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Thursday, August 4, 2022   WECA Political Update August 4, 2022

Travel Season — Lawmakers and interest group representatives spent part of the July recess in Montreal and Maine to learn about recycling for the latest California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy voyage. Senators Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), Assemblymember Heath Flora (R-Ripon), and Treasurer Fiona Ma joined officials from waste management companies, Google, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the American Forest and Paper Association, and others. The trip comes after Allen shepherded a landmark plastics recycling bill to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk after multiple failed attempts in the Legislature, averting what looked likely to be an expensive campaign battle over a ballot initiative to overhaul plastic waste and impose a new tax on producers. Such trips have become a tradition for lawmakers and groups with business before Sacramento. CFEE, whose board is a cross-section of political players like unions, utilities, business organizations, and local government groups, covers the costs. The Chairman is former State Building and Construction Trades Council boss Bob Balgenorth, and their President/CEO is Jay Hansen, former building trades lobbyist. Wieckowski is leaving office on August 31 – so that trip will undoubtedly help immensely for his last month in the Senate!

Working in Colorado? They Enacted Wage Theft Amendments, Increasing Employer Penalties, and Permitting Class-wide Demands Colorado has modified the state’s wage theft laws with Senate Bill 22-161. Among other things, the wide-ranging amendments increase penalties for employers that do not timely pay wages, allow employees to demand wages on behalf of a class of similarly situated employees, permit the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Labor Standards and Statistics (“Division”) to investigate such demands on a class-wide basis, and severely limit employers’ ability to recover attorney’s fees for successfully defending a claim. The amendments also impose additional requirements on employers to deduct the value of unreturned company equipment from an employee’s final payment. While some provisions take effect on August 10, 2022, the most significant changes are effective on January 1, 2023. Colorado has again modified the state’s wage theft laws by enacting Senate Bill 22-161. Among other things, the wide-ranging amendments increase penalties for employers that do not timely pay wages, allow employees to demand wages on behalf of a class of similarly situated employees, permit the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Labor Standards and Statistics (“Division”) to investigate such demands on a class-wide basis, and severely limit employers’ ability to recover attorney’s fees for successfully defending a claim. The amendments also impose additional requirements on employers to deduct the value of unreturned company equipment from an employee’s final payment. While some provisions take effect on August 10, 2022, the most significant changes are effective on January 1, 2023. More

Does the new California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) apply to employers? Yes. More

Former President Donald Trump's sway among Arizona Republicans appears intact as his picks for Governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, Arizona Attorney General, and Secretary of State pull ahead. The most significant outstanding question mark from Tuesday’s primaries remains unanswered in the Arizona GOP gubernatorial race: Kari Lake (the Donald Trump-backed candidate) still leads Karrin Taylor Robson (the Mike Pence-backed pick) by two percentage points as of publishing time.
Lake led in every county but Maricopa.

Ruben Gallego's campaign teases Senate challenge to Kyrsten Sinema, raises money off idea Rep. Ruben Gallego is campaign fundraising off the prospect of his running against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona's 2024 Democratic primary. "Many people are asking Ruben if he will run against Senator Kyrsten Sinema," a promoted June 18 Facebook post says. "We know many of you hope he does, and he appreciates that fact. That’s one of the reasons he is asking you to contribute to his campaign today. Because if he is going to run against her, he’ll need to win his re-election campaign this November and build a strong grassroots movement." The Facebook ad says any contributions will go toward his House re-election effort this year. Story

The New York Times looked at the CHIPS+ bill and asked Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and NEC Director Brian Deese about it. “The legislation will hand significant power over the private sector to the Commerce Department (shudder), which will choose which companies qualify for the money. The department has already said it will prefer companies that invest in research, new facilities, and workforce training, rather than those that engage in the kind of share buybacks that have been prevalent in recent years.” However, the Times neglected to mention the requirements to pay local prevailing wages on construction projects receiving grants to aid semiconductor development. President Joe Biden said on July 26, "It was a top priority for me to ensure that incentives for semiconductors have a Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirement. And these semiconductor projects—there are billions of dollars and thousands of construction jobs in each of these sites." In addition, the bill contains $52 billion in subsidies and tax credits for any global chip manufacturer that chooses to set up new or expand existing operations in the United States, along with more than $200 billion toward scientific research in areas like artificial intelligence, robotics, and quantum computing. President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law on Aug. 9.

