presumption of retaliation when an employer takes an adverse employment action against an employee within 90 days of the employee engaging in conduct protected under any of the specified Labor Code sections. Story
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A Look at New California Labor and Employment Laws for 2024

The California Legislature has enacted numerous new laws impacting the workplace in 2024. This Holland & Knight alert summarizes select employment laws that go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, unless stated otherwise. Story
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764,000 Undocumented California Immigrants Became Eligible for Medi-Cal This Week

Why it matters: California extended comprehensive health care benefits to 26 to 49-year-old undocumented immigrants on Jan 1. Despite a $68 billion deficit, Gov. Newsom's budget directs $4 billion to the expansion.
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See You in the Box

A long-simmering fight over a term widely considered to be a slur for Native American women will go to Fresno County voters in March.

A 2022 state law authored by Assemblymember James Ramos requires the term “squaw” to be removed from all geographic features and place names in the state, including sites like Squaw Lake and Squaw Leap in Fresno County. The federal government last year renamed Squaw Valley as Yokuts Valley.

But Fresno County supervisors stymied in their attempts to sue the state are backing a ballot measure to give their board explicit control over the naming of geographic features or placing names through an amended county charter.

Measure B is backed by Fresno County Supervisors Nathan Magsig and Steve Brandau, who argue it’s an issue of local control. “This charter amendment, if passed, will send a clear message to the Board of Supervisors, Sacramento, and Washington; the voters of Fresno County want decisions related to name changes to remain at the local level,” the two supervisors wrote in an argument in favor of the measure.

Among the dissenters are Ramos, Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, and state Sen. Anna Caballero, who argue that the measure will reverse the renaming of Yokuts Valley and perpetuate prejudice against Native women.

“California has moved beyond the days when willful ignorance of native peoples prevailed,” the opposition argued. “Words matter. Offensive slurs are not protected speech.” The measure will appear on Fresno County's March primary ballot.
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Arizona Businesses Required to File New Paperwork Starting Jan. 1, 2024

Beginning in 2024, some Arizona businesses and people with substantial control of a company will need to file new identifying paperwork or face fines, according to Arizona officials. The Corporate Transparency Act was signed into law in January 2021 to “combat money laundering and other illegal activities,” according to the Arizona Corporation Commission. More
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Utah Contest to Replace Mitt Romney in U.S. Senate Gains More GOP Candidates

John Curtis, a fourth-term U.S. House member from Provo, Utah, will join the Republican field to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, Curtis told States Newsroom ahead of a formal announcement Wednesday morning. Curtis is a late entrant in the Utah GOP primary race, which includes former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and a hard-right favorite, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs. In addition to Wilson and Staggs, Brent Orrin Hatch, the son of the late U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, filed paperwork Tuesday to run for the seat. Sen. Hatch served for 42 years before his retirement in 2019. Story
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Beavers on the Loose

California state and tribal agencies released a family of beavers in Plumas County in the Sierra Nevada this fall to re-establish a breeding population there, the first such release of beavers in the state in almost 75 years, The Sacramento Bee reports. The project was led by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Maidu Summit Consortium, a nonprofit devoted to conserving the land and culture of the Mountain Maidu people. Together, the groups released seven beavers into a creek on a tract of tribal land in Plumas County, where the beaver population was abundant before pioneers settled the area. The release represents a milestone in the efforts by the state and the Maidu to conserve the region’s ecosystem. Beavers play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, and their aquatic engineering can help make their environments more climate resilient. “It’s good to have them back home again,” Maidu Summit Consortium chairman Ben Cunningham told the news outlet. “The beavers are back where they belong.”
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Friend of WECA and San Diego Republican Carl DeMaio reported raising $951,000 in the first 24 days of his campaign for Assembly District 75 – currently represented by Republican Marie Waldron, who is termed out this year.
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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 full report here

Read more >>


Thursday, December 28, 2023   WECA and Corbins join forces to support Grand Canyon University's Electrical Pre-Apprenticeship





In late 2022, Grand Canyon University in Arizona created a fifteen-week electrical pre-apprenticeship program to help meet the large demand for skilled electricians in Arizona.

To ensure the program's success, Grand Canyon University stipulated that the program would focus on what was best for the electrical trade and strive to connect that talent to merit shops and union shops alike, according to Heath Anderson, WECA Arizona's Outreach and Workforce Development Specialist.

In 2023, WECA and Arizona founding Member Contractor Corbins joined the Academic Advisory Board to support the program.

When the Fall 2023 term began, there were 120 students enrolled in the program -- the largest group yet! During the term, students worked with supporting electrical contractors -- such as Corbins -- on various activities.

WECA attended four sessions at the Corbins facility, where students learned more about the career opportunities available to them and assessed what they had learned during the program. During these sessions, WECA interacted with the students, showcased our Apprenticeship program, and touted the benefits of working for a WECA Member Contractor.

Of the 120 students initially enrolled in the program, 109 completed their studies. On December 12, these 109 graduates were joined by family and friends to celebrate their milestone. WECA and Corbins also attended the celebration to connect with and support the students and their guests.

"WECA eagerly anticipates seeing many of these students in our classrooms and labs at our Phoenix Apprenticehsip Training Center soon," says Heath.





