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Thursday, October 10, 2019   A Round of Applause for WECA Member Contractors Helix Electric, Inc. and Mark III Construction

Sacramento Business Journal's 2019 "Best Places to Work" Honorees sbj
 

Please join WECA in congratulating Member Contractors Helix Electric, Inc. and
Mark III Construction for being named among the best places to work in the
Sacramento Business Journal's 2019 Best Places to Work list

We're proud of our Member Contractors for fostering some of the happiest workplaces in town--keep it up, all! 
Read more >>


Thursday, October 10, 2019   Brush Up on Your Mechanics Lien Knowledge--Courtesy of Porter Law Group

Content courtesy of Patrick G. McNamara, Esq., of Porter Law Group (Sacramento, CA): 


When is a Mechanics Lien Premature?

It is well-established law in California that the latest date on which a mechanic's lien may be recorded relates to the date of completion (or cessation) of the project work, or, if a Notice of Completion is recorded, to the date of the recording of that Notice. As to the earliest date a subcontractor or supplier lien may be recorded, Civil Code Section 8414(a) states the lien may be recorded only "after the claimant ceases to provide work." A California Court of Appeals opinion filed in August of this year (Precision Framing Systems, Inc. v Luzuriaga) sheds light (or fog) on when a subcontractor "ceases to provide work." Read the full article here. 
Read more >>


Thursday, October 10, 2019   2019 SoCal Commercial Apprentice Graduate David S. Moore to Compete at IDEAL Nationals in November!


Congratulations are in order for WECA 2019 SoCal Commercial Apprentice Graduate David S. Moore of Bergelectric Corp.--he will be representing the state of California (for the third year in a row, no less!) at the 2019 IDEAL National Championships held from Nov. 7 - 9 at Disney World!

David's time of 0:50:47 seconds was the fastest in the state of California, and we here at WECA wish him good luck as he shows off his electrician chops on the national stage next month. Thank you, David, for exemplifying what we--as well as our Member Contractors--already know: WECA and its Member Contractors produce California's finest electricians and low voltage technicians! 
Read more >>


Thursday, October 10, 2019   Learn How to Navigate Skilled and Trained Workforce Mandates and Exceptions at our Nov. 6 Webinar


Do the sheer volume of Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates and exceptions make you feel as though you're all bound up in red tape?

While we can't eliminate bureaucratic madness, what we can do is help you navigate it by providing you with up-to-date information on current Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates. This webinar will cover the basics of Skilled and Trained Workforce requirements, new interpretations of compliance, and legislative changes effective 2020.

Join Richard Markuson of WECA Government Affairs as he takes you through what he calls "the rabbit hole" of California's ever-evolving Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates for public works construction.

Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Wendy Flanagan will also be on the webinar to describe WECA's 'Accelerated Apprenticeship' option for WECA Member Contractors dealing with Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates.

Register today to join us online on November 6, from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m., for this informative webinar. 

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors, Industry Partners, and their employees. All others are $50/registration.

Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership services and benefits. 
 
Read more >>


Thursday, October 10, 2019   WECA's Hiring--Seeking Part-Time Instructors for Nights and Weekends

Please Share with Your Journeymen; Help Them Keep Their Skills Sharp While Earning Extra Money with the Perfect Side Gig
 

We bet you have exceptional Journeymen who are natural teachers and leaders, enjoy learning more about their field all the time, and sharing their knowledge about all things electrical with others!

We'd be excited to have them join our team and help us--and future you--in developing the workforce for our industry!

Part-Time Instructors for our GetWired! programs teach weeknights online and/or occasional Saturday labs at our training facilities. 

This is the side gig that lets your Journeymen earn extra money while keeping their day jobs!

Download this flyer containing the full job description to share with your Journeymen here.

And, view the job posting and application details here to learn more.
 
Read more >>


Thursday, October 10, 2019   Swinging the Pendulum on Construction Careers--Content Courtesy of Construction Dive and NCCER

The unemployment rate in the United States has remained at or below 4% for the last 18 months, hitting the 3.7% mark in August. Yet, more than 5.8 million jobs have been added since January 2017, including the nearly 700,000 in construction alone.

With the average age of craft professionals at 43 and 21.7% over the age of 54, the industry is expecting to see 40% of seasoned workers retire by 2030. Even more alarming is that, in 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that only 1.7% of construction workers were 16-to-19-years old and less than 10% were under 25-years-old.

Where is our future workforce going to come from? The industry is facing a severe skilled worker shortage that is not going to change overnight. Read the full article here. 
Read more >>


Thursday, October 03, 2019   Upcoming CFEC Event

WECA has supported the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction since its founding 21 years ago. On October 15th, the CFEC will be holding their annual event at the Elks Tower in downtown Sacramento from 5 to 7 p.m.

At this event they will discuss:
  • Local PLA threats
  • Statewide PLA update
  • PLA lawsuits underway and coming
  • Recent bills signed by the Governor, and what they mean in the PLA fight
  • Update on the effort to combat unions using CQA to extort owners into "agreeing" to PLAs
If you don't already receive the CFEC emails and would like more information about their fight against PLAs - and public works are part of your business plan - you will want to attend and meet the folks fighting on your behalf. Contact Richard Markuson if you would like to be put on the guest list. 
Read more >>


Thursday, October 03, 2019   Legislative Year in Review

 


Richard Markuson

The Legislative session ended with delay, protests and last-minute deal-making and deal-breaking. This week we will run through some significant measures and where they stand. As a civics reminder, Governor Gavin Newsom has until the morning of October 14 to sign or veto legislation - and there is no "pocket-veto" in California like there is at the Federal level. Newsom must veto a bill - or else it is enacted without his signature - something that hasn't occurred accidentally since the tenure of Governor Pete Wilson!
 
Last time we mentioned Senate Bill 1 by Senate President Pro-Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). Governor Newsom made good on his promise to veto SB 1 on September 27, writing, "While I disagree about the efficacy and necessity of Senate Bill 1, I look forward to working with the Legislature in our shared fight against the weakening of California's environmental and worker protections." Newsom repeated his earlier comments in his veto message, touting the state's defensive maneuvers against the Trump administration that now total 60-plus lawsuits. "No other state has fought harder to defeat Trump's environmental policies, and that will continue to be the case," he wrote. "While I disagree about the efficacy and necessity of Senate Bill 1, I look forward to working with the Legislature in our shared fight against the weakening of California's environmental and worker protections." You can read his veto here.
 
Newson signed two D/B, best value bills. AB 356 (Santiago - D) authorizes the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) to utilize a best value procurement process as a pilot project until January 1, 2025, for construction projects over $1 million. The bill contains provisions that allow a contractor under a project labor agreement to be presumed to meet the requirements of using a skilled and trained workforce. SB 743 (Hertzberg) would specify that LAUSD, entering into a design-build contract for projects that are subject to project labor agreements, retains the discretion to take specified actions related to the contract.
 
Newsom also signed two bills that will affect operators of medium and heavy-duty vehicles. SB 44 (Skinner - D) requires the Air Resources Board (ARB) to update the State's 2016 mobile source strategy to include a comprehensive strategy for the deployment of medium duty and heavy-duty vehicles in the state for the purpose of bringing the state into compliance with federal ambient air quality standards and reducing motor vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the medium duty and heavy-duty vehicle sector. The bill started out with broad industry opposition - but Skinner amended the bill to make it more palatable. SB 210 (Leyva - D) wasn't quite so popular. Like SB 44SB 210 directs the ARB to work in coordination with multiple state agencies in order to develop and implement a Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance Program for non-gasoline, heavy-duty, on-road trucks. Some are concerned with the impacts this bill will have on trucks licensed as Special Equipment (SE) and trucks complying with the low-use compliance option. SE plated equipment is generally not legally allowed to operate on California roads except for very specific purposes and very short distances. Driving SE plated trucks to facilities to test that their emissions equipment is properly functioning would be in violation of their license and registration. Additionally, low-use trucks are only allowed to be driven 1,000 miles annually to remain in compliance with the Diesel Truck and Bus Rule. For trucks located in rural areas, they may use up to 25 percent of their annual miles driving to the nearest testing facility.
 
Newsom signed SB 610 (Glazer - D) that extends the operation of the CSLB. It requires the CSLB to conduct a study of the contractor bond; and requires the CSLB to charge a fee of $20 to enforce the electrician certification program at renewal. (If you'd like more information about what's going on at CSLB, click here).
 
A number of Labor Code bills are waiting for Newsom to act. Here is a brief summary of several of them:
 
AB 35 (Kalra - D) Requires the California Department of Public Health (DPH) to report high lead level blood tests to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) and mandates certain inspection and reporting requirements by the Cal/OSHA upon receiving the results.
 
AB 171 (Gonzalez - D) Prohibits an employer from discharging, discriminating, or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of sexual harassment and establishes a rebuttable presumption of retaliation based on the employee's status if the employer takes certain action within 90 days of receiving notice or obtaining knowledge of the victim's status.
 
AB 403 (Kalra - D) extends the time that a victim of workplace retaliation has to file a claim with the California Labor Commissioner from six months to two years and authorizes an attorney's fee award to a worker who prevails on a whistleblower claim.
 
AB 589 (Gonzalez - D) Prohibits an employer from and imposes penalties for withholding an employee's immigration-related documents and establishes a Worker's Bill of Rights regarding freedom of movement and payment of wages. Existing California and federal law already prohibit this conduct.
 
AB 673 (Carrillo - D) Provides that penalties for late payment of wages shall be recovered by the Labor Commissioner (LC) as civil penalties, payable to the affected employee, or by the employee as statutory penalties in a hearing pursuant to the LC's authority under the Labor Code. The affected employee may also enforce civil penalties for late payment of wages through the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) but cannot also recover statutory penalties for the same violation.
 
AB 1076 (Ting - D) Requires the Department of Justice (DOJ), as of January 1, 2021, to review its criminal justice databases on a weekly basis, identify persons who are eligible for relief by having either their arrest records or conviction records withheld from disclosure, with specified exceptions, and requires the DOJ to grant that relief to the eligible person without a petition or motion to being filed on the person's behalf. This would deny State licensing authorities of older criminal histories from considering this information when considering an applicant for licensure.
 
SB 530 (Galgiani - D) Provides that construction industry employers that employ workers pursuant to a CBA can satisfy sexual harassment training and education requirements by verifying completion of the training by a state-approved apprenticeship program, labor management training trust, or labor management cooperation committee, and for cases where verification cannot be obtained, by providing it themselves.
 
SB 688 (Monning - D) Expands existing provisions for failure to pay minimum wages to wages or compensation that is due under a contract. Specifically, this bill authorizes the Labor Commissioner to issue a citation to an employer to recover restitution of amounts owed, if, upon inspection or investigation, it is determined that the employer has paid or caused to be paid a wage less than the wage set by contract in excess of the applicable minimum wage.
 
Child Care Workers Can Organize Under New Calif. Law: California on Monday became the 12th state to allow childcare providers to unionize. Newsom signed the legislation, setting the stage for California's biggest union election in decades by giving 40,000 providers the right to collectively bargain with the state." In addition to offering training programs for workers, the new law "allows those who operate subsidized day care programs out of their homes the ability to negotiate over wages, reimbursement rates and other employment issues."
 
