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Government Affairs and Merit Shop AdvocacyMonday, September 18, 2023
Sacramento Supervisor Rich Desmond Grants Construction Unions a No-Bid, Sole-Source Contract for $1.3 Billion of Work at Sacramento International In a victory for union construction workers, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved a plan 3-2 requiring that construction work on the $1.3 billion renovation and expansion of Sacramento International Airport be done by union members.
Desmond replaced Susan Peters on the Board of Supervisors in 2020 – defeating hard-left SMUD Board member Gregg Fishman by 2,100 votes with strong business support who mistakenly saw Desmond as a pragmatic replacement for Peters who would balance the Board of Supervisors from being dominated by the former union attorney Patrick Kennedy and the communist progressive son of former Sacramento Mayor Joe Serna.
Desmond visited WECA’s Mather campus and commented at the meeting that all state-approved apprentices should be able to build at SMF and that benefits should follow the worker. But when the Sacramento Building Trades reminded him of his apparent promises to support the trades intent to monopolize the SMF work, he folded like the cheap tent he is. He refused to direct the airport staff to incorporate fair contracting protections in the union-drafted board resolution that locks out responsible merit shop apprentices, journeypersons, and contractors from these projects. Worse, he rejected suggestions that the negotiated PLA be brought back to the Board, preferring to be done with the union handout with a single vote.
Cindy Nichol, the Sacrament County Department of Airports director, spoke favorably about the PLA to the Board of Supervisors. She said that when construction occurred for the new Terminal B, there had to be separate construction access entrances for union and union construction workers, which added $1 million a year to the construction costs. (Collective gasp!) She neglected to mention the County costs to negotiate and enforce a PLA and the 30% premium the county will pay because of reduced competition.
One of the more telling conversations occurred when Tom Enslow, a union mouthpiece, was asked, “What happens if the unions can't provide the workforce?” Tom, who is not the most practiced public speaker, replied, “We’ll just bring them from other areas of the state or nationwide,” belying the argument the PLA was about local hire.
If you live in Sacramento County and think Desmond was wrong to prostrate himself to the unions, or maybe believe there should be a level playing field for county construction – give him a call; I can't guarantee he will pick up. 916 768 3327

Legislature Approves UI Benefits for Striking Workers A coalition of employers, including WECA, opposed SB 799 (co-authored by Senator Anthony Portantino and Assembly Member Laura Friedman, who are, coincidentally running against each other for the House of Representatives seat being vacant by Adam Schiff – who is running for the US Senate), arguing that it will require employers to subsidize striking workers, even if those workers or labor strikes had nothing to do with the employer. The bill allows striking workers to claim unemployment and will add the cost of those benefits to California’s outstanding loans. If SB 799 had been in effect during the previous twelve months, it would have added approximately $215 million to the UI Fund’s debt. Additionally, it will add approximately $30 million per week if it were in effect now.” Furthermore, SB 799 will also add to the state’s general fund obligation regarding the UI Fund. For example, in 2023-2024, the interest payment is expected to cost the state approximately $300 million – and similar payments will continue until the UI Fund returns to solvency. None of these arguments persuaded the Legislature to reject this spending bill and sent it to Governor Newson, who recently threw cold water on the idea, though he didn’t outright say he would veto it. In an interview with POLITICO, he pointed to a growing deficit in the state unemployment insurance fund. That didn’t stop 27 Democrats in the Senate and 59 Democrats in the Assembly from sending the bill to Newsom. You can read our veto letter here.


Because Electricity Grows on Trees: Local Officials Tell Governor, California Must Ban Gas In New Buildings Twenty-six local government leaders in California — including those from the major cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose — are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to urgently pursue statewide standards requiring new buildings to be all-electric rather than burn fossil fuels on-site for uses such as cooking and space and water heating. Story

According to Politico, Carl DeMaio’s Reform California is looking to flex its muscle in a region (Sandy Ego) where it holds sway with many volunteers. The group announced a new push that targets Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, a Republican turned Democrat from the San Diego area. Reform California wants to direct Republicans and independents to vote for his opponent and help punish Democrats for their votes in Sacramento. Maienschein is eyeing the city attorney’s office, and California politicos are watching closely how groups like Reform play in Dem-on-Dem races. The ultimate place they might have influence is if Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter emerge to a Senate runoff — allowing right-leaning groups to try to play spoiler.