Read more >>


Thursday, December 28, 2023   WECA's Heath Anderson Visits Industry Partner ToolWatch's Women in Construction Innovation Podcast

Heath Anderson, WECA Arizona's Outreach and Workforce Development Specialist, was a guest on WECA Industry Partner ToolWatch's Dec. 22 Women in Construction Innovation Podcast episode.

During the episode, Heath talked to Janan Guillaume (ToolWatch's Vice President of Product) and Sam Miller (ToolWatch's Construction Operations and EHS System Account Executive) about WECA's involvement with the BuildItAZ apprenticeship initiative, how to encourage more women to pursue careers in the electrical industry, workplace diversity, the importance of apprenticeship programs, and more.

Click the image above or click here to be redirected to the podcast.

Read more >>


Thursday, December 28, 2023   WECA Arizona Member Contractor K2 Electric Makes a Phoenix Business Journal "Best" List



WECA Arizona Member Contractor K2 Electric is ending the year on a high note -- by making the Phoenix Business Journal's list for "Best Phoenix-Area Places to Work - Midsize"! Congratulations and well done on the accolade! 
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Thursday, December 28, 2023   WECA Member Contractors: Share this scholarship opportunity with your Apprentices

Western Electrical Contractors Education Foundation (WECEF) introduces the Frank Vellutini Memorial Apprenticeship Scholarship 2024



Frank Vellutini, longtime owner of Royal Electric and a WECA member since 1971, was actively involved with WECA and responsible for extraordinary contributions to WECA's growth and success for many years. Frank served on the WECA Board of Directors and the WECA Apprenticeship and Training Trust from 1992 to 2015. Royal Electric was one of the founding members that established the Western Electrical Contractors Education Foundation (WECEF). WECEF is pleased to offer a scholarship opportunity once again for students enrolled in a WECA Apprenticeship program. This scholarship is now offered in memory of Frank Vellutini.

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APPLICATION ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS TO PARTICIPATE:

  • Active WECA apprentice at time of application and award.
  • COMPLETION AND PASSING of at least 1 WECA apprenticeship semester course by December 31, 2023.
  • California - Available Discipline Points requirement as of December 31, 2023: Commercial Apprentice = 40; Residential and Low Voltage = 25.
  • Arizona and Utah - Available Discipline Points requirement as of December 31, 2023: Commercial Apprentice = 30.
  • No violation notifications of student conduct as outlined in the Apprentice Student Handbook within the past two years. 
  • Accurate completion of the scholarship application and answers to all questions, by the deadline of January 21, 2024. Late applications will not be considered. 
  • Accelerated apprentices are not eligible.
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AWARDS:

Depending on the quality and quantity of the applications, up to 15 recipients will be awarded. Awards are intended to offset costs of tools, books, and other educational expenses used in the electrical trade. 

  • Each monetary award will be between $500.00 and $1500.00.

The WECEF Board of Directors will review applications from eligible candidates. All applicants will be notified of the committee's final decision within 1 month of the application deadline, by email. 

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HOW TO APPLY:

Applications may only be submitted through an Apprentice's WECA Apprenticeship Learning Management System (Brightspace) account at learn.goweca.com. Encourage your apprentices to login there to access further instructions and the scholarship application.

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Note: WECEF will be running a separate scholarship round for WECA Electrician Trainees in early 2024.


 
Read more >>


Thursday, December 21, 2023   WECEF introduces the Frank Vellutini Memorial Apprenticeship Scholarship 2024



Frank Vellutini, longtime owner of Royal Electric and a WECA member since 1971, was actively involved with WECA and responsible for extraordinary contributions to WECA's growth and success for many years. Frank served on the WECA Board of Directors and the WECA Apprenticeship and Training Trust from 1992 to 2015. Royal Electric was one of the founding members that established the Western Electrical Contractors Education Foundation (WECEF). WECEF is pleased to offer a scholarship opportunity once again for students enrolled in a WECA Apprenticeship program. This scholarship is now offered in memory of Frank Vellutini.

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APPLICATION ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS TO PARTICIPATE:

  • Active WECA apprentice at time of application and award.
  • COMPLETION AND PASSING of at least 1 WECA apprenticeship semester course by December 31, 2023.
  • California - Available Discipline Points requirement as of December 31, 2023: Commercial Apprentice = 40; Residential and Low Voltage = 25.
  • Arizona and Utah - Available Discipline Points requirement as of December 31, 2023: Commercial Apprentice = 30.
  • No violation notifications of student conduct as outlined in the Apprentice Student Handbook within the past two years. 
  • Accurate completion of the scholarship application and answers to all questions, by the deadline of January 21, 2024. Late applications will not be considered. 
  • Accelerated apprentices are not eligible.
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AWARDS:

Depending on the quality and quantity of the applications, up to 15 recipients will be awarded. Awards are intended to offset costs of tools, books, and other educational expenses used in the electrical trade. 

  • Each monetary award will be between $500.00 and $1500.00.

The WECEF Board of Directors will review applications from eligible candidates. All applicants will be notified of the committee's final decision within 1 month of the application deadline, by email. 

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HOW TO APPLY:

Applications may only be submitted through your WECA Apprenticeship Learning Management System (Brightspace) account at learn.goweca.com. Login there to access further instructions and the scholarship application.