California Extends Deadline to Comply with Anti-Harassment Training Requirements. On August 30, 2019, the Governor of California signed SB 778 into law to extend the compliance deadline for anti-harassment training from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021. On January 1, 2019, a California law, SB 1343, went into effect that made changes to mandatory anti-harassment training. Specifically, SB 1343 required all employers with five or more employees to provide two hours of classroom or other effective interactive anti-harassment training to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of anti-harassment training to all non-supervisory employees by January 1, 2020. SB 1343 stated that training must take place within six months of hire as a supervisor or of an employee's promotion to a supervisor and every two years thereafter. More
Read more >>


Thursday, October 03, 2019   New Study Confirms PLAs Cost More


The Beacon Hill Institute recently completed an extensive statistical analysis of the effects on school construction bids and on construction costs of PLAs in Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut and the state of New York.  In the Ohio, Massachusetts and Connecticut studies, our analysis found final construction costs to be significantly higher when a school construction project was executed under a PLA.  In the New York study, we found that final bids for construction projects were higher under a PLA. Get the report
Read more >>


Thursday, October 03, 2019   National

Newly-sworn in Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia on Monday selected the department's deputy solicitor, Rachel Mondl, to be his chief of staff. Mondl, the department's No. 2 legal official, had worked with Scalia at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Mondl also was a staffer for Rep. Virginia Foxx (R - North Carolina) while Foxx chaired the Education and the Workforce Committee. At Scalia's White House swearing-in Monday, President Donald Trump reportedly described the vote to confirm Scalia as a "landslide." The final vote was a party-line vote, 53-44.

Overtime Rule Released: The Labor Department released a final rule that will expand overtime eligibility to 1.3 million additional workers. Under the rule, virtually all workers making less than $35,568 per year must be paid time and a half whenever their workweek exceeds 40 hours. The current salary ceiling has been stuck at $23,660 since 2004. The rule has been applauded by business groups and Republicans as a "reasonable update" and a "workable solution." More
Read more >>


Thursday, September 26, 2019   Important Prevailing Wage Update for Orange County 2019-1

Correction to Orange 2019-1 Prevailing Wage Determination, effective March 4, 2019

Dear WECA Member Contractors, 

We recently discovered that the 2019-1 Prevailing Wage Determination covering Orange County was incorrect for all apprentice periods. Corrections have been made and posted to WECA's website. Please login to download the corrected version. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and are working to make sure that these errors do not continue to occur.

Sincerely,

The WECA Team
Read more >>


Thursday, September 26, 2019   Join Industry Partner Cook Brown, LLP for "From Personnel Policies to PAGA" on Oct. 8

From WECA Industry Partner Cook Brown, LLP

Bizhaven, Cook Brown, LLP and the Sacramento Business Journal are partnering at Golden 1 Center for an event on October 8th. Cook Brown Partner Brian Bertossa will discuss new legislation and recent California Supreme Court and high profile decisions that are impacting employers in California and leading to continued lawsuits brought by current and former employees.

In this presentation, Brian Bertossa and Anna Towne, Chief Human Resources Officer of Bizhaven, will also discuss best practices in light of the outcome of the most recent case law affecting employers and will provide a brief overview of pending legislation which may lead to more changes in 2020.
Attendees will hear:
  • What can we learn about managing compensable time from the Starbucks and Tillys cases?
  • What do the latest harassment cases tell us about employer liability for third party harassment of employees?
  • How should an employer respond upon receiving a PAGA claim?
  • What is the current status of the enforceability of arbitration agreements in California?
Timeline:
3:00-3:30 PM - Check in
3:30-5:00 PM - Presentation
5:00-7:00 PM - Happy Hour (cash bar/food provided)

Location:
Golden 1 Center
Croft Lounge
Register Here
 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 26, 2019   Back to School--Check Out What WECA Apprentices Are Up To!

It's that time of year again--back to school and hard at work for our WECA apprentices! We're proud of our apprentices for getting back into the swing of things and putting their noses to the grindstone, as always! They help make WECA the premier merit shop trade school that it is. Below, our studious third year commercial electrical apprentices use iPads to learn about commercial blueprint reading. We wish them a fun and successful year ahead! 
 
 
 
 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 26, 2019   GetWired! 101: The Perfect Course for Your Electrician Trainees Getting Started in the Trade

Extra Sessions Added for Fall!  GW
 

Don't let your Electrician Trainees miss out on our autumn GetWired! 101 session! We recently added three additional 101 course sessions to our ever-popular GetWired! course lineup for Fall 2019--and only one of these new course additions remains, so what are you waiting for? 

Our GW101 course--the first in our Basic Electrical 100 series--is perfect for electrician trainees just getting started in the trade and seeking an introduction to the theory of electricity, fundamental electrical laws, and on how the National Electrical Code governs the installation of electrical wiring and equipment.

And remember--WECA Member Contractors get substantial discounts on WECA's Electrician Trainee program courses. Call us at 1-877-444-9322 to get started, or read the next article down for details about getting your member discounts online.
Read more >>


Thursday, September 26, 2019   WECA's Exclusive Member Discounts on Training for your Electrician Trainees and Journeymen

We know an increasing number of you are sponsoring your Electrician Trainees' tuition in our Electrician Trainee (GetWired) Certificate Path program. We think that's great! WECA's Electrician Trainee program is another valid training path towards certification, with many educational similarities to our Apprenticeship program. And many of you are finding that sponsoring your Electrician Trainees' tuition gives you a competitive advantage in the hiring market, and helps you to ensure that your employees stay registered with the State.
 
And now, we've made it even simpler--and more affordable--for you to sponsor your employees. 

It's easy to get your member discounts on ET and Journeyman training at WECA when you enroll your employees through our website. Upon enrollment, members will enjoy automatically-applied discounts.

Questions? Please call us at 1-877-444-9322. We can also assist you with volume enrollments.

Ready to get started with sponsoring your Electrician Trainees in WECA's GetWired! program? Enroll your Electrician Trainees today!
Read more >>


Thursday, September 26, 2019   Do You Have Prospective Apprentices? Have Them Save the Date for November Open Houses!

Registration Links Coming Soon for WECA's NorCal and SoCal Open Houses to Celebrate National Apprenticeship Week in November! NAW
 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 26, 2019   Register Today for our Upcoming Oct. 2 Webinar with Cook Brown, LLP Partner Carrie Bushman


Join Cook Brown Partner Carrie Bushman as she discusses:
  • Recently enacted statutory provisions regarding new penalties for non-compliance with skilled and trained workforce requirements;
  • The small project exemption for contractor registration and submission of eCPRS;
  • How to read and interpret prevailing wage determinations, including scopes of work, travel, and subsistence provisions, and shift differential provisions;
  • Taking credit for fringe benefit contributions;
  • Public works contractor registration requirements;
  • Apprenticeship compliance; and,
  • Record-keeping requirements, including eCPR.
Register today to join us online on October 2, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., for this informative webinar.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors, Industry Partners, and their employees. All others are $75/registration.

Want a handy Prevailing Wage reference in the meantime? Purchase WECA's updated ePublication, "Blueprint to California's Prevailing Wage: A Contractor's Guide Second Edition." Now available for Amazon Kindle, and as an interactive PDF.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors and their employees. All others $75.
Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership benefits and services. 
 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 26, 2019   Learn How to Navigate Skilled and Trained Workforce Mandates and Exceptions with our Nov. 6 Webinar


Do the sheer volume of Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates and exceptions make you feel as though you're all bound up in red tape?

While we can't eliminate bureaucratic madness, what we can do is help you navigate it by providing you with up-to-date information on current Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates. This webinar will cover the basics of Skilled and Trained Workforce requirements, new interpretations of compliance, and legislative changes effective 2020.

Following the Cook Brown, LLP Webinar with Partner Carrie Bushman on Prevailing Wage and Skilled and Trained Workforce on October 2nd, which we encourage all our members to attend as a precursor to this webinar, join Richard Markuson of WECA Government Affairs as he takes you through what he calls "the rabbit hole" of California's ever-evolving Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates for public works construction.

Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Wendy Flanagan will also be on the webinar to describe WECA's 'Accelerated Apprenticeship' option for WECA Member Contractors dealing with Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates.

Register today to join us online on November 6, from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m., for this informative webinar.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors, Industry Partners, and their employees. All others are $50/registration.

The 2019 edition of WECA's annual business law publication, Selected California Laws Affecting Electrical and Low Voltage Contractors, is now available for purchase.
NOTE: WECA members receive a complimentary copy of this book at each year's updated release, as a member benefit.

Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership services and benefits. 
 
Read more >>


Tuesday, September 24, 2019   Back to School--Check Out What WECA Apprentices Are Up To!

It's that time of year again--back to school and hard at work for our WECA apprentices! We're proud of our apprentices for getting back into the swing of things and putting their noses to the grindstone, as always! You help make WECA the premier merit shop trade school that it is. Below, our studious third year commercial electrical apprentices use iPads to learn about commercial blueprint reading. We wish you all a fun and successful year ahead!
  
 
 
 
Read more >>


Tuesday, September 24, 2019   GetWired! 101: The Perfect Course for Electrician Trainees Getting Started in the Trade

Extra Sessions Added for Fall!
 

Electrician Trainees: Don't miss out on GetWired! 101 this autumn session! We recently added three additional 101 course sessions to our ever-popular GetWired! course lineup for Fall 2019--and only one of these new course additions remains, so what are you waiting for? Sign up today! 

Our GW101 course--the first in our Basic Electrical 100 series--is perfect for electrician trainees just getting started in the trade and seeking an introduction to the theory of electricity, fundamental electrical laws, and on how the National Electrical Code governs the installation of electrical wiring and equipment.

Learn more and register for the course here. But hurry--seats are filling fast! 
Read more >>


Tuesday, September 24, 2019   Important Reminders about Supervision Requirements for WECA Apprentices

Please read this brief refresher and overview of Apprentice supervision requirements as they apply to our Apprentices:
  • All Commercial & Residential Apprentices must be supervised by a Certified Electrician or the C10 holder for the Company.
  • All Low Voltage Apprentices must be supervised by a qualified journey-level technician.
  • The supervision requirement for all WECA's Apprenticeship programs is 1 Apprentice to 1 Journey-person.  A Certified Journey-person may supervise 1 Apprentice and 1 Electrician Trainee.
  • The supervising journey-person must lay out the work for the day, ensure the apprentice has proper instruction / training on how to perform the task and that the apprentice is able to perform the task safely
  • The supervision journey-person does not have to stand over the apprentices shoulder but must be on the same job site and available to the apprentice at all times.
  1. If there is no supervising journey-person on the job site with you or if you feel you are not being properly supervised you should contact your company's human resources department and then WECA if the issue is not resolved.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Wendy Flanagan, Assistant Director of Apprenticeship, by email at wflanagan@goweca.com
 or by phone at 916-453-0112 extension 145. 
Read more >>


Tuesday, September 24, 2019   WECA's Student Referral Service Can Help Connect You to a Great WECA Member Contractor Today!


Are you currently out of work, as well as a current WECA student, or a WECA grad? Try out our Student Referral Service today! This service is a conduit to introduce our current Electrician Trainees, Journeyman Continuing Education students, and WECA Grads to our Member Contractors. 

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 open to all workers seeking employment in the electrical and low voltage industry. WECA's purpose in providing this service is to help our Member Contractors find the qualified workers they need. 

Contact Ana Lopez, ET/CE Program Manager, at alopez@goweca.com to sign up for our Student Referral Service.
 