Sick Pay Obligations to Increase SB 616 will increase the three days of paid sick leave currently afforded to employees under existing law to five days; it increases the cap that employers can place on paid sick days from six to 10 days and 48 to 80 hours and increases the number of paid sick days an employee can roll over to the next year from three to five days. It extends procedural and anti-retaliation provisions in existing paid sick leave law to employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement exempted, if they meet specified criteria, from other paid sick leave law provisions. Alas, it was sent to Gov Newson on a party-line vote.

Contractors Will Be Required to Report Their Top Three WC Classification Codes (AB 336) The District Council of Iron Workers of California persuaded the State Legislature (come on, who doesn’t believe a union BA?) to require a contractor licensee, at the time of renewal, to certify on a license renewal form the three workers’ compensation classification codes for which the highest estimated payroll is reported. Supporters generally noted that this bill would help prevent fraud in the workers' compensation system, which was enough to pass the bill. The CSLB reported a one-time cost of approximately $227,500 for a limited-term IT consultant, which is not absorbable in the CSLB’s current resources. The IT changes needed include adding new classification codes to the CSLB’s enterprise licensing system, custom programming to allow online information entry, and updating data to post from CSLB’s system to the licensee’s public data portal. Your license dollars at work.

No More Than One Sub-Contractor from Each Trade Can Be Employed Unless They Employ Workers AB 1204 will prohibit a licensed contractor from subcontracting with two or more contractors in the same classification on the same job site unless the subcontractor has employees who perform the work in the relevant classification. Sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, this bill will prohibit any specialty contractor from using two or more subcontractors in the same license classification for work at the same job site unless the subcontractor has employees. I feel better already. It is waiting for Governor Newsom to return from his race for President.

Contractors Will Be Required to Keep Paper CPRs AB 587 will require any copy of records requested by, and made available for inspection by or furnished to, a Taft-Hartley trust fund or joint labor-management committee to be on forms provided by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or contain the same information as the forms provided by DLSE. Additionally, this bill clarifies that copies of electronic certified payroll records do not satisfy payroll records requests made by Taft-Hartley trust funds and joint labor-management committees. California-Nevada Conference of Operating Engineers, sponsor of the bill, states, "Outside of the traditional requirements contractors must abide by related to maintaining payroll records and allowing access to those records, existing law additionally provides a separate requirement that mandates contractors and subcontractors must also electronically submit Certified Payroll records (e-CPR) directly to the Labor Commissioner at least once every 30 days while work is being performed on the project, and within 30 days after the final day of work performed on a project. Further, SB 954 (Archuleta) [Chapter 824, Statutes of 2022], which was signed into law in 2022, required that the Department of Industrial Relations establish a database of these payroll records that are accessible to both Joint Labor Management Committee and Taft-Hartley Trust Funds. While the electronic submission of these records has streamlined and improved how Joint-Labor Management Committees and Taft-Hartley Trusts access payroll records, these entities will often notice inconsistencies on an e-CPR and still need to request the traditional records of a public works contractor to ensure the inaccuracy they have spotted isn't a violation of labor law. Recently, JLMC's and Taft-Hartley Trusts have noticed an issue whereby they see an error or omission on an e-CPR and make a request to the awarding agency to verify the record, only to be provided a copy of the e-CPR that they already have access to. This misunderstanding of law leads to compliance entities missing out on vital information they have historically been entitled to under existing law. In effort to remedy this issue, [this bill] would clarify that any copies of records made available to a Taft-Hartley Trust Fund or a federally approved Joint Labor-Management Committee be provided in the manner specified in Labor Code Section 1776 (c). The bill would provide further clarity by specifying that copies of electronic certified payroll records shall not satisfy a payroll records request made by either a multi-employer Taft-Hartley trust fund (29 United State Code Section 186(c)(5)) or a joint labor-management committee.” It’s all nonsense but that didn’t stop the California Legislature from approving.
Government Affairs and Merit Shop AdvocacyThursday, August 31, 2023
National Labor Relations Board Reverts to Shortened 2014 Representation Election Timeframe On August 24, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) issued a final rule (the “2023 final rule”) amending the federal regulations that govern representation election procedures. The 2023 final rule is the latest in a history of back and forth changes reducing or prolonging the timeframe from a petition for union representation to an election, and from an election to certification of the election results (hereinafter the “representation election process”). Effective December 26, 2023, the 2023 final rule will drastically shorten the representation election process by returning to the standard the Board adopted in 2014. The changes, include:
  • Pre-election hearings will be scheduled sooner and take place sooner;
  • Statements of Position will be due sooner, and Responsive Statements of Position will normally be oral;
  • Regional directors will have limited ability to extend the deadline for filing Statements of Position; and
  • Post-hearing briefing will be allowed only where the regional director or hearing officer determines they are necessary and not as a matter of right.
OSHA Wants to Revise its Worker Walkaround Representative Policy –Employers Should Be Concerned On August 29, 2023, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a proposed rule that would resurrect an Obama-era policy that allowed employees to designate third-party representatives to accompany OSHA inspectors on walkaround inspections of their employer’s workplace. OSHA says the proposed rule seeks to “aid OSHA’s workplace inspections by better-enabling employees to select a representative of their choice to accompany the Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) during a physical workplace inspection.” Specifically, OSHA proposes to revise 29 CFR 1903.8(c) to clarify that (1) a representative authorized by employees may be an employee of the employer or a non-employee third party, and (2) employees may authorize a third-party representative reasonably necessary to conduct an effective and thorough physical inspection of the workplace by virtue of their knowledge, skills, or experience. Story
California Is Adding Green Jobs. That Means More Labor Fights. The millions of dollars California is pumping into climate jobs are fueling long-simmering conflicts among the state’s powerful labor groups. Fights between environmental groups and labor unions multiply as the state adds green jobs. They’re threatening to slow California’s progress on climate change. “There is progress, but we’re not where we need to be,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), whose bill to connect new buildings to the electrical grid more quickly stalled in June after labor unions accused him of trying to circumvent collective bargaining by making it easier to hire non-union contractors. Clashes over whether wildfire workers should be paid more and whether solar panel installers should also be allowed to install batteries are pitting labor unions against wildfire prevention advocates and a segment of the renewable energy industry.