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Note: WECEF will be running a separate scholarship round for WECA Electrician Trainees in early 2024.


 
Read more >>


Thursday, December 21, 2023   Journeypersons; Electrician Trainees: Learn a new skillset in 2024 with Perfect Solar Installations

Journeypersons and Electrician Trainees: Learn a new skillset in the New Year with our 32 hour, self-paced "Perfect Solar Installations" course

This course is an acceptable elective towards the Electrician Trainee Program Certificate

Watch Bill Garr, WECA Lead Instructor for Electrician Trainee/Continuing Education Programs, walk you through a quick guide to crimping and assembling an MC4 connector, in this excerpt from the course:




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Perfect Solar Installations

Recommended Prerequisites: This course is suitable for journeypersons and all electrician trainees with the prerequisite experience. Prerequisites include completion of Get Wired 101-102 or equivalent, basic experience with series and parallel connections, series and parallel basic calculations, proficiency with the NEC (National Electrical Code), and at least 6 months of on-the-job experience.

This self-paced course introduces the electrician trainee and journeyperson to the basics of electrical code compliance when installing solar photovoltaic systems. The course will explore Article 690 - Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems of the NEC using an exciting set of 360° images, photographs, illustrations, and diagrams. A 360-interactive installation simulation, a solar connector wiring lab, and application of the requirements of Article 690 are also included.

Total class hours available: 32

Tuition fee: $269

Click here to learn more about and enroll in Perfect Solar Installations!


 

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Thursday, December 21, 2023   Snaps from this month at our San Diego Training Facility

Commercial Electrical and Low Voltage Apprentices in the lab

Instructor and Curriculum Developer Neil Pesarillo sent us some snaps from classes this month in San Diego. Enjoy this instructor's-eye-view!













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Thursday, December 21, 2023   WECA's Student Referral Service (SRS): Connect with a great employer today!

If you're looking for work as an Electrician Trainee in Kern County, you're in high demand!

If you're an unemployed Electrician Trainee residing in or near the Kern County area, we have excellent news for you -- WECA Member Contractors in your area are looking to employ you right now!

WECA's Student Referral Service is a conduit to introduce our current Electrician Trainees, Journeyperson Continuing Education students, and WECA Grads to our Member Contractors. It's meant for students or grads who are currently out of work, to help them find a great new position.

There is no charge to Student or Member to use our Student Referral Service. WECA's Student Referral Service provides additional customer service by having WECA staff provide hands-on referrals, taking some of that work off your plate.  

This is a free, no-obligation service. WECA's purpose in providing this service is to help our Member Contractors find the qualified workers they need. 

Three ways to sign up for the Student Referral Service today, with high demand in Kern County:

  1. Contact Trisha Hughes, Client Services ET/CE Specialist, at thughes@goweca.com
  2. Or call our office and ask to speak with her at 1-877-444-9322
  3. Or fill out the SRS sign-up form on our website.
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Thursday, December 21, 2023   WECA Commercial Electrical Apprentices: are you taking full advantage of your benefits?

Learn more about United Healthcare's Member Assistance Program, available to you at NO EXTRA COST

United Healthcare's Member Assistance Program (aka Employee Assistance Program, or EAP) provides help you may need, at no extra cost, such as counseling sessions, legal consultations, mental health and wellness apps, and more. Review everything available to you below, and download this flyer for future access.



Download United Healthcare's Member Assistance Program flyer.
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Thursday, December 21, 2023   WECA Commercial Apprentices: Refresh your knowledge of the WECA Dependent Coverage Payment Policy

WECA Commercial Electrical Apprentices with Dependent Coverage: Have you reviewed WECA's Dependent Coverage Payment Policy lately?

Here are some key reminders, and we encourage you to download and read the full policy below.

  • Your payment is due on the 25th of each month prior to the coverage month. 
  • The run date for all credit/debit cards is the same date every month; even on holidays and weekends. 
  • If we don't receive your payment on time (it's considered late as of the 26th each month), you'll be in jeopardy of immediate cancellation of your dependent coverage. 
  • If your credit or debit card is declined, we'll notify you and give you 3 business days to pay or be cancelled. 
Click here to download the updated version of WECA's Dependent Coverage Payment policy
 
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Thursday, December 21, 2023   Meet John Berkhoel, WECA's new Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Training and Facilities Manager


 

WECA’s new Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Training and Facilities Manager, John Berkhoel, lives by the motto “Find what you love to do and be the best at it.”

Case in point: after graduating from Universal Technical Institute (UTI)’s Automotive/Diesel program, receiving a bachelor’s degree from American Trinity University, and becoming an ASE Master Certified automotive technician, John worked as an automotive technician for Honda and Acura for 15 years and taught automotive classes at UTI for 18 years. While at UTI, John also served as an Education Manager, Facilities Director, and Admissions Representative, won an instructor of the year award twice, and worked with the State of California to bring the state’s Smog Certification Training Program to UTI’s Rancho Cucamonga campus. John further diversified his resume by working for Holt/Caterpillar of California as a Main Shop Supervisor in their Earthmoving division and as a Field Admissions Representative for WyoTech in Oregon before teaching automotive classes at Buena Park High School just prior to joining WECA.