You can also Search Open Positions Today!
Read more >>


Tuesday, September 24, 2019   A Round of Applause for WECA Alumni and Member Contractor Windell Pascascio, Jr.!

Recipient of the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce's 2019 Small Business of the Year Award windell
 

2013 WECA Commercial Apprenticeship graduate and current WECA Member Contractor Windell Pascascio, Jr. of Fresno-based Imperial Electric Service poses with WECA's Assistant Director of Apprenticeship, Wendy Flanagan, at the Central Valley Business Diversity Expo in Fresno on April 12, 2019.

Please join us in congratulating Windell on winning the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce's 2019 Small Business of the Year award! Congratulations, Windell! We love to see alumni and Member Contractors such as you succeed, and eagerly await your future accomplishments. 
Read more >>


Tuesday, September 24, 2019   Registration Links Coming Soon for WECA's NorCal and SoCal Open Houses!

Prospective Apprentice? Save the Date! 

Registration Links Coming Soon for WECA's NorCal and SoCal Open Houses to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week in November! date
 
Read more >>


Tuesday, September 24, 2019   Apprentices--Staying on Top of Your Health Just Got Easier with Anthem's New Sydney App


Frequently asked questions about how to use the new Sydney Mobile App and Digital Enhancements provided by Anthem: 

Q: How is Anthem's digital strategy changing to better support me? 

A: It's using technology-Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science-to deliver a more powerful web and mobile experience. It also includes Sydney, our new mobile app. Sydney builds on Anthem Anywhere's features and offers a more personal and human touch to the experience. And it'll expand and evolve over time.

Q: When do I get to meet Sydney? 
A: September 1, 2019. 

Q:   Will I have to download the Sydney app? 
A: Yes. Anthem Anywhere leaves app stores on September 1, 2019. If you have Anthem Anywhere on your devices after that, the app will still work-but you'll get in-app alerts to download Sydney. 

Q: Will I have to re-register on the new app? 
A: If you use Anthem Anywhere today, you won't have to re-register. You'll use the same login and password from Anthem Anywhere. If it's your first time using our mobile app, and you've already registered on anthem.com, you can use that login and password with Sydney. 

Q: What can I do with Sydney? 
A: You'll have access to the features you have now in Anthem Anywhere, plus some new ones. Chatbot technology will get you answers to common questions right away. Sydney can also match you up with health-care professionals, and show you what to expect when I comes to costs. 

Q: What are some of the new personalized features? 
A: A new Health Dashboard brings together personalized program recommendations and information about wellbeing. Other features include support for health goals, integration for health-care devices and health trackers, and more.

Q: Will I still have access to the Online Wellness Toolkit? 
A: Yes, and Sydney will also offer these features in its new Health Dashboard. You'll be able to access the Dashboard from your secure web and mobile home screens.
Read more >>


Tuesday, September 24, 2019   It's That Time of Year Again--Commercial Apprentice Open Enrollment Runs from Oct. 15 - Nov. 1

WECA's annual open enrollment period for Commercial Apprentices will take place from October 15 - November 6 for changes to become effective on December 1. If your preferred method of contact is by email prior to October 15, you will receive an email with open enrollment information along with the annual notices that include Medicare Part D and instructions if you are adding a dependent not already enrolled to the group health plans.

For those Commerical Apprentices that have their preferred method of contact by mail, you will receive your open enrollment packet by mail or you may call and request that I email the packet to you.

WECA is also mailing out postcards as a reminder of our annual open enrollment; these will be mailed within the next few weeks.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Cindy Cormier, Insurance Administrator, by phone at (877) 444-9322 ext. 117 or by email at ccormier@goweca.com.
Read more >>


Friday, September 20, 2019   Upcoming CFEC Event

WECA has supported the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction since its founding 21 years ago. On October 15th, the CFEC will be holding their annual event at the Elks Tower in downtown Sacramento from 5 to 7 p.m.

At this event they will discuss:
  • Local PLA threats
  • Statewide PLA update
  • PLA lawsuits underway and coming
  • Recent bills signed by the Governor, and what they mean in the PLA fight
  • Update on the effort to combat unions using CQA to extort owners into "agreeing" to PLAs
If you don't already receive the CFEC emails and would like more information about their fight against PLAs - and public works are part of your business plan - you will want to attend and meet the folks fighting on your behalf. Contact Richard Markuson if you would like to be put on the guest list. 
Read more >>


Friday, September 20, 2019   Legislative Year in Review





Richard Markuson

The Legislative session ended with delay, protests and last-minute deal-making and deal-breaking. This week we will run through some significant measures and evaluate where they stand. As a civics reminder, Governor Gavin Newsom has until the morning of October 14 to sign or veto legislation - and there is no "pocket-veto" in California like there is at the Federal level. Newsom must veto a bill - or it is enacted without his signature - something that hasn't occurred accidentally since the tenure of Governor Pete Wilson!
 
Most of you will have read or heard about the anti-vaxxer protests that took place in the Capitol during the last weeks of session. It culminated with one protester throwing what was claimed to be blood onto the floor of the Senate (and a few Senators). After the 5:14 pm assault, some said Newsom should be partially responsible for not tempering the protests after he signed legislation to change the law on medical exemptions. Some even suggested he directed the CHP to be unusually lenient to protestors, who became increasingly aggressive before shutting down the Senate for hours on the last night of the session.
 
But with the Senate floor contaminated - and a crime scene - the Senate reconvened in a committee room and proceeded on the file.
 
And surprising no one, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 5 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego) which is an attempt to make independent contractors in the gig economy regular employees of the employing business. Democrat Adam Gray was the only member of the Assembly to break ranks, while two Republicans - Jordan Cunningham and Chad Mayes - abstained. In the Senate, it was straight party-line: 29-11.
 
Unlike hundreds of bills passed by the Legislature but still in the administrative enrollment headed to the Governor's desk, AB 5 was fast-tracked. Rather than a large public rally-style bill signing with hundreds of labor supporters, he held a quiet signing ceremony with author Lorena Gonzalez and supporters in his office.
 
You can get a sense of Newsom's agenda in his signing statement. (Signing statements are a relative rarity and are used sometimes to provide clarification, or in this case, articulate the Governor's inner feelings).
 
"A next step is creating pathways for more workers to form a union, collectively bargain to earn more, and have a stronger voice at work -- all while preserving flexibility and innovation."
 
Readers - particularly those who have been signatory - will know how much union membership contributes to "flexibility and innovation."
 
He continued, stating, "In this spirit, I will convene leaders from the Legislature, the labor movement and the business community to support innovation and a more inclusive economy by stepping in where the federal government has fallen short and granting workers excluded from the National Labor Relations Act the right to organize and collectively bargain." I guess he could have done that this year. You can read the Governor's statement here.
 
As Cook Brown Partner Barbara Cotter put it, "Most importantly, it [AB 5] will require a comprehensive review of such relationships. For those businesses that utilize independent contractors on any regular basis to perform tasks which are an integral part of their operations, the law may compel them to transition the workers to employees. For those businesses that only occasionally use independent contractors, they will be required to assess whether the risk of civil and/or criminal penalties warrants such hiring or whether it would be less risky to assign the work at issue to the regular workforce." You can read her full analysis  here.
 
Another VERY high-profile bill was Senate Bill 1 by Senate President Pro-Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) (gotta love those San Diego legislators). SB 1 was on CalChambers' Job Killer list.
 
SB 1 was drafted to enshrine Obama-era environmental rules - aimed partly at countering an upcoming federal rewrite of California's water-pumping rules - which environmentalists expect to send more water to farms at the expense of endangered fish. But unlike AB 5, Newsom announced early Saturday that he planned to veto the bill.
 
Newsom defended his opposition to the bill by calling it "a solution in search of a problem. No. 1, it's unnecessary, No. 2, it would've set back our ability to advance an effort to get out of this litigious mindset where nobody's getting anything except more and more frustrated."
 
Newsom said Monday that he had made lawmakers "very clear on [his] concerns" about the bill ahead of the vote and that he didn't read anything into their decision to send him the bill anyway.
 
The LA Times' George Skelton said, "In defying Newsom, [Atkins] tried to protect California from Trump - and showed how legislating should work. On Friday, [she] showed us how a healthy, productive legislature works - one that independently pushes its own ideas about public policy and leaves it to the governor to decide whether to sign or veto a bill. Atkins rejected Newsom's request to shelve her landmark anti-Trump environmental protection measure, SB 1. Then she rammed it through both legislative houses within hours."
 
But there is an interesting sidebar to the SB 1 story - one including the State Building and Construction Trades Council. As Debra Kahn from Politico reported, "A wide coalition of labor unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, California Labor Federation and State Building and Construction Trades Council, is circulating an Assembly floor alert flier that urges "strong support" for the bill. It cites the Trump administration's rollback of limits on workplace exposure to beryllium and the requirement for industry to submit detailed workplace injury reports." 'We have been talking with the environmental organizations about who to visit so they can hear from us,' said Cesar Diaz, legislative and political director for the State Building and Construction Trades Council. 'I'm very hopeful.' He said the unions had supported the bill since it was first proposed by former Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, but had been waiting this session to see how the environmental provisions would evolve. 'Now we're able to see clearly what we need to do in terms of working the bill,' he said."
 
So, did the trades take until the last days of session to figure out how to lobby, or were they responding to a call for help from Atkins?
 
I think the trades saw an opportunity to support environmental groups so that the next time a local building trades council wanted to have environmental group support on a greenmail, it would be payback time.
 
Another last minute gut-and-amend (where the contents of a bill change markedly) was AB 48 by Assembly Member O'Donnell and Senator Glazer (and a whole bunch of co-authors who want to take credit). It authorizes $15 billion for the construction and modernization of public preschool, K-12, California Community Colleges (CCC), University of California (UC), and California State University (CSU) facilities to be placed on the March 3, 2020 primary ballot. It includes a variety of concessions to developers. It waives developer fees until January, 1, 2026, for multifamily housing within a ½ mile of a major transit stop to increase access to housing; it provides a 20 percent reduction to multifamily housing project fees in other areas until January 1, 2026; and it suspends Level 3 fees, which doubles the fees paid by developers when state bond funds are exhausted, from January 1, 2021, or whenever existing bond funds are expended, to January 1, 2028. Possibly as a concession to State Building and Construction Trades Council for giving something to developers (or just because), it includes PLA language (I know - you were surprised at that). It gives priority to projects that include a PLA. I can hear the local trades preparing their marketing speech already ... "And if you adopt a PLA, not only will you get local hires, campaign contributions and no strikes, but you also get higher priority over other equally qualified projects!!!"
 
This PLA language (which only WECA opposed) didn't keep Republicans from voting in favor of the bill (which incidentally will cost the state $1 billion a year in principal and interest). The language also allows local school districts to borrow more - further indebting local property owners.
 
Only five Legislators stood with WECA and voted no - Assembly member Jay Obernolte, and State Senators Brian Jones, John Moorlach, Mike Morrell, and Jeff Stone. Senator Moorlach (the former Treasurer of Orange County) spoke eloquently about AB 48 - you can see him here (at hour 4:15). Obernolte, by the way, is giving up his seat in the Assembly to run for Congress. Read more here.
 
There was scant mention of the PLA language in the media - and it wasn't even mentioned in the bill analyses. But Construction Dive did pick up on it (although their depiction of our opposition was a little off), noting that "If voters approve the legislation next year, that's good news for the California contractors that specialize in school construction, but it has also raised questions from some about the role that project labor agreements (PLAs) play in the measure." We have been in touch with the author who does understand our concerns and is trying to get authorization for a follow-up article. But the real question is why did the trades settle for only a preference? It is completely plausible that they could have obtained the Democratic votes necessary with a flat PLA mandate to secure State funds.
 