One of my favorite maxims is "no good deed goes unpunished." And now the distillers and brewers who helped stave off hand sanitizer shortages during COVID are now being targeted by the FDA with threats of recalls and fines over harmless ingredients. Distillers across the U.S. are beginning to face the wrath of the health agency after promises that their cooperation in producing hand sanitizer to keep businesses, government agencies, and families stocked up would be met with leniency. For one Central Coast distiller, who produced hand sanitizer for Federal agencies, the FDA is applying intense pressure to institute a recall (or face fines) over the presence of a specific ingredient found in higher quantities in food and wines. Story

Inside the donor network reshaping CA politics Govern for California’s 18 chapters have so far donated more than $3 million to candidates across California in the 2022 election cycle. One of the top beneficiaries is Assemblymember Robert Rivas, a Salinas Democrat. Govern For California is funded mainly by a small group of tech leaders, financiers, and other wealthy donors from the Bay Area. Their goal: counter the sway of special interests, especially labor unions, in the state Capitol. The organization is the brainchild of Stanford lecturer David Crane. One of its longtime political advisors is Rick Rivas, Robert’s brother. Story

Thursday, July 21, 2022   WECA Political Update July 21, 2022

NLRB Reaffirms Regional Directors’ Discretion to Dismiss Election Petitions Absent a Hearing On June 15, 2022, in Rieth-Riley Construction Co., Inc., 371 NLRB No. 109, the National Labor Relations Board reaffirmed that regional directors have the authority to dismiss representation and decertification petitions if the regional director determines there is merit to an unfair labor practice charge involving misconduct “that would irrevocably taint the petition and any related election.” This 3-2 decision illustrates a sharp division among Board members regarding the regional director’s discretion to administratively dismiss a timely filed decertification petition without first holding an evidentiary hearing on the impact of pending but unproven unfair labor practice allegations. More
November election news: In a sign that California could play a pivotal role in determining which party secures control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November, five of the six candidates added Monday to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program are running in California. The candidates include Kermit Jones (running against Kevin Kiley in CA-03), Adam Gray (running against John Duarte in CA-13), Christy Smith (running for a third time against Mike Garcia CA-27), Asif Mahmood (running against Young Kim in CA-40), and Will Rollins (running against Ken Calvert in CA-41). They’ll receive fundraising, organizing, and other support from the committee as it seeks to flip GOP-held seats. Californians now account for more than one-fifth of the 33 candidates in the Red to Blue program, according to the Los Angeles Times. Two other candidates, Jay Chen, (running against Michelle Steel in CA-45) and Rudy Salas (running against David Valadao in CA-22), were already on the list. A similar program run by the National Republican Congressional Committee called “Young Guns” supports five California House candidates.
Fresno Council President Charged with Felony Over Alleged Extortion In allegations made by fellow city councilman Garry Bredefeld — and corroborated publicly by City Attorney Sloan – Fresno City Council President Nelson Esparza allegedly told Sloan to work only for a majority of four councilmembers or face termination.
Fresno Supervisors Move $7B Measure C Renewal One Step Closer to Ballot A projected $7 billion transportation tax that could shape road building, mass transit, and maintenance for a generation is one step closer to the ballot. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on July 12 to advance a spending plan on the renewal of Measure C, the half-cent transportation sales tax on the books since 1986. The current version expires in 2027. Measure C leaders have been pushing for a November 2022 renewal to take advantage of project costs they say will only go up. Boosters also want to avoid a 2024 presidential ballot they predict will be “divisive.” Story
San Francisco Ranked the World's Most Expensive City for Construction The city overtakes Tokyo as inflation and supply chain snarls affect global markets. A new report by Turner & Townsend quantifies what contractors who work in San Francisco already know: Doing business there is expensive. The report, published this week, found that construction in San Francisco costs $4,728.50 per square meter ($439.29 per square foot) due to a perfect storm of inflation, supply chain issues, and demand from tech companies such as Google, Apple, and more. Last year’s top city, Tokyo, fell to the No. 2 spot on the list, followed by Osaka, Japan, which was included on the list for the first time.

