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WECA Political Update April 15, 2021

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Labor-Backed Coronavirus Rehiring Bill Heads to Governor from Politico California workers in hotel, airport, and building services industries who were laid off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic would be first in line for rehiring under SB 93, a budget trailer bill sent to Gov. Newsom less than a week after the Legislature adopted the language. Democratic leadership's decision to ram it through the Legislature at high speed comes as previously shuttered economic sectors have started to reopen across the state, leaving some workers unsure if they’ll be able to return to their former jobs. The measure is likely to receive a prompt signature from Newsom, whose administration was involved in negotiating the proposal. The governor vetoed a similar measure last year, describing its language as overly broad.
Who Pays Taxes? The California Tax Foundation released the fifth edition of “California Tax Facts: An Overview of the Golden State’s Tax Structure,” a reference for taxpayers, elected officials, and the media.
Among the tax facts included in this edition:

  • The top 5 percent of earners pay 67.2 percent of the state’s total personal income tax revenue (up from 66.6 percent in the 2019 edition).
  • Businesses pay more than two-thirds of the total property tax burden, at 67.05 percent in the 2019-20 assessment period (homeowners account for the remaining 32.95 percent). Businesses’ share of property taxes is up from 63.35 percent two years earlier and is almost 9 percent higher than immediately after passage of Proposition 13 (the tax reform measure of 1978).
  • From 2000 to 2018, the collective revenue of 482 California cities grew from $47.6 billion to $92.2 billion, while spending by those cities increased from $46.7 billion to $85.2 billion.
“California Tax Facts” presents data from the state tax agencies in charts and graphs and includes descriptions and definitions to help Californians understand the state and local taxes they pay.

Whitehouse Releases State by State Analysis of Infrastructure Needs On Monday, the White House released state-by-state fact sheets that highlight their analysis of the investments proposed by President Biden in the American Jobs Plan. The fact sheets highlight the number of bridges and miles of road in each state in poor condition, the percentage of households without broadband access, the billions of dollars required for water infrastructure, among other infrastructure needs. Biden notes, “As of 2019, there were 536,919 Californians working in clean energy, and the American Jobs Plan invests in creating more good paying union jobs advancing clean energy…” You can read the reports here

SANDAG Adopts Pro-Union Resolution in Contentious Vote In what some see as ideological bulldozing, SANDAG’s governing board narrowly passed a resolution on April 9 favoring unions big-dollar regional infrastructure planning, making one exception for non-union African American contractors. Story

California Politicians Owe $2 Million In Campaign Fines, Don’t Get Punished from CalMatters’ “The debts are owed by a range of political players, according to a list published on the secretary of state’s website that details outstanding fines as of April 1. It shows fines owed by 26 state lawmakers and 21 superior court judges, as well as former legislators, losing candidates, ballot measure campaigns, Democratic and Republican clubs, and corporate and labor-backed political action committees.” Story

California Supreme Court Expands the Reach of the California Prevailing Wage Law The trend over the last 20 years has been for California's prevailing wage law to spread to areas previously unimagined. This spread has been due to inexact drafting of the law, constant tinkering by the Legislature, and expansive readings of this arcane statute by the courts and agencies charged with its enforcement. It has been aptly described as the “Winchester Mystery House” of California wage and hour law: always under construction or modification, never finished, with strange and inexplicable features like its namesake’s stairways that stop at ceilings and doorways that lead nowhere. The recent California Supreme Court decision in Kaanaana v. Barrett Business Services Inc. is another step in this trend, holding that work done for a “special district” can be considered a “public work” under Labor Code section 1720(a)(2). The payment of prevailing wages is therefore required, whether or not the work being performed relates to the traditional subjects of the law: “construction, alteration, demolition, installation or repair” work, or certain kinds of “maintenance.” Article

Biden to Nominate Chief of Cal/OSHA to Head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration On April 9, 2021, President Biden announced that he intends to nominate Doug Parker as the assistant secretary of labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Since September 2019, Mr. Parker has been the chief of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Cal/OSHA, which enforces California’s safety and health regulations at worksites in California. Story

NLRB Announces it Will Robustly Enforce Protections of the National Labor Relations Act On March 31, 2021, the Acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued a memorandum (GC 21-03) to the regional field offices expressing his intent to vigorously and robustly enforce the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act protecting employees’ rights to engage in concerted activities for mutual aid or protection. While the Memorandum does not and cannot change existing law, it is an important reminder for employers that the NLRA does not just apply to union employees or to employees seeking to form or join a union. Article