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NationalThursday, October 17, 2019
California Contagion Spreads - New York is Next: According to POLITICO, "A new labor-backed coalition wants New York State to follow our lead in reclassifying gig-economy independent contractors as employees. The group wants the state to establish a three-part test to determine whether a worker should be compensated as an independent contractor or as an employee eligible for more protections and benefits. 'Tech organizations backed by companies like Uber and Lyft are resisting the effort, arguing that it makes no sense to impose an old fashioned employment model on a new way of doing business,'" they write. "'Instead, they argue for some sort of 'third way,' involving portable benefits and say they hope to work with the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to build a system that works in the state.' The issue is expected to be addressed in the next legislative session, which starts in January."
 
Sanders Proposes Boost in Worker Ownership: POLITICO reported on a plan by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to boost his standing with the Socialists in the United States. "Sanders wants to provide workers with an ownership stake in their businesses," they write. "Under his proposal, employees at large companies would be given 20 percent of the shares. They would also have control of 45 percent of the seats on the board of directors." How it would work: "Companies that meet Sanders' guidelines - ones that are publicly traded or bring in $100 million or more in annual revenue - would be required to give at least 2 percent of their stock to their employees every year, until they reach 20 percent. The plan also would increase the corporate tax from 21 percent to 35 percent (where it stood before Republicans passed their tax overhaul in 2017)."
 
Alaska Cracks Down on Union Dues: The fake New York Times reported that Alaska's new governor, Mike Dunleavy, issued an administrative order that "'proposes to halt payroll deductions for union dues and require state workers to go through a cumbersome, multi-step process to restore that option.' Dunleavy said the plan was intended not to harm unions but to comply with the Supreme Court's ruling last year in Janus v. AFSCME, which barred government unions from collecting mandatory fees from non-union members to cover their share of collective bargaining costs. Under the policy 'state workers will have to declare that they want to opt into the union and sign an acknowledgement that they know they do not have to have such representation. They will then need a second layer of authentication, such as an email exchange, to reaffirm their intentions. And they will have to repeat the opt-in process every year.'"
Legislative Year in ReviewThursday, October 17, 2019
 

Richard Markuson

With the 2019 California Legislative Session concluded, here is a comparison to the last Session, and an overview of how many bills Governor Newsom signed and vetoed compared with the last two-year session under Governor Brown.
 
Bills introduced in the 2019 Session: 2,625. Of these, 870 bills were signed into law and 172 bills (16.5 percent) were vetoed.
 
Bills introduced in the 2017-18 Session: 4,775. Of these, 1,875 were signed into law and 319 bills (14.5 percent) were vetoed.
 
Thus, in Newsom's first year in office, his veto rate was slightly above Brown's veto rate in his last two years in office (but close to his 16-year average).
 
But the big question is - does California need 870 statutory changes every year? I'll let you be the judge.
 
Now let's look at a few bills Governor Newson signed - and vetoed.
 
He vetoed the one CEQA bill that wasn't part of a union-approved sports arena deal. AB 394 (Obernolte - R) that would have exempted from CEQA "an egress route project specifically recommended by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection that improves fire safety of an existing residential subdivision if specified conditions are met." It had no opposition and only one "no" vote in the Assembly, but Newsom said "the CEQA exemption provided in this bill is premature and may result in unintended consequences." Yeah - like people trying to get out of a fire zone when the only road is blocked! Does the fact that Obernolte, in addition to being a Republican, is also a candidate for Congress in 2020 have anything to do with the veto?
 
But he also vetoed AB 520 (Kalra - D) that would have set the threshold of public support for public works application at $500,000. This was a BIG defeat for the State Building and Construction Trades Council. Newsom - who is in a bit of a tiff with the trades - said "While I steadfastly support prevailing wage law, I am concerned that the restrictive nature of this law may have unintended consequences. Further, there is nothing to suggest that the longstanding administrative practice of considering the public subsidy in the context of the project and using two percent as a general threshold is insufficient."
 
In reply, Robbie Hunter said (in part), "National politics provides us a cautionary tale of what happens when the working class is forgotten by candidates who are steeped in the ambitions of unrequited presidential aspirations. California could, and should, do better for workers and their families." The trades have also been running a social media campaign that blames Newsom for recent worker deaths because of a delay in appointments to the OSHA standards board.
 