A bill waiting for Governor Newsom's scrutiny is AB 520 (Kalra, D-San Jose). This is a three-peat of sorts. The State Building and Construction Trades Council have tried for years to set in statute a definition of "de minimis" for the purpose of paying the prevailing wage in public works projects. The trades tried several times during the Brown administration to define de minimis without success. Brown, while a supporter of prevailing wages, thought the current administrative practice worked fine. AB 520 defines a public subsidy as de minimis for the purpose of paying the prevailing wage in private projects if it is both less than $500,000 and less than 2 percent of the total project cost for bids advertised or contracts awarded after July 1, 2020. If the subsidy is for a residential project consisting entirely of single-family dwellings, the subsidy is de minimis so long as it is less than 2 percent of the total project cost. CBIA argued that "California's homebuilders have consistently endeavored to proactively work with the state and its local governments to collectively achieve California's green building and housing goals. Unfortunately, AB 520 will jeopardize those ongoing partnerships in an attempt to solve a purported problem that has not been demonstrated to exist." A few moderate Dems in the Assembly abstained - but it was straight party-line in the Senate. Now, it is up to Newsom.
 
One of IBEW's bills - AB 1028 (Gonzalez) stalled out for some reason. It would have required the California Energy Commission (CEC), to allocate grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) as part of the Proposition 39 (Clean Energy Job Creation Program) to give priority based on the LEA's utilization of apprentices from state-approved apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. At this point, funds have been largely been exhausted and additional funding allocations to schools is halted until additional funding is appropriated for these purposes - which may have caused its demise.
 
Another IBEW bill that stalled was SB 524 (Stern) that would have required that a skilled and trained workforce must perform the work for energy efficiency projects of $50,000 or more in ratepayer-funded incentives within the same building, facility, or complex. The CA Large Energy Consumers Association, CA Food Producers, Agricultural Energy Consumers Association and the Efficiency + Demand Management Council opposed SB 524 and collectively said, "The bill ... requires a skilled and trained workforce for large projects with ratepayer incentives, but it does not allow the PUC program to cover the incremental cost of employing a skilled and trained workforce for energy efficiency projects, making skilled and trained projects less feasible. Fewer projects using a skilled and trained workforce will be funded."
 
Another stalled bill is AB 1066 (Gonzalez). Current law makes an employee ineligible for UI benefits if the employee left work because of a trade dispute and specifies that the employee remains ineligible for the duration of the trade dispute. AB 1066 would have restored eligibility after the first two weeks for an employee who left work because of a trade dispute. The bill failed twice on the floor of the Senate - due in large part to a growing exhaustion with Lorena. Democrats Bob Archuleta, Bill Dodd, and Jerry Hill joined Republicans in voting NO and an additional seven Democrats who couldn't reach the NO button on their desk abstained - causing the bill's demise. (Actually - there is no "No" button in the Senate, which has refused to join the Assembly in electronic voting. Rather, the Senate still calls the roll for every measure.)
 
We'll cover some more bills next time!
Read more >>


Thursday, September 12, 2019   A Round of Applause for WECA Alumni and Member Contractor Windell Pascascio, Jr.!


2013 WECA Commercial Apprenticeship graduate and current WECA Member Contractor Windell Pascascio, Jr. of Fresno-based Imperial Electric Service poses with WECA's Assistant Director of Apprenticeship, Wendy Flanagan, at the Central Valley Business Diversity Expo in Fresno on April 12, 2019.
___________________________________________________________________

Please join us in congratulating Windell on winning the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce's 2019 Small Business of the Year award! Congratulations, Windell! We love to see alumni and Member Contractors such as you succeed, and eagerly await your future accomplishments. 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 12, 2019   Register Today for the Oct. 2 Webinar: "Prevailing Wage and Skilled and Trained Workforce"


Join Cook Brown Partner Carrie Bushman as she discusses:
  • Recently enacted statutory provisions regarding new penalties for non-compliance with skilled and trained workforce requirements;
  • The small project exemption for contractor registration and submission of eCPRs;
  • How to read and interpret prevailing wage determinations, including scopes of work, travel and subsistence provisions, and shift differential provisions;
  • Taking credit for fringe benefit contributions;
  • Public works contractor registration requirements;
  • Apprenticeship compliance; and, 
  • Record keeping requirements, including eCPR.
Register today to join us online on October 2, from 8:30-12pm, for this informative webinar.
This webinar is free for WECA member contractors, industry partners, and their employees. All others are $75/registration.

Want a handy Prevailing Wage reference in the meantime? Purchase WECA's updated ePublication, "Blueprint to California's Prevailing Wage: A Contractor's Guide Second Edition." Now available for Amazon Kindle, and as an Interactive PDF.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors and their employees. All others $75.

Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership benefits and services.
Read more >>


Thursday, September 12, 2019   Learn How to Navigate Skilled and Trained Workforce Mandates and Exceptions with Our Nov. 6 Webinar


Do the sheer volume of Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates and exceptions make you feel as though you're all bound up in red tape?

While we can't eliminate bureaucratic madness, what we can do is help you navigate it by providing you with up-to-date information on current Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates. This webinar will cover the basics of Skilled and Trained Workforce requirements, new interpretations of compliance, and legislative changes effective 2020.

Following the Cook Brown LLP Webinar with Partner Carrie Bushman on Prevailing Wage and Skilled and Trained Workforce on October 2nd, which we encourage all our members to attend as a precursor to this webinar, join Richard Markuson of WECA Government Affairs as he takes you through what he calls "the rabbit hole" of California's ever-evolving Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates for public works construction.

Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Wendy Flanagan will also be on the webinar to describe WECA's 'Accelerated Apprenticeship' option for WECA Member Contractors dealing with Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates.

Register today to join us online on November 6, from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m., for this informative webinar.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors, Industry Partners, and their employees. All others are $50/registration.

The 2019 edition of WECA's annual business law publication, Selected California Laws Affecting Electrical and Low Voltage Contractors, is now available for purchase.

NOTE: WECA members receive a complimentary copy of this book at each year's updated release, as a member benefit.

Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership benefits and services. 
 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 12, 2019   WECA's Hiring! Seeking Part-Time Instructors for Nights and Weekends


Your Chance to Teach for WECA!

Are you a certified electrician (former/retired acceptable if you're willing to get re-certified upon hire) who enjoys learning more about your field all the time, sharing your knowledge with others, and educating the next generation? 
If so, we'd be excited to have you join our team! 
 
Part-Time Instructors for our GetWired! programs teach weeknights online and/or occasional Saturday labs at our training facilities.
 
This is the side gig that lets you earn extra money while keeping your day job!

To learn more about these positions and apply, please visit our 'Careers' page.
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Thursday, September 12, 2019   Back to School--Check Out What WECA Apprentices Are Up To!

It's that time of year again--back to school for our WECA Apprentices! This week, Apprentices filled up our classrooms and labs, and are shown below learning technologies such as Plangrid and exploring the basics of ladder safety. 

We wish our Apprentices a fun and successful year ahead!  
 
 
 
 
 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 12, 2019   Information for Employers Regarding Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training

Content courtesy of: the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
 

SB 1343 requires that all employers of 5 or more employees provide 1 hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to non-managerial employees and 2 hours of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to managerial employees once every two years. Existing law requires the training to include harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation and to include practical examples of such harassment and to be provided by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in those areas. The bill also requires the Department to produce and post both training courses to its website, which employers may utilize instead of hiring a trainer.

An employer is required to train its California-based employees so long as it employs 5 or more employees anywhere, even if they do not work at the same location and even if not all of them work or reside in California.

Under the DFEH's regulations, the definition of "employee" for training purposes includes full-time, part-time, and temporary employees, unpaid interns, unpaid volunteers, and persons providing services pursuant to a contract (independent contractors).

Click here to access additional tools in the toolkit, including a sample sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training.
 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 12, 2019   Committed to Safety: WECA's San Diego Apprentices Learn CPR ... with Virtual Reality!

Last academic year, WECA piloted a cutting-edge virtual reality CPR training--provided by Fremont, CA-based ICE Safety Solutions--at our HQ in Rancho Cordova. This week, our San Diego training facility got in on the action. Apprentices are shown watching videos of real-life CPR and first aid scenarios on the virtual reality headsets, and practicing their newfound skills on Bluetooth-enabled 'Manikins.' 
 
 
 
Read more >>


Thursday, September 05, 2019   Opinions

Opinions



Richard Markuson

The Interesting Elements of Assembly Bill 5

Many of you San Diego-area folks remember Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez from her tenure as head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council (AFL-CIO). She left that post in 2013 when Assemblyman Ben Hueso was elected to the State Senate. She then decided to bring her style of political activism to Sacramento by winning Hueso's 80th Assembly District.
 
She is a prolific author - usually having multiple pieces of legislation on the CalChamber "Job Killer" list. One bill that is NOT on the list - but certainly qualifies as a job killer - is AB 5, which will codify the State Supreme Court decision in the Dynamex case that changed the treatment of independent contractors (we cover some recent amendments to that bill elsewhere). The reason I suggest it is a job killer is because its primary targets are the gig economy workers who accepted employment under the old rules - for any number of reasons - and now will become employees of their contracting entity - whether they want to be an employee or not. Uber - by far the largest of the gig employers (and who recently lost $5 billion in the last quarter) has suggested that 300,000 of their contractors will be terminated if AB 5 goes into effect as currently drafted. And the votes are probably here to pass the bill, and Governor Newsom has signaled he is prepared to sign it.
 
But this is not about the gig economy or AB 5, but rather, this is an interesting "side-bar" that is taking place around the bill and efforts to provide some degree of flexibility to gig workers - or as some have described it - a "third" status of employment (the other two being employee and independent contractor).
 
There seemed to be some degree of interest in this concept among the Democrats in Sacramento who don't necessarily want to be seen as executioner of the gig economy as we know it (which includes paper boys, who would become employees of the few remaining printed papers in California). Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and some of the other employers have offered wage floors, collective bargaining (industry-wide as opposed to employer by employer) and other protections without these folks becoming statutory employees.
 
The author seemed reluctant to go down this road and preferred to hand out industry exemption on a case-by-case basis - always with the approval of organized labor. But lo and behold, the loudest opponent to this was none other than Mr. Robbie Hunter. You may recall the last column, which listed Mr. Hunter of the State Building and Construction Trades Council as the fifth most influential power figure in Sacramento.
 
At about this same time, Governor Newsom announced members of his Future of Work Commission.
 
The executive order establishing the Commission states, "The Future of Work Commission's primary mission shall be to study, understand, analyze, and make recommendations regarding the kinds of jobs Californians could have in the decades to come; the impact of technology on work, workers, employers, jobs and society; methods of promoting better job quality, wages, and working conditions through technology; modernizing worker safety net protections; and the best way to preserve good jobs, ready the workforce for the jobs of the future through lifelong learning, and ensure shared prosperity for all." The Commission is replete with union officials, Obama appointees, and left-leaning academics along with a few token business representatives but missing from the list was good ol' # 5 - Robbie Hunter.
 
It seems Hunter was prepped to serve but things went a little sideways when the trades went a little postal on the "third status of employment."
 