Union representatives say a bill in the state Legislature to increase pay for workers who trim roadside brush and create fuel breaks in wildfire-prone areas will help attract more applicants. “We all want more forest mitigation done,” said Tim Cremins, political director for the Western region of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which is sponsoring the bill. “We want it done with a more skilled and better-paid workforce." The bill, AB338, draws opposition from rural counties that want to move faster on wildfire treatments. The state is already behind in meeting its forest management goals, and rural advocates say that adding a prevailing wage requirement could reduce the number of acres treated annually by more than a third. “We’re talking about a fuel break that could save a whole community in the event of a high-severity wildfire,” said Staci Heaton, a policy advocate for the Rural County Representatives of California, which opposes the bill.
Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a version of the proposal last year, saying he was concerned the change would delay essential fire preparedness work. It’s not clear what he thinks of this year’s bill, which is largely unchanged. Complicating the proposal this year is the late opposition by the state’s main electrical workers’ union, which represents workers thinning vegetation along utility lines and has been tussling with other industries over jobs it sees as its own.

This debate is heading toward compromise. According to people close to the discussions, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Newsom, and the unions are nearing a deal on the forest worker pay raise. The deal would require higher wages without the extra paperwork associated with a traditional “public works” designation, delay implementation, and carve out some exemptions for projects led by nonprofits.
And the CSLB is likely to settle on rules that limit non-certified panel installers to working on batteries below a certain size — a compromise that regulators expect will preserve work for certified electricians and contractors as demand increases.