John’s extensive experience in the trades will help him ensure that WECA’s Apprenticeship programs deliver the greatest student experiences and outcomes. 

“I want to ensure that WECA remains the gold standard of apprenticeship training, and I want our facilities to support and represent our training programs at the highest level,” says John.

John’s complementary educational and professional background have also helped him feel right at home at WECA.

“I love the culture and the team I get to work with here at WECA,” says John. “I love the industry we train for and that we train students in a skill that sets them up for a successful career. I’m sure it’s a game-changer for many of them.”

With over 30 years of working and teaching in the trades under his toolbelt, John has amassed plenty of wisdom. His advice for apprentices includes “Set goals, work hard, do good work, never give up, and do things with integrity. As you find your own success, don’t forget to help those who are coming up behind you. Oh, and always turn in your timecards on time!”

Outside of work, John’s interests are as varied as his educational and professional background.

“I enjoy getting out and riding my Harley-Davidson locally, mostly on the weekends and during the summer,” says John of his free time. “My friend and I like to do long road trips. We’ve covered 12 states in the last three summers. I also enjoy mountain biking when I can, and I also enjoy doing nothing.”

WECA is excited to have John on board to help with all of our Apprenticeship training and facilities initiatives. With six facilities across three states—and you never know where we might grow next—it’s no small job, but we know John is up to the task. 

Read more >>


Thursday, December 21, 2023   Electrician Trainee Certificate Program Students, it's time to think about 2024!

Plan your next courses now and set yourself up for continued success

No matter where you're at in your Electrician Trainee Program Certificate journey, taking a few minutes to plot your route to the destination (graduation and taking the State exam to become a certified electrician!) helps ensure a smooth ride without unexpected curves and twists.

Check out your Roadmap to an Electrician Trainee Program Certificate with WECA above (download and save at the link below) and plan the next phase of your journey!

Download the Roadmap to an Electrician Trainee Program Certificate from WECA.
 
Read more >>


Thursday, December 21, 2023   WECA Apprentices using your SmartDollar Financial Wellness Benefit: Taxes just got easier

File your taxes for FREE in 2024 with SmartDollar, your complimentary WECA Apprenticeship benefit!


 

Content courtesy of SmartDollar

The New Year is just a couple of weeks away and one of the first things that comes up is Tax Season. People start thinking about their taxes shortly after the first of the year and now you can file your taxes for free through SmartDollar.

Let us say that again. SmartDollar users can file their taxes for free! Breathe a little easier this coming tax season with Ramsey SmartTax resources, available to you through your dashboard.

-----------------------

Not yet signed up for SmartDollar? No worries -- getting started is easy! Learn how below.

SmartDollar is a financial wellness benefit for WECA apprentices. We announced our partnership with the Dave Ramsey-founded online financial wellness platform in January, 2021 to provide our apprentices with a sound foundation in personal finance management. This benefit is available to all WECA apprentices free of charge. Not yet signed up for SmartDollar? No worries -- scroll to the bottom of this article for instructions!

What is SmartDollar? SmartDollar is a step-by-step approach to handling money with the number-one authority in personal finance, Dave Ramsey. More than 4.5 million people have started on Dave's plan and taken control of their money, and you can too! SmartDollar will equip you to get out of debt, on a budget, and on your way to a strong financial foundation.

The average person pays off $9,405 of debt and saves $6,127 in the first twelve months, and you can too!

"This program is powerful yet simple to understand. The Baby Steps make understanding how to win with money easy! Dave's lessons are fun, informative, and incredibly encouraging. It really doesn't feel like I'm taking a financial course. It's more like learning finances from a good friend...or a financially savvy stand-up comedian! The online tools are fantastic as well, and I love being able to 'ASK DAVE' any question and do my budget online. Love it all!" - Recent participant

With SmartDollar, you'll learn how to...

  • Jump-start your money
  • Knock out debt
  • Secure your dream home
  • Retire in style
  • Demystify your credit score
How does SmartDollar work? With so many ways to engage in SmartDollar activities and content, SmartDollar Points have been designed to encourage users to establish true behavior change. (Check out the graph below for a quick rundown). The greater the importance and required time of each activity, the greater the amount of points that can be earned. For example, each Core Lesson video completed is worth 250 points. Completing a shorter Deep Dive video is worth 50 points. Tracking a transaction in EveryDollar is only worth 20 points, but users are encouraged to track all their financial transactions with no points limitations. These example activities are key for building the confidence you need to reach your financial goals.






 

Taking advantage of your free financial wellness benefit, SmartDollar, is easy!

To set up your account after accessing your dashboard, click either of the links shown as highlighted in the screenshot to the right of this paragraph. You'll be taken to a page with a SmartDollar enrollment link, where you will be able to set up immediate access to this important benefit.

Ready to get started?

Login to your GOWECA dashboard




 
Read more >>


Thursday, December 21, 2023   WECA Political Update December 21, 2023

Last Political Bulletin of 2023

Thanks for reading this mashup of news and views of the political world in California and beyond. I hope readers and those important to you have a calm and enjoyable holiday season; I think in 2025, we will look back and remark, “I miss 2023.” Be well.
___

Biden Mandates PLAs on Large Federal Contracts

On Monday, the White House announced the implementation of an executive order to require project labor agreements on federal construction jobs above $35 million. Merry Christmas NBTU! You can read the union-drafted Biden talking points in the Dive article.