As CalMatters reported the "disinvitation," Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration revoked the appointment of one of California's top labor leaders to a soon-to-be announced Future of Work Commission on Tuesday, in an escalating dispute over how to treat gig employees. Robbie Hunter, head of the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, is insisting that gig employees, including construction workers who get jobs through Handy, be treated as employees, not independent contractors. Hunter and Newsom's chief of staff, Ann O'Leary, argued over the issue earlier this month, leading Hunter to conclude the administration would make concessions to companies such as Uber, Lyft and Handy. On Tuesday night, a top aide to Newsom called Cesar Diaz, the building trades' chief lobbyist, to say Hunter's appointment was revoked-this after the administration emailed a draft press release to Hunter on Friday afternoon announcing his appointment.
 
And in a curious and possibly unrelated dis-appointment, Newsom also has dumped Nikki Noushkam, his recent appointment to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
 
Noushkam worked at ExxonMobil from 1997 to 2001 and Northrop Grumman from 2004 to 2015. Most recently, she served as chief engineer for Aerospace Corp. since 2015. Newsom appointed her last month but apparently had second thoughts. "While the governor was impressed by the technical and engineering expertise of the nominee, the governor is withdrawing his previous nomination to the South Coast Air Quality Management District," Newsom spokesperson Nathan Click said in a statement. "Given the air quality challenges faced by families in Southern California, the governor believes his appointee should have both a strong understanding of public health and the trust of local communities."
 
So, how does one connect those dots? CalMatters noted: "The decision to pull the nomination of Negar "Nikki" Noushkam coincided with the Newsom administration's decision to revoke the offer to Robbie Hunter, head of the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, to serve on the Future of Work Commission." And "... the building trades council represents unionized oil refinery workers, has an alliance with oil companies, and supported Noushkam's appointment." Connection? Maybe. But the trades have stepped up their lobbying against a gig fix - and dispatched about 100 construction workers (paid for with industry advancement money, undoubtedly) today to the Capitol to remind Democrats (and Republicans) who is calling the shots.
 
We'll know how this resolves by Monday - the start of the marathon last week of session when the deadline for amending bills before Friday's adjournment has passed.
Read more >>


Thursday, September 05, 2019   State Legislation

The Senate Appropriations committee approved AB 5 (Gonzalez - D - San Diego) and the bill is now on the Senate floor. Gonzalez amended the bill for construction to establish that the holding in Dynamex does not apply to the relationship between a contractor and an individual performing work pursuant to a subcontract in the construction industry, and instead the determination of whether the individual is an employee of the contractor shall be governed by Section 2750.5 and the test adopted by the California Supreme Court in the case of S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc., if the contractor demonstrates that all of seven criteria are satisfied.
 
On the Senate floor is AB 403 (Kalra - D - San Jose) to the floor. This bill extends the time that a victim of workplace retaliation has to file a claim with the California Labor Commissioner from six months to two years and authorizes an attorneys' fee award to a worker who prevails on a whistleblower claim. AB 403 incentivizes litigation and provides for a one-sided provision of attorney's fees. California is already widely perceived as having a hostile litigation environment. One factor that contributes to this negative perception is the high award and threat of attorney's fees in civil litigation that often dwarfs the financial recovery the plaintiff actually receives.
 
The Senate passed AB 520 (Kalra) on a party-line vote. It is the building trades third attempt to define a public subsidy as "de minimis" for the purpose of paying the prevailing wage in public works projects if the subsidy is both less than $500,000 and less than 2% of the total project cost. The bill would specifically provide a public subsidy for a project that consists entirely of single-family dwellings is de minimis if it is less than 2% of the total project cost. CBIA has stated this narrow amendment is deceptive and an attempt to confuse Legislators (Squirrel!). These standards will apply for bids advertised or contracts awarded after July 1, 2020. AB 251 (Levine, 2015), was vetoed by Governor Brown; he stated in his veto message: "Longstanding practice has been to view [a] subsidy in context of the project and use 2% as a general threshold for determinations. There has been no showing that the current practice is unreasonable. While I remain a staunch supporter of prevailing wages I am concerned that this measure is too restrictive and may have unintended consequences."
 
Newson signed AB 595 (Medina - D - Riverside) that authorizes the use of an individual tax identification number for purposes of conducting background checks required by class or program for a student enrolled in a community college apprenticeship or internship training program who does not have a social security number.
 
The Senate passed Medina's AB 695 that extends the sunset on community college districts' (CCDs') authority to enter into design-build public works contracts and adopts the same "skilled and trained workforce" requirements applicable to the design-build authority of state agencies and local governments. The bill contains provisions that allow a contractor under a project labor agreement to be presumed to meet the requirements of using a skilled and trained workforce.
 
Newson signed AB 1019 (Frazier - D - Discovery Bay) that adds to the ex officio members of the Interagency Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship, the Director of Rehabilitation and the chair of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities. The bill would require the committee to create a subcommittee to address apprenticeship for the developmentally disabled community. The bill would add that it is the intent of the Legislature that the department will encourage greater participation for the developmentally disabled in apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.
 
Held on suspense was AB 1028 (Gonzalez) that would have required the California Energy Commission (CEC), in allocating grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) as part of the Proposition 39 - Clean Energy Job Creation Program to also give priority based on a LEA's utilization of apprentices from state-approved apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. The committee concluded "Cost pressure, potentially in the millions of dollars, to provide substantial funding for the purposes the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, as those purposes are modified by this bill."
 
Passed off of suspense was her AB 1066 that will permit striking workers to collect unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. The cursory analysis of the policy change indicated "annual ongoing costs to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund would likely be in the millions of dollars."
 
Awaiting action of the Governor is AB 1475 (Bauer-Kahan - D - Orinda) that authorizes regional transportation agencies (RTAs) to use the construction manager/general contractor (CM/GC) procurement method on any transportation project that is not on the state highway system.
 
The Senate passed AB 1558 (Ramos - D - Highland) that requires local school districts or schools planning college or career fairs to notify apprenticeship programs in their county utilizing contact information from the database of approved apprenticeship programs published by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards on its internet website.
 
Also on the floor is AB 1736 ( Daly - D - Anaheim) that will require departments and state agencies with an internet website, to post within 24 hours of awarding a construction contract, the name of the successful bidder, the amount of the successful bidder's bid, and the name of listed subcontractors and their subcontract amounts.
 
Part of the "housing solution" on the Assembly floor is SB 5 (Beall - D - San Jose) that establishes a mechanism that, when fully implemented, shifts up to $2 billion annually from local ERAFs to pay for projects approved under the Program for affordable housing, transit-oriented development, infill development, housing-related infrastructure, and other specified priorities. This indirectly requires the state to make annual GF adjustments to match any reductions in ERAF that would otherwise be used to support schools. While school funding is held harmless, the bill would reduce the amount of GF revenues available to support other state programs and services. The future is uncertain as the CFT and CTA are opposed to the ERAF shift.
 
Back in the Senate for concurrence is Beall's SB 128 that extends the existing best-value contracting pilot program until January 1, 2025. The bill also changes the date that a participating county must submit a report to the Legislature to March 1, 2024, and adds Santa Clara and Monterey counties to the existing pilot program.
 
The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved SB 524 (Stern - D - Canoga Park) Sponsored by California State Association of Electrical Workers, California State Pipe Trades Council, Western States Council Sheet Metal Workers, this bill requires the CPUC to ensure that work is performed by a skilled and trained workforce for projects receiving at least $50,000 in ratepayer-funded initiatives within a single facility. Undoubtedly because of her affection for anything union, Lorena Gonzalez is now a co-author. Stern claims "achievement of the state's energy and environmental goals through energy efficiency projects is jeopardized by use of unqualified workers to install these projects" but because he is a Democrat and the sponsors are construction unions - no proof is required.
 
Also on the Assembly floor is SB 530 (Galgiani- D - Stockton) that will require DLSE to develop recommendations for industry-specific harassment and discrimination prevention policy and training standard for use by employers in the construction industry. The bill will also require DIR to convene an advisory committee by March 1, 2020, consisting of specified representatives from the construction industry and state agencies to assist the division in developing the policy. Late amendments allow unionized construction industry employers to satisfy sexual harassment training and education requirements by verifying completion of specified training provided by a state-approved apprenticeship program, labor management training trust, or labor management cooperation committee.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   Register Today for the Oct. 2 Webinar: Prevailing Wage and Skilled and Trained Workforce


Join Cook Brown Partner Carrie Bushman as she discusses:
  • Recently enacted statutory provisions regarding new penalties for non-compliance with skilled and trained workforce requirements;
  • The small project exemption for contractor registration and submission of eCPRs;
  • How to read and interpret prevailing wage determinations, including scopes of work, travel and subsistence provisions, and shift differential provisions;
  • Taking credit for fringe benefit contributions;
  • Public works contractor registration requirements;
  • Apprenticeship compliance; and, 
  • Record keeping requirements, including eCPR.
Register today to join us online on October 2, from 8:30-12pm, for this informative webinar.
This webinar is free for WECA member contractors, industry partners, and their employees. All others are $75/registration.

Want a handy Prevailing Wage reference in the meantime? Purchase WECA's updated ePublication, "Blueprint to California's Prevailing Wage: A Contractor's Guide Second Edition." Now available for Amazon Kindle, and as an Interactive PDF.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors and their employees. All others $75.

Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership benefits and services.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   Learn How to Navigate Skilled and Trained Workforce Mandates and Exceptions with Our Nov. 6 Webinar


Do the sheer volume of Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates and exceptions make you feel as though you're all bound up in red tape?

While we can't eliminate bureaucratic madness, what we can do is help you navigate it by providing you with up-to-date information on current Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates. This webinar will cover the basics of Skilled and Trained Workforce requirements, new interpretations of compliance, and legislative changes effective 2020.

Following the Cook Brown LLP Webinar with Partner Carrie Bushman on Prevailing Wage and Skilled and Trained Workforce on October 2nd, which we encourage all our members to attend as a precursor to this webinar, join Richard Markuson of WECA Government Affairs as he takes you through what he calls "the rabbit hole" of California's ever-evolving Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates for public works construction.

Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Wendy Flanagan will also be on the webinar to describe WECA's 'Accelerated Apprenticeship' option for WECA Member Contractors dealing with Skilled and Trained Workforce mandates.

Register today to join us online on November 6, from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m., for this informative webinar.

This webinar is free for WECA Member Contractors, Industry Partners, and their employees. All others are $50/registration.

The 2019 edition of WECA's annual business law publication, Selected California Laws Affecting Electrical and Low Voltage Contractors, is now available for purchase. 

NOTE: WECA members receive a complimentary copy of this book at each year's updated release, as a member benefit.

Register now

Not yet a member of WECA? See our membership benefits and services. 
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   Important Reminders About Supervision Requirements for WECA Apprentices

Please read this brief refresher and overview of Apprentice supervision requirements as they apply to our Member Contractors:
  • All Commercial, Residential, and Low Voltage Apprentices performing FLS work must be supervised by a Certified Electrician or the C10 holder for the company.
  • All Low Voltage Apprentices must be supervised by a qualified journey-level technician.
  • The supervision requirement for all of WECA's Apprenticeship programs is 1 Apprentice to 1 Journey-person. A Certified Journey-person may supervise 1 Apprentice and 1 Electrician Trainee.
  • The supervising Journey-person must lay out the work for the day, ensure the Apprentice has proper instruction and training on how to perform the task, and that the Apprentice is able to perform the task safely.
  • The supervising Journey-person does not have to stand over the Apprentice's shoulder, but must be on the same job site and available to the Apprentice at all times.
  • If, for some reason, an Apprentice does not have a Journey-person available to supervise him or her, the Apprentice should be sent home for the day as it is a violation of WECA's Employer Rules and Regulations to let an Apprentice work without proper supervision.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Wendy Flanagan, Assistant Director of Apprenticeship, by email at wflanagan@goweca.com or by phone at 916-453-0112 extension 145.
 