However, lawmakers couldn’t resolve the conflict with IBEW over SB 284, a bill to open utility work to the same labor standards as public works projects. It was intended to speed up the connection of new buildings to electrical lines. This process in California can take months or years, delaying housing projects and other critical developments. The bill would have prohibited utilities from requiring union contracts for projects over $10,000. IBEW called it an “anti-union right to work provision.” The bill was shelved for the year shortly after that. Wiener said he hopes to bring the bill back next year. He said the building trades unions have backed wind energy and some other renewable projects, but the state is “not where we need to be” to build at the required pace. “We should never use lack of existing workforce as an excuse not to save the planet,” he said. “The solution is to save the planet and ramp up the workforce.”
And a slightly different take, Green Jobs Are More in Demand Than Nurses — And They Pay a Premium The number of “green” job openings has eclipsed the demand for licensed practical nurses, according to a new study. That means there are about 410,000 openings for green workers in 2022, slightly more than demand for LPNs — a job type historically and consistently in high demand — during that same time, according to a new report by workforce demographics firm Lightcast. About 1.4 million workers are employed in green jobs across the country. “Green jobs are on the rise, and the upward trend isn’t likely to change in the coming years," said Lightcast Senior Economist Rachel Sederberg. "With sectors like the auto industry, tech and even durable-goods manufacturing making efforts to be more environmentally conscious, we’re going to need more workers with green skills." Story [Alternate link]
So, How’s that IRA Working for You? The Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli noted recently: “President Biden and every Democrat on the campaign trail will spend the next year bragging about the Inflation Reduction Act, which they universally tout as the ‘biggest climate action investment in history.’ You will hear Democrats boast that the IRA, signed a year ago, includes $8.8 billion in tax credits and rebates to encourage people to buy energy-saving devices such as heat pumps.” One problem is that no one has received the rebates one year later, and it's unclear when they will happen. Story
Unions Up the Ante in LA.  Coming soon to Los Angeles: A provocative city ballot measure that would require hotels to rent vacant rooms to homeless people! The ballot initiative will go before voters next March after the Los Angeles City Council voted to place it on the ballot instead of enacting the controversial ordinance. It aims at the hotel industry in several ways, requiring that if a new hotel project demolishes or converts existing housing, the developers must build affordable units on or near the new hotel site.