While PLAs have been used on large-scale federal construction projects for almost a century, including building the Hoover Dam in 1936, they haven’t been used for most high-cost federal construction projects.

The Biden administration said the Department of Energy plans to incorporate PLAs into the $7 billion regional clean hydrogen hubs program announced in October to create a national clean hydrogen network for heavy-duty industries such as transportation.

ABC issued a strong statement opposing the rule here. If you’d like to contact your federal representatives about this EO, you can do so here.
___

Biden to Apprentices: “You’re Fired”

The Wall Street Journal notes, “The Labor Department used 776 pages to rewrite a two-page 1937 law with the goal of limiting non-union worker training. DOL’s manifest goal is to limit non-union programs that don’t result in more union jobs. The rule would let the department dissolve programs accused by unions of misconduct or found to be non-compliant with minor government regulations and DEI benchmarks.” Story

With a slightly different take, Construction Dive seems to mostly repeat the NBTU, er, I mean Biden Administration talking points. “The rule intends to strengthen labor standards and worker protections as well as better promote apprenticeship pathways, among other things.” Story
___

Under #carefulwhatyouaskfor, Overtime Law Intended to Help California Farmworkers. New Study Says It Led to Less Money

The Sacramento Bee reports “A California law requiring agricultural employers to pay overtime has led to some farmworkers making less money. That’s according to a new UC Berkeley study, which is the first to explore the effects of the 2016 legislation. The law, Assembly Bill 1066, added agricultural workers in the state to federal overtime rules. They were previously excluded from the rules, which have existed since the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The state’s policy took effect in 2019 and mandated a gradual phase-in of overtime hours based on employer size. Early research by Alexandra E. Hill, an assistant professor of Cooperative Extension at UC Berkeley, indicates that the law has resulted in a negative financial impact for workers. Hill said many farmworkers are not working overtime and their take-home pay has decreased as a result of employers reducing hours. The study estimates about 10% of workers are earning $100 to $200 less on their weekly paychecks. Story
___

Recall

Politico reports, “State Sen. Aisha Wahab is a step closer to facing a recall election following a tumultuous first year in the Legislature that included authoring historic gun legislation and backing a failed effort to ban caste discrimination that drew large protests at the Capitol. A recall petition was certified for circulation Friday by the secretary of state. Organizers have until May 23 to collect 42,802 signatures — 20 percent of the total ballots cast in her 2022 election — to force a recall vote next year in her Bay Area district. A website set up by her opponents criticizes her for not doing enough to address crime and public safety in the district, neglecting constituents, and “flip-flopping” on issues. They cite several pieces of legislation, including a proposal to ban caste discrimination that Newsom vetoed amid strong opposition from Indian Americans. Recall organizer Ritesh Tandon, who has previously run for Congress as a Republican, did not return a message seeking comment. Wahab’s office also did not respond to a request for comment. If the recall effort receives enough valid signatures, election officials will certify the petition by July, and a recall vote will be held later in 2024.
___

Will Demand for Union Labor Pact Kill $100 Million, 1,000 Job Fresno Project?

The GV Wire writes, “During a presentation to the Fresno Chamber of Commerce this week, Alex Tavlian said Fresno councilmembers Miguel Arias and Luis Chavez opposed a vital development project because developers did not agree to a PLA. Arias and Chavez declined to comment for this story when approached by GV Wire in council chambers on Thursday. Both are running for the same Fresno County Board of Supervisors seat against incumbent Sal Quintero.” Story
___

California Labor Commissioner Publishes Updated FAQ for California Paid Sick Leave

The Labor Commissioner recently published an updated Frequently Asked Questions page to cover changes made by SB 616.
___

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 full report here

Read more >>


Thursday, December 14, 2023   Get to know WECA's new Industry Partner, ToolWatch




WECA’s new Industry Partner, ToolWatch, uniquely serves the needs of WECA’s Member Contractors because it was founded by an electrical contractor with the needs of electrical contractors in mind. Over 30 years ago, founder Don Kafka started ToolWatch to develop systems that help contractors track tools, reduce tool loss, and save precious time looking for misplaced tools. Since its inception, ToolWatch has expanded its broad suite of solutions to deliver comprehensive construction operations software that helps contractors streamline productivity and propel their success.

“ToolWatch is a cloud-based platform consisting of two solutions, asset management and EHS (environmental health and safety) management,” says the ToolWatch team. “The platform was designed to help construction firms power better project outcomes with real-time asset and safety operations data.”

ToolWatch decided to partner with WECA because of “its deep roots in the electrical industry and our ongoing commitment to supporting its growth,” according to the ToolWatch team. ToolWatch aims to provide WECA Member Contractors with “cutting-edge solutions” that deliver valuable insight into best practices, safety standards, and tailored technological solutions to meet their unique operational needs. 

The first solution – ToolWatch Asset Operations – gives contractors real-time asset data to streamline collaboration between their job sites, warehouses, and offices. Asset Operations uses a job site portal and a mobile app to simplify the return and request process for tools, equipment, materials, and consumables while on-the-job. For warehouses, Asset Operations offers visibility into asset locations, which allows for inventory management, optimal equipment uptime, and support for field projects in the warehouse. And for the offices, Asset Operations provides operational control, which makes timely delivery and accurate billings possible.