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   Have Project Labor Agreements Been Taken Too Far? Content courtesy of Cook Brown, LLP


By Dennis Cook and Steve McCutcheon of Cook Brown, LLP

For more than a century the interplay between labor and antitrust law has been a difficult one. Congress has attempted to strike a balance between protection of worker rights and prohibitions of anticompetitive activities.

Environmental laws, such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), are increasingly used to force developers to enter into union-only Project Labor Agreements (PLA). Similarly, the use of antitrust, RICO, and the prohibitions of unlawful boycotts under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to address abusive behavior, are coming back to the forefront. 

Antitrust Laws

When most people think of antitrust law, they think of the Sherman Antitrust Act that prohibits "contracts, combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade." It was adopted in 1890 to outlaw monopolistic business practices. After the Sherman Antitrust Act was applied to various forms of union activity, such as boycotts and strikes, Congress adopted the Clayton Act and Norris-LaGuardia Act to restrict courts from intervening in labor disputes. In 1935 Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to protect the rights of workers to bargain collectively, and engage in strikes, picketing, and other concerted activities.

However, the pendulum had swung too far in the unions' favor. Congress recognized employers and individual workers needed protection from abusive and anti-competitive behavior, and passed the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) and Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). These Acts prohibited unions from:
  • engaging in certain forms of boycotts,
  • threatening or coercing neutral employers from doing business with non-union companies, and
  • making "hot cargo agreements" (an agreement to not handle or deal with the products of anyone with whom the union has a dispute) except in the garment and construction industries.
Project Labor Agreements in Construction

Agreements between owners and unions that contain a commitment to use union-only Project Labor Agreements for all labor on a construction project appear to be among the types of anti-competitive behavior prohibited by the antitrust laws. However, exceptions to these laws are applicable to the construction industry. certain collective bargaining relationships have also opened the door to restrictive subcontracting clauses and the use of union-only PLAs.

Examples of Adopting PLAs

The use of PLAs is common in many parts of the country, and courts have provided guidance on how to avoid running afoul of the NLRA and the antitrust laws when adopting PLAs. For example, in Connell Construction Company v. Plumbers Local 100 the Supreme Court said coercive action by unions to obtain union-only agreements is exempt from antitrust only if the agreement is with an employer "in the construction industry and negotiated in the context of lawful collective bargaining agreements, or possibly to avoid jobsite friction from having union and non-union workers simultaneously on the jobsite." 

Similarly in Glens Falls Building and Construction Trades Council, et al., (Indeck Energy Services of Corinth, Inc.), unions used the threat of environmental opposition to a private project to coerce the private developer to execute a union-only PLA. After the unions withdrew their opposition, the developer filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenging the lawfulness of the union-only PLA.

The Board held that the agreement would be lawful only if the developer was considered "an employer in the construction industry" and the agreement was entered in the context of a bona fide collective bargaining relationship or had the purpose and effect of dealing with the "jobsite friction" issues of having union and non-union workers side by side. The Board found that the union's desire to acquire work for out of work members and achieve a labor monopoly, and the developer's desire to avoid union opposition to the project, were not related to avoiding "jobsite friction". 

PLA Challenges

Adherence to this guidance provided by the Connelland Indeck cases has been inconsistent and at times ignored. Sham environmental lawsuits, zoning and permitting challenges, and threats of boycotts against third parties used to coerce owners to enter into union-only PLAs, has exposed them to antitrust challenges. Agreements with owners and unions that contain a commitment to use a union-only PLA remain common in many parts of the country and are increasingly sought on publicly-owned projects.

Two suits recently filed by developers in Southern California may signal overreach in coercing developers to enter into PLAs, and increasing resistance to pressure to extract union-only agreements.

In Evans Hotels, LLC v. UNITE HERE! Local 30, San Diego County Building and Constructions Trades, et al., the developer, Evans Hotels, alleges that the unions are following a "playbook" to eliminate development of any hotels in San Diego that will not commit to using union labor to build and staff the hotels. When Evans Hotels refused to enter into agreements to use only union contractors, and enter into a card check agreement to facilitate organizing of hotel staff by UNITE HERE!, Evans Hotels alleged the unions implemented their "playbook" of:
  1. making sham environmental and zoning challenges;
  2. pressuring city officials to condition approval of the project on Evans Hotels' agreement to union demands;
  3. pressuring city officials to slow the approval process; and
  4. pressure Evans Hotels' business partners to withdraw from agreements.
After the city's processing of Evans' Hotels' applications for the project ground to a halt, and its business partner backed out of a joint venture, Evans Hotels filed suit in U.S. District Court. The suit alleged an unlawful boycott under the NLRA, an attempt to create a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Act, extortion in violation of RICO statutes, and related claims. Evans Hotels seeks lost profits in excess of $100,000,000 and treble damages under the antitrust laws, as well as injunctive relief.

Similar conduct is challenged by the developer in The Icon at Panorama, LLC v. Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, LiUNA Local 300, et al. This project to redevelop a property that has been vacant for nearly 20 years in a disadvantaged part of Los Angeles was targeted by the unions for a PLA. The developer resisted demands on the basis that the rents that could be charged from the developed property would not justify the expense of using all union contractors.
In response, the unions filed sham environmental challenged under CEQA at every step of the city's approval process. The developer also alleges a conspiracy with others, including environmental firms, to assist the unions with using frivolous challenges designed to achieve a monopoly on construction services in the area. The developer has filed suit in Federal Court alleging that the unions and their environmental consultants have engaged in a pattern of sham environmental litigation and violated:
  1. the Sherman Act by attempting to form a monopoly and directing a boycott;
  2. the Clayton Act by conspiring to enter into an exclusive dealing arrangement;
  3. the NLRA by using coercion to force the developer to sign a PLA when it cannot lawfully do so; and
  4. RICO statutes by engaging in extortion through sham environmental litigation and mail fraud.
While the use of PLAs remain common in many parts of the country, we are starting to see more pushback from employers on the tactics some unions are using to try and coerce developers to enter into these agreements. 

Connect with WECA Industry Partner Cook Brown, LLP here. 
 
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   BICSI's Popular LowVolt Courses Are Back! Explore Fall Offerings at WECA's Rancho Cordova HQ


WECA Instructor John Arias (front right, in the grey shirt) listens intently to the BICSI instructor during the April 15, 2019 session of the BICSI Installer 2, Optical Fiber Training course. 

BICSI classes are heading back to WECA just in time for fall--and we strongly encourage our interested member contractors to enroll themselves or their employees in these courses early, in order to secure seats.

Interested in enrolling yourself or an employee in a BICSI course? See below for the upcoming Fall 2019 dates and to learn more about the courses.  Enrollments are directly with BICSI at the links below. Look for "Rancho Cordova" in the location sidebar for each course.

DD102: Designing Telecommunications Distribution Systems Oct. 28 - Nov. 1

Learn how to design distribution systems in this comprehensive workshop. DD102 is an intensive, hands-on course focused on the design of structured cabling systems. Offering hands-on skill building activities from day one, this knowledge-intensive course instructs you in real-world tasks, preparing you for design roles outside of the classroom. Assignments from the award-winning Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM) augment your learning, allowing you to prepare questions for the classroom. Learn more here.

IN101: BICSI Installer Training Nov. 18 - 22

This course is designed to provide entry-level installers with the background, knowledge and basic skills needed to function safely and effectively as part of a cabling installation team. The BICSI Installer 1 Training course is the introductory course of the Installation Program series. Learn more here.

IN225: BICSI Installer 2, Copper Training Dec. 2 - 6

The course begins with an overview of professionalism, copper transmission principles and general safety practices associated with working with copper cabling. A significant amount of course time will then be spent on BICSI best practices for the installation, termination and testing of copper cable. Learn more here.

IN250: BICSI Installer 2, Optical Fiber Training Dec. 9 - 13

This course will open with an overview of professionalism, fiber transmission principles and the general safety practices related to optical fiber cabling. A significant amount of course time will then be spent on installation, splicing, termination and testing of optical fiber cable. Learn more here. 

TE350: BICSI Technician Training Dec. 16 - 20

A significant amount of course time will be spent on troubleshooting copper and optical fiber cable installations. In addition, this course will cover project planning and implementation at the technician level. Additional topics will include site safety, site surveys, blueprint reading, bonding and grounding (earthing) and firestopping practices.  Learn more here. 

These classes are open to the public. Additionally, they are rarely offered in Northern California, so we encourage our members to take advantage of this convenient opportunity. 

Registrations must be processed directly with BICSI. To learn more about these classes and to enroll yourself or an employee, click on the individual course links above, or visit www.bicsi.org and search course by location for "Rancho Cordova."
Read more >>


Thursday, August 29, 2019   Industry Bulletin on Behalf of the CSLB: Construction Industry Urged to Help CSLB


August 27, 2019                                                                                       CSLB #19-07

SACRAMENTO -- Undercover sting operations are the best way for the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to catch individuals in the act of contracting without a license. In order to continue these efforts to curb the underground economy, CSLB needs access to more residential and commercial properties to use as sting sites.

The stings are conducted by CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Teams (SWIFT) with the assistance of state or local law enforcement agencies. Every year, investigators issue Notices to Appear in court to hundreds of unlicensed contractors during these undercover operations held year-round throughout California.

Licensed contractors have long been one of CSLB's main sources to find properties - whether occupied or unoccupied - for the one - and two-day operations. It's hoped that more licensees will back CSLB's commitment to leveling the playing field for licensed contractors that follow the rules by helping identify and secure sting properties.

There's a need to find sting properties in areas affected by disastrous wildfires, as well as properties in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties.

Ideal Properties include single family homes, small commercial buildings, especially in strip malls, and industrial buildings.

To learn more about these operations to offer a property for a future sting please contact the SWIFT office closest to you:
Read more >>


Thursday, August 22, 2019   Opinions

 


Richard Markuson

Capitol Weekly's Top 100
 
Capitol Weekly is a publication of Open California, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2012 to inform, enlighten and educate Californians about public policy and state governance, and to provide a platform for engagement with public officials, advocates and political interests.
 
One of their more interesting projects is an annual listing of the top influencers in Sacramento. And no, dear reader, yours truly is not on the list.
 
Fittingly, at the top of the list is Ann O'Leary, Governor Gavin Newsom's chief of staff. Several other staff follow - but number five on the list, and the first "non-government" name - is Robbie Hunter.
 
Robbie Hunter, an ironworker and descendant of a guy who worked on the Titanic, is always high on this list, and deservedly so. His outfit - the State Building and Construction Trades Council, or BCTC - celebrated a major victory in November when they and their allies pushed hard to beat back Proposition 6, the attempt to repeal California's new gasoline tax increase that initially was backed by a narrow majority of voters. The $5 billion tax hike means money for big-ticket construction jobs for thousands of workers at the prevailing wage. BCTC is affiliated with 160 unions with 350,000 members - and that's right up Hunter's alley. Hunter was a go-to person for Jerry Brown on building support for infrastructure funding, and he likely will play a similar function for Newsom, with whom he is fast building a relationship. One veteran Capitol watcher we spoke to said BCTC has become the single most important labor force in California, above even the California Teachers Association and the SEIU. Maybe. But money, jobs and politics are a potent mix in Sacramento, and Hunter stirs the pot.
 