In total, North America had four markets in the top 10. Aside from San Francisco, New York City ranked fourth, Boston ranked eighth, and Los Angeles ranked ninth, per the report. According to a press release, significant shifts in North American markets were driven primarily by the strengthening of the U.S. dollar, higher building material costs caused by supply chain disruptions, and high labor costs. A worldwide skilled labor shortage has bottlenecked development and forced contractors into delays and project disruptions. In this year’s survey, 79.6% of markets were experiencing skills shortages, and 15.9% were in balance. According to the release, only 4.5% of markets had a surplus in construction labor. The report comes as the U.S. construction industry battles wage and employment issues, with wages expected to beat projections even as hiring is slowing. More
Unions kill Amazon Hub in Newark, and Thousands of Jobs Love them or hate them, Amazon invests and creates jobs, but that didn’t stop a coalition of unions from helping to kill a planned airport cargo center in New Jersey, for which Amazon intended to hire 1,000 workers, and invest hundreds of millions of dollars over 20 years. The project, which hinged on a 20-year lease worth hundreds of millions of dollars, attracted opposition after the Port Authority disclosed it last summer. Story
Senate Retirement Tracker: Currently, six members (five Republicans and one Democrat) of the Senate have announced that they will not seek re-election in 2022. The Republicans are Pat Toomey (R-PA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Roy Blunt (R-MO). The Democratic member is Pat Leahy (D-VT). There will also be a special election to finish the term of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). That special election will coincide with the regular Senate election in Oklahoma, similar to the Georgia Senate elections from the 2020 cycle.
House Retirement Tracker: Currently, 51 House members (19 Republicans and 32 Democrats) have announced that they will not seek re-election to the House in 2022. The Republicans are Tom Reed (R-NY-23), Mo Brooks (R-AL-05), Jody Hice (R-GA-10), Kevin Brady (R-TX-08), Lee Zeldin (R-NY-01), Ted Budd (R-NC-13), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO-04), Billy Long (R-MO-07), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16), Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01), John Katko (R-NY-24), Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN-09), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK-02), Fred Keller (R-PA-12), Van Taylor (R-TX-03), Fred Upton (R-MI-04), Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07), and Chris Jacobs (R-NY-23). The Democratic members not running for re-election to the House are Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-02), Val Demings (D-FL-10), Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Conor Lamb (D-PA-17), Ron Kind (D-WI-03), Filemon Vela (D-TX-34), Karen Bass (D-CA-37), John Yarmuth (D-KY-03), David Price (D-NC-04), Anthony Brown (D-MD-04), Mike Boyle (D-PA-18), GK Butterfield (D-NC-01), Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), Tom Souzzi (D-NY-03), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30), Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04), Peter Welch (D-VT-AL), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL-07), Bobbie Rush (D-IL-01), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI-14), Albio Sires (D-NJ-08), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40), Jerry McNerney (D-CA-09), Jim Langevin (D-RI-02), Earl Perlmutter (D-CO-07), Jim Cooper (D-TN-05), Kathleen Rice (D-NY-04), Ted Deutch (D-FL-22), and Kai Kahele (D-HI-02).
California Employers Soon May Be Subject to a Workplace Violence Safety Standard On May 17, 2022, Cal/OSHA released a draft regulation for workplace violence prevention that applies to all California employers, with only limited exceptions. Cal/OSHA is seeking input from interested parties by July 18, 2022. Currently, Cal/OSHA’s workplace violence regulations only apply to employers in the health care industry. For non-health-care industries, Cal/OSHA regulates workplace violence using the employer’s obligation to regularly identify and evaluate workplace hazards under Section 3203 of Cal/OSHA’s Injury and Illness Prevention Standard. More
If Employers Test Union Certification and Lose, Will They Have to Pay? On June 24, 2022, the NLRB sought an order forcing an employer who refused to negotiate with a certified union to pay back wages and benefits to employees that they allegedly could have earned absent the delay in bargaining during the time the employer appealed the NLRB’s certification of the union as the exclusive bargaining representative in federal court. Story
Halfway through the primary calendar, the number of state legislative incumbents defeated in primaries is up 65% State legislative incumbents are losing to primary challengers at an increased rate this year compared to 2020. Across the 26 states that have held primaries, 132 incumbents — 27 Democrats and 105 Republicans — have lost. This represents a 65% increase from 2020 among these states at the same juncture in 2020. This increase has been driven by Republican losses, up 98% from 53 in 2020. For Democrats, the number defeated this year remains the same.

Here are five facts about state legislative incumbent primary losses:

·        In total, 5.0% of incumbents running for re-election this year have lost, up from defeat rates ranging from 2.4% to 3.4% since 2014.
·        Of the 26 states that have held primaries, 22 have had at least one state legislative incumbent lose in a primary.
·        The defeat rate is highest in Idaho, where 18 incumbents— all Republicans — lost to challengers. That represents 24% of all incumbents who filed for re-election.
·        Twenty-nine of the 132 incumbents defeated (22%) were guaranteed to lose because of redistricting (when states redraw legislative lines, incumbents can often end up in a new district with other incumbents leading to incumbent v. incumbent primaries or general elections). Twenty-three Republican incumbents lost in incumbent v. incumbent primaries, while six Democrats lost in incumbent v. incumbent primaries.
Arizona Business Groups Announce Opposition to Labor Union-Backed Debt Collection Initiative Two of the state’s leading business groups have announced their opposition to an initiative that would decimate Arizonans’ ability to secure credit and financing. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Greater Phoenix Chamber said they oppose what proponents have dubbed the “Predatory Debt Collection Protection Act.” Story
Hello From a New Citizens Initiative Voice of San Diego reported that former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer “is not just playing pundit on KUSI these days. He’s also making calls to gauge support for a new citizen initiative he wants to get on the ballot in November 2024. We are not entirely sure what the measure will be. Still, it would likely fall along the lines of one that voters in Sacramento will consider, which would make it illegal for unsheltered residents to camp on the street once there are enough city shelters and safe camping options.
UI Tax increases We mentioned last time that California mainly ignored the debt it incurred to pay the enhanced UI benefits during COVID. It turns out California is not alone. Connecticut, Illinois, and New York — all Democratic-led states with budget surpluses — have decided “not to fully repay the federal government for money borrowed to fund unemployment benefits,” according to the Wall Street Journal, “a move that will impose increased charges on businesses to help make up the difference.” What happens next: “If the debts aren’t fully repaid by Nov. 10, as officials in the four states envision, the federal government will start charging $21 per employee annually on all businesses in the states next year. In addition, state taxes on businesses to fund their unemployment programs will increase by varying amounts.” Story