The second solution – ToolWatch EHS Management – offers user-friendly, field-tested safety solutions and data-driven insights to enhance the health, safety, and productivity of a company and its employees. ToolWatch EHS helps contractors complete various safety tasks and processes, such as compliance inspections, reports, Job Safety Analyses, on-site training, and more.

“Unlike other solutions available to contractors, ToolWatch offers a comprehensive construction operations platform that unites the field, warehouse, and back office on a single platform that reduces operational waste, improves safety, and drives productivity on the job site. ToolWatch partners with our customers through a suite of professional services to ensure our customers have the training and implementation support they need to be successful. Additionally, ToolWatch integrates with other key business solutions to drive operational visibility, efficiency, and accuracy, and the system comes with outstanding U.S.-based support and world-class customer service,” says the ToolWatch team.

WECA Member Contractors who choose to utilize ToolWatch’s solutions will benefit from industry-leading construction safety and asset management solutions available on a single platform with responsive and personalized customer service. If you are interested in implementing ToolWatch’s solutions within your company, click here to learn more or reach out directly to Samantha Miller, Platform Account Executive, at smiller@toolwatch.com or (480) 280-9899. 

Learn more about ToolWatch here:

ToolWatch Overview

ToolWatch EHS Management

Read more >>


Thursday, December 14, 2023   Meet John Berkhoel, WECA's new Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Training and Facilities Manager


 

WECA’s new Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Training and Facilities Manager, John Berkhoel, lives by the motto “Find what you love to do and be the best at it.”

Case in point: after graduating from Universal Technical Institute (UTI)’s Automotive/Diesel program, receiving a bachelor’s degree from American Trinity University, and becoming an ASE Master Certified automotive technician, John worked as an automotive technician for Honda and Acura for 15 years and taught automotive classes at UTI for 18 years. While at UTI, John also served as an Education Manager, Facilities Director, and Admissions Representative, won an instructor of the year award twice, and worked with the State of California to bring the state’s Smog Certification Training Program to UTI’s Rancho Cucamonga campus. John further diversified his resume by working for Holt/Caterpillar of California as a Main Shop Supervisor in their Earthmoving division and as a Field Admissions Representative for WyoTech in Oregon before teaching automotive classes at Buena Park High School just prior to joining WECA.

John’s extensive experience in the trades will help him ensure that WECA’s Apprenticeship programs deliver the greatest student experiences and outcomes. 

“I want to ensure that WECA remains the gold standard of apprenticeship training, and I want our facilities to support and represent our training programs at the highest level,” says John.

John’s complementary educational and professional background have also helped him feel right at home at WECA.

“I love the culture and the team I get to work with here at WECA,” says John. “I love the industry we train for and that we train students in a skill that sets them up for a successful career. I’m sure it’s a game-changer for many of them.”

With over 30 years of working and teaching in the trades under his toolbelt, John has amassed plenty of wisdom. His advice for apprentices includes “Set goals, work hard, do good work, never give up, and do things with integrity. As you find your own success, don’t forget to help those who are coming up behind you. Oh, and always turn in your timecards on time!”

Outside of work, John’s interests are as varied as his educational and professional background.

“I enjoy getting out and riding my Harley-Davidson locally, mostly on the weekends and during the summer,” says John of his free time. “My friend and I like to do long road trips. We’ve covered 12 states in the last three summers. I also enjoy mountain biking when I can, and I also enjoy doing nothing.”

WECA is excited to have John on board to help with all of our Apprenticeship training and facilities initiatives. With six facilities across three states—and you never know where we might grow next—it’s no small job, but we know John is up to the task. 

Read more >>


Thursday, December 14, 2023   WECA Member Contractors: Our Christmas wish is for you to cast your WECA Elections ballot today!

WECA Member Contractors: If you or someone from your company hasn't yet voted:

Our Christmas wish is for you to cast your ballot today for the WECA Boards of Directors and Trustees Elections for 2024!

We just need a few more votes to have enough member representation to call the election done.

It's quick and painless, we promise.


 

WECA Member Contractors: We need you to cast your ballot for candidates for the 2024 WECA Board of Directors, WECA Apprenticeship and Training Board of Trustees, and WECA Health and Welfare and Pension Board of Trustees. If you are your company's primary WECA contact and you haven't yet voted, please check your inbox for your ballot email and access it there.

Prior email communications have been sent to our primary contact at each WECA member contractor. One ballot per company, please. We need your ballot by the end of the day tomorrow, December 15, 2023.

The WECA staff would like to thank the members of the 2023 WECA Boards of Directors and Trustees for their continued commitment to the merit shop electrical industry member contractors and their employees.

Read more >>


Thursday, December 14, 2023   WECA Members: Prep for transition to Zywave HR platform on Jan. 1; intro webinar on Jan. 9

WECA Members, please mark your calendars: Zywave is your new HR platform benefit effective Jan. 1, with a complimentary intro webinar on Jan. 9.
 

A message from the WECA Membership Team:

On January 1, 2024, WECA will be transitioning from the Mineral HR platform to the ZYWAVE HR platform--a robust and expensive online HR service that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars if a member wished to engage this highly sought-after HR platform on their own.