Several measures that would have changed or expanded Skilled and Trained Workforce died or were delayed in the Legislature.
 
AB 168 (Aguiar-Curry - D) would have amended SB 35 of last year that authorizes a development proponent to submit an application for a multifamily housing development that is subject to a streamlined, ministerial approval process, to include a requirement that the development not be located on a site that is a tribal cultural resource. Existing law requires payment of prevailing wages and apprentice wages even if the project is not a public works and prohibits the DLSE from enforcing the Labor Code if the Project is covered by a PLA. AB 35 also waives CPRs on projects covered by a PLA. (2-year bill)
 
AB 1177 (Frazier - D) would have repealed the Skilled and Trained Workforce provisions in SB 35 from last year - from a Democrat. (2-year bill)
 
AB 1706 (Quirk - D) would have created specified financial incentives for development proponents of residential housing development in the nine-county San Francisco Bay area region. The bill requires payment of prevailing wages and apprentice wages even if the project is not a public works and prohibits the DLSE from enforcing the Labor Code if the Project is covered by a PLA. AB 1706 also waives CPRs on projects covered by a PLA. (2-year bill)
 
SB 4 (McGuire and Beall - D) would have created a streamlined approval process for eligible projects within a half-mile of fixed rail or ferry terminals in cities of 50,000 residents or more in smaller counties and in all urban areas in counties with over a million residents. It also creates a streamlined approval process for duplexes and fourplexes, as specified, in residential areas on vacant, infill parcels. Requires SATWF unless covered by a PLA; exempts contractors under a PLA from completing CPRs. (2-year bill)
 
SB 25 (Caballero and Glazer - D) would grant accelerated CEQA appeals for certain housing projects. Requires SATWF unless covered by a PLA, exempts contractors under a PLA from completing CPRs. (2-year bill)
 
SB 524 (Stern) is sponsored by California State Association of Electrical Workers, California State Pipe Trades Council, Western States Council Sheet Metal Workers, and would require the CPUC to direct energy efficiency program administrators 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. (2-year bill)
 
But there was a big bill - AB 48 - that will be on the March 2020 ballot. It is a $15 billion school bond that has some developer concessions - so of course the trades got something. School construction projects with PLAs get priority over other projects without PLAs.
 
Next time we'll cover the major bills Newsom signed that will affect employers next year.
California State Capitol

Merit Shop Advocacy for California

Richard Markuson, WECA Lobbyist

Richard Markuson

"Merit shop electrical contractors throughout California are under pressure from a political system that limits their ability to compete for and win public works contracts. Through our coordinated efforts to further the interests of the merit shop community, we will make doing business in California fair and profitable again."

WECA Government Affairs

Political Advocacy and Government Affairs

WECA is the only organization in California that focuses exclusively on the needs of electrical contractors and their employees. We are proud to represent thousands of electricians and hundreds of contractors. Our members believe that fair and open competition is the key to a robust and growing economy. Our members embrace the idea that political action is not simply prudent, but essential to preserving and enhancing their ability to pursue business opportunities in both the public and private marketplace.

The WECA governmental affairs staff works hard to protect the rights of merit shop business owners and their employees throughout California, but our efforts cannot succeed unless those in the merit shop community get involved.

Routine activities of the GA staff includes:

  • Monitoring all State Legislative and Regulatory proposals for beneficial and detrimental changes
  • Regular interaction with other business and construction groups in California and nationwide
  • Maintenance of a regular presence in Washington DC through membership in the US Chamber of Commerce and trips to Capitol Hill to lobby on Federal initiatives
  • Maintaining close working relationships with other merit shop groups such as CFEC, ABC chapters, AGC, ASCA, and Calpasc
  • Routinely monitors more than 305 local agencies including Cities, Counties, School Districts and other Special Districts
  • Evaluates state-wide ballot measures and candidates and recommends support for those causes and candidates that support WECA’s core values
  • Encourages appointment of state and local officials who will approach their assignments without prejudice
  • This website is designed to both educate our members and to empower them to have the greatest possible impact when it comes to effecting political change on the local, state and federal levels. Check out the latest political news and action alerts, learn more about the WECA Political Action Committee (WECA-PAC), and take a moment to visit the partner organizations we work with.

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WECA Political Advocacy