Sinema’s vote critical as Senate Democrats attempt to pass slimmer Build Back Better The Biden White House and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer are negotiating with West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin to pass a slimmed-down version of the failed Build Back Better bill, a sweeping multi-trillion-dollar domestic policy and spending package that collapsed last December. Ariz. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will determine whether a revised bill gains traction. Story
Calling Mulder and Scully The House voted last week to create a secure government system to report UFOs and to compel current and former officials to reveal what they might know about the mysterious phenomena by promising to protect them from reprisal. It was a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act and passed without debate. I’ll post the link if you have something to report.
‘A very dangerous situation’ The most advanced category of mass-produced semiconductors — used in smartphones, military technology, and much more — is known as 5 nm. A single company in Taiwan, known as TSMC, makes about 90 percent of them. U.S. factories make none. The situation can potentially cause a national security crisis: If China were to invade Taiwan and cut off exports of semiconductors, the American military would be at risk of being overmatched by its main rival for global supremacy. One vocal opponent of the bill is the Chinese government. Its state media has criticized the idea as “bullying” and part of a “Cold War mentality.” No country’s share of semiconductor manufacturing has recently increased as rapidly as China’s. Story
Lawmakers Jet Around the World What exactly do state lawmakers do when they aren’t in Sacramento? A common activity is embarking on trips funded not by taxpayers but by special interests that lobby the Legislature — typically a combination of labor unions, corporations, and trade associations. For example, after finishing the legislative session last year, groups of lawmakers jetted off to Portugal and Maui on trips sponsored by various interest groups. Another delegation of lawmakers went to Iceland this spring. Story
Top Five Labor Law Developments for June 2022
·        The National Labor Relations Board modified its electronic notice posting requirements for workplaces impacted by COVID-19.
·        The NLRB issued its spring rulemaking agenda, which focuses on the joint-employer status and its Election Protection Rule.
·        The NLRB’s General Counsel (GC) issued a memorandum updating the make-whole remedies that regional offices can seek in settlement agreements, including the cost of baby formula.
·        The NLRB’s Buffalo regional office filed a petition in district court for a nationwide cease and desist order against Starbucks.
·        Workers at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Augusta, Maine, filed an NLRB election petition, trying to become the first unionized location for the restaurant chain.

Madame Ambassador: Republican business executive and former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman will be the Biden administration’s ambassador to Kenya after winning Senate approval. It’s a full-circle moment for Whitman, who lost an expensive contest — much of it her own money — to Democrat Jerry Brown back in 2010. Fast-forward to 2020: Brown had left office as the state’s longest-serving governor, and Whitman had aligned with Democrats by endorsing Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention. That support helped Whitman secure a nomination. She has ironically fared better than Los Angeles Mayor Democrat Eric Garcetti, a top Biden campaign surrogate. Garcetti's India ambassadorship nomination has stalled allegations that the mayor knew of a former prominent aide’s alleged sexual misconduct. Garcetti's parents hired a top lobbying firm to help him secure the nomination. The firm, McGuireWoods Consulting, registered to lobby on behalf of Sukey and Gil Garcetti for “Outreach Related to Confirmation for Ambassadorship Nomination.” [Politico]

Thursday, July 7, 2022   WECA Political Update July 7, 2022

A Troubling Trend for Public Works in California Until recently, the State Building and Construction Trades Council required authors of prevailing wage legislation to incorporate one or more of the following “boilerplate” provisions:

·        A mandate for a Skilled and Trained Workforce. But if a PLA is in place, the contractor is not required to report monthly of its compliance, and instead of the $10,000 per month penalties levied by DLSE, an arbitration alternative to solve the issue,
·        A waiver for contractors to keep and submit certified payroll records,
·        A prohibition of DLSE enforcement wage and hour violations on PLA projects,
·        A definition of “safe contractor” that includes all union contractors, regardless of their experience or safety record,
·        And a general requirement to pay prevailing wages, even on 100% private work.

However, in 2021, Assembly Member Burke – who authored AB 680 – started a trend when she renounced her elected position and abruptly quit her job on January 31, citing the “challenges of a post-COVID-19 landscape and wanting to spend more time with her family” and become a lobbyist. Burke announced via Twitter that she joined Axiom Advisors, “a full-service government affairs firm that provides strategic consulting to clients in Sacramento and throughout California, as a principal consultant.” Axiom is the brainchild of Jason Kinney. CalMatters noted after the 2018 election, referring to Kinney, “As the revolving door turns, a Capitol fixer is poised to ascend with Gavin Newsom—and legal weed.”