The only two other business folk in the top ten are Allen Zaremberg of the California Chamber of Commerce (8) and Bill Devine with AT&T (10).
 
Other notable influencers are:
 
Scott Wetch (#59): Organized labor is heavily represented on this list, and one of the reasons is Wetch, who represents union interests first, last and always. His clients include the Building and Construction Trades Council (see #5), State Pipe Trades Council and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, among others. Wetch has earned a reputation as a notorious bill-killer if legislation coming out of the Capitol threatens his constituents' interests. He worked at the Capitol for over 12 years prior to teaming up with his now-retired lobbying partner Art Carter.
 
Cesar Diaz (#83): The longtime legislative and political director of the California Building and Construction Trades Council. The Council represents blue-collar workers ranging from boilermakers to bricklayers, and they stand to do well as those much-needed infrastructure repairs and new construction get underway. Diaz was formerly deputy legislative director of the Council and before that was senior policy consultant in the lieutenant governor's office. He works to maintain that McCarthy-style feistiness on behalf of those blue collars.
 
So what does it mean to be on the list? As Anthony York, the former editor of Capitol Weekly put it: "... these lists ... offer a mirror of our little world, filled with that intriguing stew of public service, ideological force and narcissistic drive. That is what makes our political community the frustrating and exhilarating amalgamation that it is." But for the merit-shop community, it is a cautionary note that the head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council is number five on the list - and the first person not in the Newsom administration (at least not officially). You can see the whole list  here.
Read more >>


Thursday, August 22, 2019   What We're Reading, Listening To, and Watching

7 trends making engineering, construction claims bigger and costlier A new report from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) examined rising claims costs related to construction and engineering projects. The hope is that understanding the significant, steady increases in construction claims will enable insurers to better manage the associated risks. The report, Engineering and Construction Claims and Insurance Trends, outlines several trends contributing to these rising costs. 

California Clean California's clean energy efforts received a five-start review from E2, a coalition of business leaders that advocates for better environmental policies. The coalition released its 2019 Clean Jobs Report yesterday that found the Golden State is home to more than 500,000 clean energy workers - more than any other state. It also found that one out of every seven of the United States' clean energy jobs is located in California. The hundreds of thousands of workers are scattered throughout the state working in industries to advance energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean vehicle initiatives. "Year after year, clean energy provides immense value to the California economy - creating thousands of good-paying jobs, protecting the environment for future growth, and attracting billions in investments," said Andy Wunder, E2's Western states advocate. "California lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure those jobs, and the state's clean energy economy, continue to grow by strengthening and implementing forward-looking policies." Most of the jobs are located in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego metros, although Central Valley and coastal counties also account for a significant portion of clean energy posts. The workforce is diverse, too. A quarter of the workers are employed by small businesses with fewer than five employees, 40 percent live outside major cities and close to 10 percent are military veterans. Despite its glowing report, E2 urges California to more aggressively work to reach its carbon reduction targets. "State lawmakers should advance policy that allows for full integration of the Western electric grid to open new markets for California's clean energy resources and reduce customer bills," the report noted. "They should also increase and ensure outgoing, stable funding for clean vehicle initiatives." 

DOL Backs Up on Building Trades Decision: The department quickly reversed course last week on cancelling several apprenticeship contracts with labor and business groups after complaints from the North America's Building Trades Unions, a group that's been a Trump ally, Bloomberg Law's Ben Penn reports. "It appears to us a political decision has been made by a new regime at the Department of Labor," North America's Building Trades Unions chief of staff Mike Monroe told Penn of the initial cancellation. Recently installed acting Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella, "who was not involved in the cancellation decisions, made the call to walk them back Aug. 15," according to Penn. This isn't the first time the Building Trades - which embraced Trump at the start of his presidency - recently has been at odds with the administration. The powerful union federation has "been at the brink of war" with DOL over its apprenticeship initiative, which it worries will undermine its own job-training programs, POLITICO's Ian Kullgren reported. The disagreement threatens to upset a key voting bloc that was essential to Trump in 2016. [Politico]

Central Valley lawmaker files initiative that would boost hydropower Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) has submitted a ballot initiative that would allow large hydropower projects to qualify for state renewable electricity targets, continuing a push by Central Valley lawmakers to boost the resource. Gray filed the initiative Friday with the Secretary of State that would count large-scale hydropower toward California's renewables portfolio standard for utilities. The target is currently set at 60 percent by 2030 by CA SB1000 (17R), but does not include hydropower projects above 30 megawatts because policymakers are trying to encourage development of wind and solar power. "For years, the people of the Northern San Joaquin Valley have been trying to get hydropower recognized for what it is: the original source of clean electricity," he wrote in a recent op-ed in CalMatters. "Our efforts have been stymied by people who feel entitled to decide what is, or isn't, green enough." Gray also introduced a constitutional amendment in the Legislature last month, CA ACA17 (19R), that would do the same thing. And Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) introduced CA SB386 (19R) earlier this session specifically to allow municipal utilities in her region, the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, to count electricity from Don Pedor Dam towards their renewables requirements. Gray also cited the financial burden on Merced, Modesto,  and Turlock in his op-ed, estimating that allowing Turlock to count hydropower would save its 100,000 customers $300 million. "Several environmental organizations and SB 100's author, former Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, went nuts" over Caballero's bill, Gray wrote. "The bill was halted even though the federal government and virtually every other state considers hydropower renewable." An environmentalist pointed out that large hydro would count towards the 2045 "zero-carbon" goal, also contained in SB 100. "It totally counts as a zero-carbon power source once we hit 2030," said Dan Jacobson of Environment California. "I just think we don't need to incentivize hydropower, and we need to continue to incentivize and encourage solar and wind development." [Politico]
Read more >>


Thursday, August 22, 2019   Washington, D.C., Labor Law, and NLRB

SECURE Retirement Legislation Passed in House, Pending in Senate The SECURE Act is still pending in the US Senate, but the legislation passed the House of Representatives with proposed changes that would increase access to defined contribution plans, promote lifetime income options, and affect retirement plan design and administration. Story
  
SEIU Challenges Secondary Boycott Ruling: The NLRB violated workers' First Amendment rights by ruling against janitors who demonstrated outside a building in San Francisco, SEIU argued in a federal court filing this week. The NLRB last year ruled that the janitors, who protested alleged sexual harassment by their boss outside of a building that they cleaned, weren't entitled to federal protection from retaliation. That's because they picketed outside a building where their employer, a contracted cleaning company, wasn't located (rather, the workers protested at the offices of a local radio station where they clean). According to the NLRB, the workers violated the law by directing their opposition at the radio station, a third party, instead of the employer itself - a "secondary boycott" in labor law parlance. But SEIU argues that the board's decision violates the workers' free speech rights, in part because they carried signs clarifying that they were "NOT calling for a boycott of this building." According to the union, the NLRB's reliance on a technicality - the use of the word "their" on a leaflet - to rule against the workers "contradicts the core First Amendment principles" and is "likely to chill protected speech."
 
NLRB Proposes New Election Rules This past week, the National Labor Relations Board proposed new election rules. These two rules, if passed, will ultimately further empower employees with the choice of whether they want union representation. As the proposed changes will impact both employers and unions, everyone involved in the bargaining process should be mindful of these proposals to avoid labor disputes. Story
 
San Francisco Employers May Have to Pay More in Paid Parental Leave Benefits in 2020 As Bay Area employers are well aware, San Francisco has several local employment-related ordinances that provide additional benefits to individuals performing work within the geographical boundaries of the City. One such benefit is paid parental leave.  Story 
Read more >>


Thursday, August 22, 2019   Have Project Labor Agreements Been Taken Too Far?

Content courtesy of WECA Industry Partner Cook Brown, LLP
 


By Dennis Cook and Steve McCutcheon of Cook Brown, LLP For more than a century the interplay between labor and antitrust law has been a difficult one. Congress has attempted to strike a balance between protection of worker rights and prohibitions of anticompetitive activities.

Environmental laws, such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), are increasingly used to force developers to enter into union-only Project Labor Agreements (PLA). Similarly, the use of antitrust, RICO, and the prohibitions of unlawful boycotts under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to address abusive behavior, are coming back to the forefront. 

Antitrust Laws

When most people think of antitrust law, they think of the Sherman Antitrust Act that prohibits "contracts, combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade." It was adopted in 1890 to outlaw monopolistic business practices. After the Sherman Antitrust Act was applied to various forms of union activity, such as boycotts and strikes, Congress adopted the Clayton Act and Norris-LaGuardia Act to restrict courts from intervening in labor disputes. In 1935 Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to protect the rights of workers to bargain collectively, and engage in strikes, picketing, and other concerted activities.

However, the pendulum had swung too far in the unions' favor. Congress recognized employers and individual workers needed protection from abusive and anti-competitive behavior, and passed the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) and Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). These Acts prohibited unions from:
  • engaging in certain forms of boycotts,
  • threatening or coercing neutral employers from doing business with non-union companies, and
  • making "hot cargo agreements" (an agreement to not handle or deal with the products of anyone with whom the union has a dispute) except in the garment and construction industries.
Project Labor Agreements in Construction
Agreements between owners and unions that contain a commitment to use union-only Project Labor Agreements for all labor on a construction project appear to be among the types of anti-competitive behavior prohibited by the antitrust laws. However, exceptions to these laws are applicable to the construction industry. certain collective bargaining relationships have also opened the door to restrictive subcontracting clauses and the use of union-only PLAs.

Examples of Adopting PLAs

The use of PLAs is common in many parts of the country, and courts have provided guidance on how to avoid running afoul of the NLRA and the antitrust laws when adopting PLAs. For example, in Connell Construction Company v. Plumbers Local 100 the Supreme Court said coercive action by unions to obtain union-only agreements is exempt from antitrust only if the agreement is with an employer "in the construction industry and negotiated in the context of lawful collective bargaining agreements, or possibly to avoid jobsite friction from having union and non-union workers simultaneously on the jobsite." 

Similarly in Glens Falls Building and Construction Trades Council, et al., (Indeck Energy Services of Corinth, Inc.), unions used the threat of environmental opposition to a private project to coerce the private developer to execute a union-only PLA. After the unions withdrew their opposition, the developer filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenging the lawfulness of the union-only PLA.

The Board held that the agreement would be lawful only if the developer was considered "an employer in the construction industry" and the agreement was entered in the context of a bona fide collective bargaining relationship or had the purpose and effect of dealing with the "jobsite friction" issues of having union and non-union workers side by side. The Board found that the union's desire to acquire work for out of work members and achieve a labor monopoly, and the developer's desire to avoid union opposition to the project, were not related to avoiding "jobsite friction". 

PLA Challenges

Adherence to this guidance provided by the Connelland Indeck cases has been inconsistent and at times ignored. Sham environmental lawsuits, zoning and permitting challenges, and threats of boycotts against third parties used to coerce owners to enter into union-only PLAs, has exposed them to antitrust challenges. Agreements with owners and unions that contain a commitment to use a union-only PLA remain common in many parts of the country and are increasingly sought on publicly-owned projects.