Please save the date on your calendars for a free WECA HR support benefit webinar for our members:

ZYWAVE HR WEBINAR DETAILS

To be held: January 9, 2024

Purpose: To demonstrate logging on and creating a password, navigating the website, and effectively utilizing the program and its tools

Timeframe: No more than 60 minutes


Note to California members: the webinar will begin at 8:30 AM

Note to Arizona and Utah members: the webinar will begin at 9:30 AM

Invitations will be sent to all WECA members - please watch your inbox!

Preparation: If your organization is currently using Mineral HR and your employees are taking training classes, please terminate their training by December 31, 2023, because the system will be turned off after this date. If you are currently using any other Mineral services (for example, to create handbooks), please finish those projects before December 31, 2023.

An SHRM consultant has informed us that her firm has recommended Zywave to their contractor clients for years. More specifically, they always recommend utilizing the following Zywave solutions:

  • Employee Handbook Builder
  • Learning Management System (LMS), which features over 100 construction-specific courses
  • Multi-State Law Comparison Tool
  • Job Description Builder
  • Salary Benchmarking Tool
  • Interview Question Builder and other similar solutions
  • Anti-Harassment Training and other similar solutions

The WECA Membership Team highly encourages all WECA members to attend this session.

Thank you,

The WECA Membership Team

Read more >>


Thursday, December 14, 2023   WECA CA Members: Updated Private Wages, effective January 1, 2024, now available on WECA's website

Dear WECA California Member,

There are updates to the 2024 private wage sheets, effective January 1, 2024.

California’s minimum wage is set to increase to $16.00 effective Jan. 2024. This is specific to the residential private wages. There were no minimum wage changes to the Commercial or VDV private wages; we've only updated the headings to show the effective date. 

Please visit the Wage Section of our Member Forms and Resources page to view applicable private wages.

These sheets are additionally linked from your secure member dashboard, to which you can login at GOWECA.COM, underneath your prevailing wage determination links.

If you are a WECA California Member performing out-of-state private work and need assistance with wages, please contact Audra Jamieson at ajamieson@goweca.com or Wendy Flanagan at wflanagan@goweca.com.

Sincerely,

The WECA Team

Read more >>


Thursday, December 14, 2023   OSHA announces switch from traditional hard hats to safety helmets; content courtesy of OSHA

OSHA announces switch from traditional hard hats to safety helmets to protect agency employees from head injuries better

Content courtesy of OSHA

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that the agency is replacing traditional hard hats used by its employees with more modern safety helmets to protect them better when they are on inspection sites.

In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports head injuries accounted for nearly 6 percent of non-fatal occupational injuries involving days away from work. Almost half of those injuries occurred when workers came in contact with an object or equipment while about 20 percent were caused by slips, trips and falls.

Dating back to the 1960s, traditional hard hats protect the top of a worker’s head but have minimal side impact protection and also lack chin straps. Without the straps, tradition hard hats can fall off a worker’s head if they slip or trip, leaving them unprotected. In addition, traditional hard hats lacked vents and trapped heat inside.

On Nov. 22, 2023, OSHA published a Safety and Health Information Bulletin detailing key differences between traditional hard hats and more modern safety helmets and the advancements in design, materials and other features that help protect workers’ entire heads better. Today’s safety helmets may also offer face shields or goggles to protect against projectiles, dust and chemical splashes. Others offer built-in hearing protection and/or communication systems to enable clear communication in noisy environments.

The agency recommends safety helmets be used by people working at construction industry and the oil and gas industry; in high-temperature, specialized work and low-risk environments; performing tasks involving electrical work and working from heights; and when required by regulations or industry standards.

OSHA wants employers to make safety and health a core value in their workplaces and is committed to doing the same by leading by example and embracing the evolution of head protection. 

Learn more about OSHA.

Read more >>


Thursday, December 7, 2023   WECA Political Update December 7, 2023



Changes in WECA Government Relations:

A message from Richard Markuson

California is a challenging regulatory environment. Recognizing that, WECA leadership has enhanced the WECA Government Relations role by promoting Rex W. Hime to Government Relations Director.

Rex was previously WECA’s Regional Relationship Manager for California’s Central Valley.

I will remain an integral voice for WECA as its state and federal lobbyist. I’ve known Rex and his family for years and know he brings renewed energy, dedication, and wisdom to this vital function at WECA.

In his new role as Government Relations Director, Rex endeavors to protect the rights of merit shop business owners and their employees throughout the Western United States.

“I want to make sure that WECA is involved not only in local politics but also increasingly engaged in each of the communities we serve because that is essential to bringing awareness to our merit shop philosophy. I believe that emulating our presence in Sacramento in each of the regions we serve is crucial to educating and advocating successfully,” Rex says. “A lot of legislation comes out of Sacramento, but with 58 counties, 482 cities, and even more municipalities in California alone, having boots on the ground whose sole job is to wave our members’ flags around the West is imperative to the future of the industry. We also have significant plans to increase WECA’s presence and advocacy efforts in Arizona and Utah.”

However, Rex warns that WECA’s efforts can only succeed if those in the merit shop community are involved.