But back to the trend. AB 680 was the first bill to link State funds to a PLA. AB 680 established the California Jobs Plan Act of 2021, which requires the State Air Resources Board (CARB) to work with the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) to update, by July 1, 2025, the funding guidelines for administering agencies to ensure that all applicants to grant programs funded by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) meet fair and responsible employer standards and provide inclusive procurement policies. So, what did the State Legislature and Gavin Newsom define as “inclusive?” First, proponents shall provide evidence of a community workforce agreement for construction projects over one million dollars ($1,000,000) in funding. The bill defines a “community workforce agreement” as a project labor agreement that includes a targeted hire plan.

The passage of AB 680 and its enactment established that the Democratic leadership in California had zero concern about linking PLAs to state funding. As a result, in 2022, language similar to that in AB 680 is showing up in many bills:

·        AB 1161 (Garcia, Eduardo-D) Electricity: eligible renewable energy and zero-carbon resources: state agencies: procurement. Requires the Department of Water Resources to only purchase power from projects constructed using project labor agreements.
·        AB 2419 (Bryan-D) Environmental justice: federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: Justice40 Advisory Committee. For a construction project that will cost $5,000,000 or more, IIJA funds may be allocated only if the construction project will be performed under a PLA.
·        SB 22 (Glazer-D) Education finance: school facilities: Public Preschool, K–12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2022. It requires the Department of General Services to prioritize projects for funding, including using a project labor agreement (PLA).
·        SB 162 Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review establishes the Community Economic Resilience Fund Program, administered by the Workforce Services Branch at the Employment Development Department. The program shall be overseen by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, Office of Planning and Research, and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development referred to as the Inter-Agency Leadership Team. Projects funded by CERF must “support labor standards where applicable, such as prevailing wage, project labor agreements, or community workforce agreements.”
·        SB 1020 (Laird-D) Clean Energy, Jobs, and Affordability Act of 2022. This bill establishes interim targets to reach SB 100 clean energy goals and requires state agencies to purchase 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2030 to serve their load. Requires new procurement commitments made on behalf of a state agency to be constructed with contractors using multi-craft project labor agreements. Requires new procurements made for the State Water Project after February 1, 2022, to use multi-craft project labor agreements for construction.
·        SB 1105 (Hueso-D) San Diego Regional Equitable and Environmentally Friendly Affordable Housing Agency. Creates the San Diego Regional Equitable and Environmentally Friendly Affordable Housing Finance Agency and grants it the authority to impose taxes and fees. The bill would also require the agency to execute a PLA with the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and the San Diego Housing Federation before placing a measure on the ballot to raise revenue for the agency.

From one bill in 2021 to six in 2022 is a troubling trend!
Why Does IBEW Hate Rooftop Solar? Our brothers and sisters at the IBEW are trying their best to put proverbial nails into the coffin of rooftop solar. Why and how?

First is their long-term effort to prohibit C-46 solar contractors from installing anything bigger than the rough equivalent of a “D cell” battery in any rooftop PV they install. They want all C-46 to become C-10 and hire only certified electricians. While many of you C-10s will agree this idea makes sense, it is another example of how the IBEW controls the industry – and how the government is a willing contributor. CSLB recently decided to open the regulatory process to cap the size of BESS a C-46 can install.

Second, for years IBEW has led an effort to revise the tariff for net-energy metering (NEM), which would drastically cut the payments rooftop solar owners receive from utilities for the energy they feed back into the system.

Third, and perhaps best is AB 2143 (Carrillo), which will require that prevailing wage be paid on renewable energy installation projects with a generating capacity of more than 15 kilowatts (kWs) and which receive service under an electric utility’s NEM tariff. The bill's sponsors, the California State Association of Electrical Workers and the Coalition of California Utility Employees, explained in their support letter that “AB 2143 addresses two critical issues surrounding the rooftop solar. First, it addresses the exclusion of lower-income communities from participating in rooftop solar.” (So, assuming a PW requirement raises the cost of rooftop solar, higher costs improve things for “lower-income communities”!) Second, “AB 2143 would require the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to submit an annual report to the Legislature documenting the progress of rooftop solar deployment by zip code and census track to fix rooftop solar inequities in communities facing the largest cost shifts.” Ah, that explains it!

Now, the why. IBEW represents both the employee electricians of signatory C-10 contractors AND utility employees! The union C-10s will, arguably, already be paying PW as part of the CBA, so it won’t make them any less competitive (and perhaps more competitive if every installer is now paying PW) and, more importantly, if this makes rooftop PV unaffordable, utilities will be left as the only supplier of solar power – a double win for IBEW.