Two suits recently filed by developers in Southern California may signal overreach in coercing developers to enter into PLAs, and increasing resistance to pressure to extract union-only agreements.

In Evans Hotels, LLC v. UNITE HERE! Local 30, San Diego County Building and Constructions Trades, et al., the developer, Evans Hotels, alleges that the unions are following a "playbook" to eliminate development of any hotels in San Diego that will not commit to using union labor to build and staff the hotels. When Evans Hotels refused to enter into agreements to use only union contractors, and enter into a card check agreement to facilitate organizing of hotel staff by UNITE HERE!, Evans Hotels alleged the unions implemented their "playbook" of:
  1. making sham environmental and zoning challenges;
  2. pressuring city officials to condition approval of the project on Evans Hotels' agreement to union demands;
  3. pressuring city officials to slow the approval process; and
  4. pressure Evans Hotels' business partners to withdraw from agreements.
After the city's processing of Evans' Hotels' applications for the project ground to a halt, and its business partner backed out of a joint venture, Evans Hotels filed suit in U.S. District Court. The suit alleged an unlawful boycott under the NLRA, an attempt to create a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Act, extortion in violation of RICO statutes, and related claims. Evans Hotels seeks lost profits in excess of $100,000,000 and treble damages under the antitrust laws, as well as injunctive relief.

Similar conduct is challenged by the developer in The Icon at Panorama, LLC v. Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, LiUNA Local 300, et al. This project to redevelop a property that has been vacant for nearly 20 years in a disadvantaged part of Los Angeles was targeted by the unions for a PLA. The developer resisted demands on the basis that the rents that could be charged from the developed property would not justify the expense of using all union contractors.
In response, the unions filed sham environmental challenged under CEQA at every step of the city's approval process. The developer also alleges a conspiracy with others, including environmental firms, to assist the unions with using frivolous challenges designed to achieve a monopoly on construction services in the area. The developer has filed suit in Federal Court alleging that the unions and their environmental consultants have engaged in a pattern of sham environmental litigation and violated:
  1. the Sherman Act by attempting to form a monopoly and directing a boycott;
  2. the Clayton Act by conspiring to enter into an exclusive dealing arrangement;
  3. the NLRA by using coercion to force the developer to sign a PLA when it cannot lawfully do so; and
  4. RICO statutes by engaging in extortion through sham environmental litigation and mail fraud.
While the use of PLAs remain common in many parts of the country, we are starting to see more pushback from employers on the tactics some unions are using to try and coerce developers to enter into these agreements. 

Connect with WECA Industry Partner Cook Brown LLP at https://www.cookbrown.com/.
Read more >>


Wednesday, August 21, 2019   LowVolt BICSI Courses Are Back! Explore Offerings at WECA's Rancho Cordova HQ from Oct. 28 - Dec. 20


WECA Instructor John Arias (front right, in the grey shirt) listens intently to the BICSI instructor during the April 15, 2019 session of the BICSI Installer 2, Optical Fiber Training Course.

Low Voltage BICSI classes are headed back to WECA just in time for fall--and we strongly encourage those interested to enroll early, in order to secure seats.

Interested in enrolling in a BICSI course? See below for the upcoming Fall 2019 dates and to learn more about the courses. Enrollments are directly with BICSI at the links below. Look for "Rancho Cordova" in the location sidebar for each course. 

DD102: Designing Telecommunications Distribution Systems Oct. 28 - Nov. 1

Learn how to design distribution systems in this comprehensive workshop. DD102 is an intensive, hands-on course focused on the design of structured cabling systems. Offering hands-on skill building activities from day one, this knowledge-intensive course instructs you in real-world tasks, preparing you for design roles outside of the classroom. Assignments from the award-winning Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (TDMM) augment your learning, allowing you to prepare questions for the classroom. Learn more here.

IN101: BICSI Installer Training Nov. 18 - 22

This course is designed to provide entry-level installers with the background, knowledge and basic skills needed to function safely and effectively as part of a cabling installation team. The BICSI Installer 1 Training course is the introductory course of the Installation Program series. Learn more here.

IN225: BICSI Installer 2, Copper Training Dec. 2 - 6

The course begins with an overview of professionalism, copper transmission principles and general safety practices associated with working with copper cabling. A significant amount of course time will then be spent on BICSI best practices for the installation, termination and testing of copper cable. Learn more here.

IN250: BICSI Installer 2, Optical Fiber Training Dec. 9 - 13

This course will open with an overview of professionalism, fiber transmission principles and the general safety practices related to optical fiber cabling. A significant amount of course time will then be spent on installation, splicing, termination and testing of optical fiber cable. Learn more here.
 
TE350: BICSI Technician Training Dec. 16 - 20

A significant amount of course time will be spent on troubleshooting copper and optical fiber cable installations. In addition, this course will cover project planning and implementation at the technician level. Additional topics will include site safety, site surveys, blueprint reading, bonding and grounding (earthing) and firestopping practices. Learn more here. 

These classes are open to the public. Additionally, they are rarely offered in Northern California, so we encourage our apprentices, electrician trainees, and journeymen to take advantage of this convenient opportunity.

Registrations must be processed directly with BICSI. To learn more about these classes and to enroll, click on the individual course links above, or visit www.bicsi.org and search course by location for "Rancho Cordova". 
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019   Giving a Warm WECA 'Welcome Back!' to New Lead Instructor for Our ET/CE Program!



It's all come full circle for Galen Eckert, WECA's new Lead Instructor for its Electrician Trainee and Continuing Education programs.

Eckert - a longtime Sacramento resident originally hailing from Cleveland, OH - spent a year in WECA's Electrician Trainee program before joining the Apprenticeship program and graduating as the Commercial Apprenticeship Salutatorian of the class of 2013.

After graduating from WECA, Eckert spent "the majority of my career working for PB Electric in Rancho Cordova, where our main focus was industrial work like water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, lift stations, pump stations, newspaper presses, as well as projects for SMUD."

Though Eckert enjoyed working in the field, there was a yearning to "come home".

"My interest in working for WECA began as a student, because being an instructor 'on the other side of things' intrigued me," said Eckert. "Plus, I always enjoyed teaching and training apprentices and co-workers in the field and thought, 'Why not make it a full-time job?"

As Lead Instructor, Eckert teaches, sets up, and manages the GetWired! labs and its corresponding materials; works with instructors to resolve any issues that may arise; mentors his fellow instructors to be the best instructors possible; helps run the typical day-to-day aspects of the program; and acts as a confidant for instructors and students alike.

"When working in the field, I always took great pride in my hands-on work and my part in creating a perfect finished project," said Eckert. "I now look to take my knowledge of the trade and pass it on to future electricians in hopes of helping them achieve their goals, maximize their potential, and become some of the best electricians around."

Continues Eckert, "My personal philosophy is simple. I am honest, straightforward, and hardworking. And I'm always giving 100 percent to produce a product I can be proud of."

In his personal time, Eckert enjoys building and driving his hot rods, and taking them to car shows and the race track. In addition to that, Eckert likes golfing, fishing, hiking, and stand-up comedy. And last - but not least - Eckert is a Clevelander at heart, stating that he is a "huge fan of all the Cleveland sports teams as well as The Ohio State Buckeyes as Cleveland is my true home."

Welcome home, Galen. We're thrilled to have you back!
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019   Harness the Power of the Sun with WECA's Solar Courses; Some With SEI & Mike Holt


Are you interested in broadening your knowledge to focus on solar? We're seeing a lot of opportunities on the horizon for electrical contractors--expand your skill set and make yourself even more valuable to these employers! 

Corporate and consumer interest in solar power is burgeoning, and opportunities for electrical contractors in performing this work are growing.

Get a leg up on the competition with WECA's self-paced online solar courses offered in partnership with Solar Energy International and Mike Holt.

Explore the offerings from our solar course catalog below, and enroll today to join or stay up-to-date with this thriving industry. 

Faultless Solar (32-hour course)

This course combines two of WECA's popular courses, "Faultless" and "Solar Power for Electricians", into one convenient 32-hour package. Learn about how to coordinate information in specific NEC articles, so you can properly select and install the correct electrical circuit components and conductors needed for different load and circuit configurations. Then, build on that knowledge as you learn about the fundamental concepts required for safe, code-compliant installation of residential and commercial-scale Solar Photovoltaic systems. Enroll today!

PVOL101: Solar Electric Design and Installation (Grid-Direct) (60-hour course)
This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is for students who want to learn the fundamentals and gain a solid understanding of various components, system architectures, and applications for PV systems. Successful completion of this course results in State of California Journeyman Continuing Education or Electrician Trainee hours, and also counts as one of the two courses required to qualify students to sit for the NABCEP PV Associate Exam. Enroll today!
 
PVOL202: Advanced PV System Design and the NEC (Grid-Direct) (60-hour course)

This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is for students who want to take a deep dive into National Electrical Code 2017 standards as well as other best practices that pertain to designing grid-direct PV systems. 
Enroll today!

PVOL203: PV System Fundamentals (Battery-Based) (40-hour course)

This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is for students who want to focus on the fundamentals of battery-based PV systems. Components such as batteries, charge controllers, and battery-based inverters are covered in detail, along with safety and maintenance considerations unique to battery-based systems, load analysis, battery bank configuration, and the electrical integration of the system. Enroll today!

 PVOL350: Tools and Techniques for Operations and Maintenance (40-hour course) 

This scheduled self-paced instructor-led course from WECA education partner Solar Energy International is an advanced online training targeted towards solar professionals who want to take their technical skills to the next level. This course is geared towards training PV technicians to safely and effectively perform operations and maintenance (O&M) tasks including inspections, commissioning, performance verification, and troubleshooting.  Enroll today!

The PVOL101 through PVOL203 courses are also offered in Spanish. Learn more here.

Solar Power for Electricians (16-hour course) (2014 NEC Edition)

Learn about the fundamental concepts required for safe, code-compliant installation of residential and commercial-scale Photovoltaic systems.  Enroll today!

Understanding 2014 NEC Requirements for Solar Photovoltaic Systems Home Study (DVD Based) (16-hour course) 

This 16-hour course is based on Mike Holt's "Illustrated Guide to Understanding NEC Requirements for Solar Photovoltaic Systems, based on the 2014 NEC" textbook and DVDs. 
 Enroll today!
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019   Start or Continue Your Electrician Trainee Certificate Journey; Enroll in Falll GetWired! Courses


Apprenticeship isn't the only educational path to certification in California--and WECA's GetWired! courses make up our Electrician Trainee Program Certificate, another way to qualify to sit for the certification exam in California!

To learn more about or enroll in WECA's Fall 2019 GetWired! courses, view the Electrician Trainee Course Catalog here. 

Fall courses are open for online enrollment, and of course you can also enroll over the phone at (877) 444-9322, in person, or by email. Many GetWired! courses fill fast; enroll early to secure your seat.

If you have any questions regarding a particular course, please call (877) 444-9322 or email us at info@goweca.com.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019   Around HQ in August: Instructor John Arias Demonstrates Exothermic Welding


WECA instructor John Arias demonstrates exothermic welding for the cameras during filming of an educational demo this week. 

Exothermic welding is the permanent joining of two metals by an exothermic reaction that is not susceptible to loose connections, corrosion or other problems associated with mechanical connections. 

Exothermic welding is utilized in the commercial sector for attaching to the grounding electrode and building steel among other things, and the low voltage sector for attachment to the telecommunication bonding infrastructure.
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