“Luckily, our members embrace the idea that political action is not simply prudent but essential to preserving and enhancing their ability to pursue business opportunities in the public and private marketplace. Through education, advocacy, monitoring, and maintaining relationships, we encourage government agencies and officials to approach their responsibilities without any prejudice. If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu – and my role is to have a seat for WECA at every table where a decision is being made that could impact our members,” Rex says.

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

It’s a plan that Terry Seabury, WECA’s Executive Director and CEO, and I have full confidence in.

Rex will have the time to pick up all the ‘bits and pieces’ of advocacy in three states and Washington; he was the best person for a tough job in a challenging political environment. 

Outside of work, Rex credits a strong support system with his success. “I am also lucky enough to have married recently,” Rex says. “I couldn’t imagine a life without my brilliant, beautiful wife by my side for all the challenges to come. I don’t fear any situation with her on my team.”

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Rough Seas Ahead - California’s budget deficit balloons to $68B

Politico reports, “California’s budget deficit has swelled to $68 billion after months of unexpectedly low tax revenues, a shortfall that could prompt the state’s deepest spending cuts since the Great Recession.

The latest deficit figure — calculated by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office and released Thursday — far exceeds a $14.3 billion estimate from June. The shortfall threatens to upend the upcoming legislative year by forcing Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers to make spending cuts on a scale that few term-limited elected officials in Sacramento have faced.

‘California Faces a Serious Deficit,’ analysts wrote. ‘While addressing a deficit of this scope will be challenging, the Legislature has a number of options available to do so. In particular, the Legislature has reserves to withdraw, one-time spending to pull back, and alternative approaches for school funding to consider.’

The LAO forecasts a $4 billion drop in the amount of funding the state is required to send to schools and community colleges under Proposition 98, adding education to a list of possible targets for reductions that also includes climate and health care.”

But, the LAO added that lawmakers ‘could reduce’ K-14 funding by $21 billion to mitigate the deficit.

Analysts suggested legislators could alleviate the problem by cutting one-time spending, cutting school funding or tapping into the state's tens of billions of dollars in reserves. Legislative leadership floated drawing from its savings last year, but Newsom opposed the idea and they remained untouched. Debates over whether to use the money will likely intensify next year, given the size of the shortfall.

Analysts also on Thursday forecasted annual $30 billion deficits in future years. The LAO recommended leaving up to half of the state's reserves intact to help mitigate those future shortfalls.

In January, Newsom will release his first budget proposal of the year, setting up negotiations over how to address the financial situation. A smaller deficit last year forced the governor to make the largest cuts of his tenure after years of massive surpluses. The state avoided deeper reductions by delaying spending and shifting money between the state’s general and special funds.

California could offset some cuts by further delaying spending, making some funding conditional on revenue bouncing back, or shifting money to bonds. But there’s already stiff competition for bond money, with mental health on the March ballot and November ballot proposals for education, climate and housing.

The stock market has started to recover, and California’s deficit could shrink if that continues by generating additional capital gains taxes. It would also reflect financial stability among some of the companies the state relies on for revenue.

‘Stock prices are important leading indicators for future #CABudget revenues, and the indicators are up,’ Jason Sisney, budget director for Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, wrote in a LinkedIn post earlier this week.

Yet whether — and how much — those trends will shrink the state deficit won’t be clear until later next year, when Newsom unveils an updated budget proposal and deficit projections in May.”

David Crane, President of Govern for California, points to decisions made by Governor Newsom and the State Legislature. General Fund Expenditures per capita have climbed 63.9% since Governor Newsom took office, growing at more than twice the annual rate at which those expenditures grew under Governor Brown (10.4% vs. 4.7%). You can read his analysis here.

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McCarthy Resignation Sets Off Mad Scramble

CalMatters reports “Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announcement today that he will vacate his seat and not seek reelection sets off a tidal wave of speculation on who will represent a wide swath of California’s agricultural heartland.”

The announcement's timing also puts McCarthy in a spot to be a political kingmaker if he makes an early endorsement. It’s a role he’s played before and relishes. In announcing his resignation in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, McCarthy reiterated that he will “continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office.”

One thing is virtually certain: McCarthy’s replacement will be a Republican. And one of the names on a possible list of GOP stalwarts is a big one — former Rep. Devin Nunes.” Story

---------------

Unfair Labor Practice Charges on the Rise

Unfair labor practice charge filings rose 10%, and union petitions rose 3% for fiscal year 2023, ending Sept. 30, the National Labor Relations Board reported in October. An NLRB spokesperson said that the agency does not break down statistics by industry, so it does not have data specific to construction, but employers and unions can be searched for in their database. A search of “construction” turns up 5,570 results out of 453,517, or about 1%. Story

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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 full report here.

---------------

Indicative of the above, Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su Emphasizes Biden’s Support for Unions Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su underlined the White House’s worker-focused efforts at a construction trade event in D.C. “The Biden-Harris administration has your back.” That was Su’s bottom line when she recently addressed attendees at a conference hosted by The Association of Union Constructors. Story

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40 Open Seats

·        There are 21 open seats in the State Assembly,

·        Eleven in the State Senate,

·        Seven in the U.S. House of Representatives, and

·        One in the U.S. Senate

See who’s in and who’s out here.

 

 

 

Read more >>