Concerns about the impact on clean energy didn’t stop Democrats Dave Cortese, Maria Elena Durazo, and Josh Newman from passing the bill out of committee but Democrat (and frequent target of construction union animosity Scott Wiener) joined the only Republican on the Labor Committee, Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, in voting no. After that, the bill goes to the Appropriations Committee, then to the floor in August.
U.I. Loan California will pay down a fraction of its U.I. debt - only $1 billion over two years – toward the $17.8-billion federal loan that the state used to fill a hole left by a surge in unemployment claims during the worst of the pandemic. This is despite an almost $100 billion windfall budget surplus in 2021-22! “Why so little when the State could have paid all the debt it incurred with the budget surplus?”, you ask. A power play of public employee unions. They want to blow open the Jarvis-Gann Limit (Prop 13) and expect influential (and wealthy) groups, the realtors, the apartment owners, and other business groups to oppose it. Unions will bargain with these groups to remove or soften their opposition, or the unions will prohibit (through their control of Democrats) the State from repaying the loan, which will trigger massive increases in U.I. premiums on California employers. These premium jumps are required when a state borrows money but chooses not to repay it.
City of Phoenix forgoes more water from Lake Mead due to declining levels. The city of Phoenix said Friday that it would forfeit delivery of an additional 14,000 acre-feet, or 4.5 billion gallons, of Colorado River water to shore up Lake Mead. Story
Fresno lawmakers back off hefty pay raises: This proposal would reorient how Fresno's City Council is paid, tying their salaries to the hefty compensation offered to Fresno County Superior Court judges and Fresno County Supervisors isn't going to happen. Instead, lawmakers agreed to a more modest, scaled pay bump over the next three years to bring their pay closer to the city councils of the state's largest cities. The pay proposal, introduced amid Fresno's oft-contentious budget process, overshadowed record-spending for the fiscal year 2022-2023.
How many U.S. House incumbents lost re-election on June 28?

Election season is in full swing, and three U.S. House primaries incumbents — one Democrat and two Republicans — lost. Research suggests that the total number of incumbents defeated so far in 2022 is above the average decade. How many U.S. House incumbents lost in primaries, on average, between 2012 and 2020? 7? 14? 9? 4? I'll discuss the answer in a future bulletin.

And if things were not bad enough, Scientists predict a ketchup shortage by 2050. Scientists have a new concern about climate change... running out of ketchup. Story

Fifth Circuit Rules that COVID-19 Pandemic Did Not Trigger the “Natural Disaster” Exception to WARN Notice Requirements In the first such decision from a federal appellate court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled the COVID-19 pandemic is not a “natural disaster” that exempts employers from providing advance notice of mass layoffs and plant closures under the WARN Act. The court also opined that the natural-disaster exception requires proof of proximate causation, not but-for causation. Story

Unions protest $600M De Niro NYC Studio Project New York City union chapters took a united stance against Robert De Niro’s $600 million movie studio project on the Astoria waterfront that has broken ground and will primarily use non-union labor. The unions — including Sheet Metal Workers Local 28, Steamfitters Local 638, and Laborers’ Local 79 — protested the project on June 17, criticizing the actor for making outspoken pro-union comments publicly, but choosing to use non-union labor to build his Wildflower Studios building. Story

Transportation, Labor, Business, Environmental Groups Object to Biden Gas Tax Holiday Proposal; But At-Risk Democratic Members of Congress Applaud. Biden’s “gimmick” (Mitch McConnell’s words, not mine) has already received pushback from both sides of the aisle and prominent non-governmental organizations. In a letter sent to the White House, the Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition and the Transportation Construction Coalition expressed their opposition as well. “Suspending the gas tax will not provide meaningful relief for consumers — it will instead subsidize the largest and most profitable industry on the planet,” the National Association of City Transportation Officials said in an emailed statement. Okay, I don’t have any photo of at-risk Democrats (or anyone, for that matter) applauding. Story

House Appropriations Subcommittee Advances Labor Spending Bill The House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee approved a bill funding the Labor Department for fiscal year 2023. Some of the labor policy provisions include a prohibition on the privatization of job search functions offered through the employment service system and a block on Trump-era apprenticeship programs overseen by the private sector. In addition, the measure would appropriate $319 million to the National Labor Relations Board — including $1 million to create a system for the agency to hold union elections electronically, a years-long push by Democrats. It would also spend $3.2 billion on unemployment insurance, which matches the White House’s request of $334 million more than fiscal year 2022. That does not include additional contingency funding to states if benefit claims spike. Lawmakers advanced the legislation by voice vote. But Republicans made clear they did not support the measure, which subcommittee ranking member Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said contained “poison-pill policy riders” that move the U.S. “toward a leftist agenda that is out of step with the American people.” Packaged alongside spending for the Education and Health and Human Services departments, the legislation proposes $15 billion in discretionary funds for DOL — a boost of $1.9 billion above what it had in fiscal year 2022 and $125 million more than President Joe Biden requested. That’s enough for sizable increases for the Employment and Training Administration ($1.3 billion more than fiscal year 2022) and OSHA ($100 million more than fiscal year 2022), among other agencies.

November Ballot

The Secretary of State's Office certified five initiatives for the November ballot recently, in addition to SCA 10, the Legislature's abortion constitutional amendment, which will appear on the ballot as Proposition 1 (specified by the passage of the SB 131 budget trailer bill), and the flavored tobacco referendum. Californians will not vote in November on raising the state's minimum wage to $18 an hour after a proposed ballot initiative fell just short of the ballot. Counties did not finish certifying that the measure had enough signatures before a June 30 deadline. The miss removes a high-profile — and likely expensive – fight from the ballot chessboard.