?However, the most controversial part of the measure pertains to hotel vacancies. Hotels would have to report empty rooms to the city’s housing department. The city would then use pre-paid vouchers to place homeless people in those available rooms. Hotels would receive a “fair market rate” from the city for the rooms and be barred from refusing to admit someone using a voucher. The ballot measure is sponsored by Unite Here Local 11, which is in a contract standoff with Los Angeles and Orange County hotels. The union collected more than 126,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, far more than required. Kurt Petersen, co-president of Local 11, said he was confident voters would support it in March. “When housing is on the ballot, it wins.” A new ad campaign, which is produced by the Center for Union Facts, went up this week.
California Voters To Decide 11th Parcel Tax Ballot Measure This Year, 961st Since 2008 Voters in Santa Lucia Community Services District, a special district in Monterey County, will decide on a parcel tax ballot measure—Measure T—on Aug. 29. The measure will be the 11th local parcel tax ballot measure California voters have decided this year, and the 961st they have decided since 2008. Measure T would enact an annual tax of $954.67 on developed and undeveloped estate residential parcels. Revenue from the parcel tax would provide funding for the district's fire and EMS services. Owners of the parcels would pay the tax. A two-thirds vote is required to approve Measure T.
House Republicans Already Vying for Approps Opening WECA/Utah’s representative Chris Stewart’s decision to retire on Sept. 15 has triggered behind-the-scenes jockeying among younger Republican colleagues who want to claim his coveted Appropriations Committee seat. Conversations among GOP lawmakers eyeing Stewart’s spot have played out quietly so far, largely out of respect for the well-liked Utahn — who announced he would step down due to his wife’s illness. But House GOP Steering Committee members — the leadership-driven group that decides most gavels and committee assignments — told us they have already gotten taps on the shoulder from interested Republicans. Two steering committee members — Reps. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) and Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) — said they’ve heard from first-term members hoping to get on the panel that boasts major sway over the federal spending process.
California Minimum Wage Increases Jan. 1 – What Employers Should Know The California Department of Finance recently notified the state's governor and legislative leaders that current economic conditions require an increase of the state's minimum wage from $15.50 per hour to $16 per hour for all employees on January 1, 2024. The change results from Labor Code section 1182.12, which requires the Director of Finance to determine on or before August 1 of each year whether adjustments to the minimum wage for inflation are to be made. Based upon recent federal data showing a consumer price index increase of 6.16 percent, the Department of Finance determined that a 3.5 percent increase to the minimum wage is required. As a result of the statewide minimum wage increase, employers must ensure that any California employees classified as exempt under the executive, professional, or administrative exemptions make at least $66,560 as of January 1, 2024. This is because the Labor Code defines the salary threshold for these employees as a multiple of the state minimum wage; when the minimum wage increases, so does the salary threshold amount. California employers should also be aware that a ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage to $18 per hour has qualified for a November 2024 vote (the Living Wage Act, Initiative 21-0043). Story
A Housing Loophole in Saratoga CalMatters recently reported on a State mandate to use Skilled and Trained Workforce. “One of the fiercest fights in California politics — one that divided union coalitions and led to the unceremonious death of many a housing bill— seems to have come to a quiet end in the San Jose suburbs. As CalMatters reported in May, of all the projects to break ground using of a closely-watched 2017 housing law meant to speed up the construction of apartment buildings, all but one were entirely set aside for lower-income residents – thus avoiding a strict hiring standard, backed by some of the state’s most powerful construction unions. The lone holdout — “the California housing policy equivalent of a unicorn” — was the Quito Village townhouse complex in the affluent Santa Clara County city of Saratoga. But there was a catch: PulteGroup, the project developer, wasn’t abiding by that higher standard. Why do we care? The union-backed “skilled and trained” workforce standard has been a sticking point for housing bills for years. When Sen. Wiener introduced a bill to renew the 2017 streamlining law this year, he removed that requirement for projects with market-rate units, arguing that it was too costly to produce new housing. The fact that even this one project didn’t comply with the rule seemed to support that argument. After CalMatters asked the City of Saratoga whether the Quito Village developer complied with the rule, officials asked PulteGroup. That’s where things stood when the CalMatters story ran. An update: In a lengthy letter dissecting the statute, a lawyer representing PulteGroup argued that state law does not require it to abide by the stricter standard. If true, the standard would only hold in 12 cities statewide. Anyway, the letter added, Wiener’s new bill is about to dispense with the old rules, so it’s a bit of a moot point. Crystal Bothelio, a spokesperson for Saratoga: After receiving that letter, “the City concurred.”
In a related story How Housing Activists and Unions Found Common Ground In California Over the last decade, whenever California lawmakers tried to pass new legislation aimed at boosting the state’s alarmingly low housing stock, they’d come face to face with a politically powerful barrier: organized labor. It wasn’t that unions wanted no new housing in California, but their top priority was ensuring that any new units would be built with unionized workers and that the nearly half a million members represented by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, or “the Trades,” as it’s locally known, would be well positioned to find good jobs in the future. Keenly aware of how sharply industry standards have declined in parts of the country with less union power and still reeling from job losses during the last recession, the Trades have assertively fought bills they deemed threatening to their way of life.
Another Arizona Senate Candidate Apparently undeterred by his loss to Sen. Mark Kelly last year, Blake Masters plans to jump into another Arizona Senate GOP primary, according to the WSJ’s Eliza Collins. His impending announcement could set up an intra-MAGA clash with Kari Lake, also widely expected to run. That would add even more chaotic dynamics to what could already be a three-way general election with independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego. Lake is still seen as the likely frontrunner in the primary over Masters, though.
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 focuses on the needs of electrical, low voltage, and solar contractors; apprentices, trainees, and journey workers in the Western United States. We are proud to represent thousands of electricians and technicians and hundreds of contractors. Our members believe 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 the public and private marketplace.

WECA’s governmental affairs staff works hard to protect the rights of merit shop business owners and their employees throughout the West. Still, our efforts can only succeed if those in the merit shop community are involved.

Concerns about climate change are rapidly changing the electrical marketplace with new state and Federal emphasis and funding for EV charging, battery energy storage systems, and rapid replacement of carbon-based fuels with electric alternatives. WECA monitors these areas and more to ensure that WECA members are ready to prosper in the growing arena.

Routine activities of the GA staff include:

· Monitoring all Federal and State Legislative and regulatory proposals for beneficial and detrimental changes

· Regular interaction with other business and construction groups in California, Arizona, Utah, 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 construction and business groups such as state and local chambers of commerce, NFIB, CBIA, California Business Roundtable, CFEC, ABC, AGC, and ASCA

· Routinely monitors more than 305 local agencies, including Cities, Counties, School Districts, and other special districts.

· Evaluates state-wide ballot measures and candidates and recommend 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 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


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WECA Political Advocacy