Legislative Calendar:

·        July 1 Summer Recess begins upon adjournment, provided Budget Bill has been passed
·        July 4 Independence Day / State holiday
·        Aug. 1 Legislature reconvenes from Summer Recess
·        Aug. 12 Last Day for fiscal committees to meet and report bills to the Floor
·        Aug. 15 - 31 Floor Session only. No committees, other than conference and Rules, may meet for any purpose
·        Aug. 25 Last Day to amend bills on the Floor
·        Aug. 31 Last Day for each house to pass bills
·        Final Recess begins at end of this day's session

And finally, a note from our friend and frequent collaborator, Eric Christen at CFEC.

Much is happening on the CEQA reform front:

ICON Lawsuit Against Union Extortion Notches Another Victory! In April, the ICON Company in Los Angeles had an appeals court unanimously reverse a lower court's decision on their project. Labor unions had used greenmail on the project to force ICON into “agreeing” to a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). This was great news as ICON was now back to being fully entitled. BUT, then the unions filed a petition for review with the State Supreme Court. Ten amicus briefs were filed on the unions’ behalf requesting the review, including one from California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta! Well, the Supreme Court just denied their petition for review, which means that the published opinion is now and forever citable. ICON’s entitlements have been fully reinstated, and they should have smooth sailing in federal court with their antitrust case. Great news!

San Francisco Chronicle Opinion Piece Regarding Union CEQA Abuse: If you have not had a chance to read this op-ed by Robert Selna that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday regarding CEQA abuse by big labor special interests, here it is: Union CEQA Abuse Must Stop. Mr. Selna does an excellent job highlighting what we have been discussing and how reform is needed – now.
California Court Decries CEQA Abuse: In its stunning opinion delivered on May 12 in Tiburon Open Space Committee v. County of Marin, the First District of the California Court of Appeal upheld Marin County's approval of a 43-unit residential project following decades of "not in my backyard" (NIMBY) obstruction, governmental recalcitrance, and multiple court challenges. In so holding, the Court zealously denounced "official hostility" from "two levels of local government" and NIMBY litigation tactics aimed at preventing the construction of much-needed housing during a statewide housing crisis. The ultimate impact of the Tiburon Open Space Committee remains to be seen, but it has the potential to cast a long shadow. As acknowledged by the Court, "CEQA lawsuit abuse is worsening California's housing crisis. … Something is very wrong with this picture." Hopefully, the Court's forceful affirmation that CEQA is subordinate to state laws limiting the discretionary authority of local agencies to deny or pare the density of compliant housing projects will reduce opportunities to leverage CEQA as an "instrument for the oppression and delay" that has "become its own reward for project opponents." After all, as this important case makes clear, "CEQA is not meant to cause paralysis." Read the story here
Next Steps:
If your company is interested in CEQA reform and you want to join the next Zoom meeting, contact Eric Christen, Executive Director, Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.

Thursday, June 23, 2022   WECA Political Update June 23, 2022

US Supreme Court Overrules Key Holding of Iskanian Regarding Arbitrability of PAGA Claims

Key Points
  • On June 15, 2022, in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts a California state law rule holding that PAGA claims cannot be compelled to individual arbitration. Instead, PAGA permits private plaintiffs to sue their employers on behalf of the state of California and collect civil penalties for Labor Code violations committed against themselves and other aggrieved employees.
  • Explaining that PAGA allows aggregation of the named plaintiff’s claims and the claims of other employees, Viking River Cruises distinguished between the “individual” and “non-individual” claims brought in a PAGA action. Accordingly, it held that the “individual” claim might be compelled to arbitration but left in place the state law rule against forced arbitration of the “non-individual” claims.
  • The Court also held that under its reading of state law, the “non-individual” claims could not proceed in Court if the individual claims have been compelled to arbitration. Concurring opinions regarding the majority’s application of state law and the potential for legislative responses suggest that litigation over arbitration issues in PAGA cases may continue.
You can read the opinion here: 20-1573 Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (06/15/2022)

And because the left-hand doesn’t know what the right decided…
CA Appellate Court Rejects Uber’s Arbitration Agreement for PAGA Claims
 A California appellate court has upheld the decision of a trial court to deny Uber’s petition to compel arbitration in a case involving the worker misclassification of a former Uber Eats driver. According to the Court, an agreement that the driver signed waiving the right to bring a claim under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) is unenforceable since such claims belong to the state, not the individual. Story

Newly elected Assembly Member Isaac Bryan is the author of AB 2419 to invest 40 percent of IIJA funding to low-income, Indigenous, and rural communities and communities of color, and union construction unions, who, despite their prevailing wages, are, obviously, part of the disadvantaged and low-income communities by requiring that to receive IIJA funds, any project costing more than five million dollars must be carried out under a project labor agreement that includes provisions to encourage apprenticeship training and the hiring of disadvantaged workers. WECA was the lone opponent when it was approved in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, chaired by Senator Stern (a co-author), who replied to WECA’s opposition by incorrectly saying (some might call it “fake news”), “The building trades only want prevailing wages and not a PLA."

SB 1020 Clean Energy, Jobs, and Affordability Act of 2022 State Senator John Laird is the author of a bill to establish interim targets for the statewide 100 percent clean energy policy and requires state agencies to accelerate their 100 percent clean energy goal by 15 years. It also establishes a California Affordable Decarbonization Authority as a nonprofit public benefit organization as a mechanism to help fund various electric utility-related programs and activities. It requires each state agency, except the State Water Resources Development System (State Water Project), to ensure that zero-carbon resources and eligible renewable energy resources supply 100 percent of electricity procured on its behalf by December 31, 2030, by either: installing zero-carbon resources or eligible renewable energy resources on state-owned or state-leased buildings to serve the state agency’s onsite load; or procuring zero-carbon resources or eligible renewable energy resources through the local publicly owned electric utility (POU) or load-serving entity (LSE) providing retail service to the state agency. But, but, but. Because the State Building and Construction Trades Council controls votes, it requires new procurement commitments made on behalf of a state agency by its LSE or POU after June 1, 2022, to be constructed with contractors using multicraft project labor agreements. The bill passed its muster in the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy chaired by Eduardo Garcia (who is very close with the trades). It passed party line with Chad Mayes (I) joining his demo colleagues. WECA was the lone opponent to the mandatory PLA language.

Because the war in Ukraine isn’t F’d up enough, now the lobbyists are involved (and not in the war zone) SCM Consulting Limited, an affiliate of the company that owns the steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, that became the site of a standoff between Russian and Ukrainian militaries in a battle for control of the strategic port city, has hired Qorvis on a $60,000-per-month contract (!) to provide public relations services, according to documents filed recently with the DOJ. Qorvis will highlight the “operations and humanitarian efforts” of the steel plant’s parent company, System Capital Management, which reportedly employs more than 200,000 people, and its owner, Rinat Akhmetov. Akhmetov, who the filings say has “held an important role in political parties in Ukraine,” is the country’s richest man. He told Ukrainian media that he planned to sue Russia for as much as $20 billion in damages to his steel plants. Qorvis will work to win the company-earned media coverage and “assist with securing media interviews and proactive media engagement regarding events and projects as requested by the client,” according to the filings. SCM’s Azovstal steel plant was one of Ukraine’s last holdouts in Mariupol, with hundreds of Ukrainian fighters who had been “holed up in the facility for weeks under an intense Russian assault” finally evacuating the plant earlier this month, The Washington Post reported, calling the showdown “a desperate symbol of Ukrainians’ will to fight and die for their land, a key factor in Ukraine’s military successes against Russia’s larger, more powerful army.”

Hardball Diplomacy (The best kind). People close to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti reportedly privately pressured Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly to support Garcetti’s ambassadorial nomination, according to a story in POLITICO. As part of the push, they left the strong impression that the Arizona Democrat could be cut off from donor networks should he refuse to back the beleaguered nominee to be U.S. ambassador to India. The outreach infuriated Kelly, who vented to associates that he felt like he was being strong-armed over his refusal to relent on Garcetti’s nomination, two of the people with direct knowledge said. Kelly, up for reelection this year, is a top Senate fundraiser and frequently draws from Southern California as part of his campaign’s national reach. One person familiar with the advocacy said they were surprised that allies in Garcetti’s orbit believed Kelly, a retired astronaut (and fighter pilot) who prides himself on his independent streak, could be swayed by appeals from significant donors and luminaries. The person added that they believed the appeals were part of a coordinated campaign involving several Garcetti supporters. “These kinds of tactics backfire,” a second person familiar with the effort told POLITICO. “It’s hard to believe Garcetti didn’t have knowledge or didn’t push for these donors to call.”

IRS Raises Standard Mileage Rate for July to December 2022 On June 9, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service issued Announcement 2022-13, increasing the optional standard mileage rate for the final six months of 2022 from 58.5 cents per mile to 62.5 cents per mile. The new rate will be effective for travel from July 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022. The old rate of 58.5 cents per mile will remain effective through June 30, 2022. Learn more

Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry inks agreement with Israeli counterpart Arizona’s business advocacy organization signed a deal with Israel’s leading business group to collaborate on areas of shared interest. The signing between the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce was part of an Arizona delegation to Israel last week led by Gov. Doug Ducey. Story

Inflation costs you… according to NBC’s Charlie Herman, an American household now has to pay an additional $460 monthly to buy the same things they did a year ago. So how many families have an extra McKinley lying around? (Yes, there is (was) a $500 bill).

November State Ballot Four ballot measures have already qualified, with another six awaiting confirmation they’ve secured enough signatures by the June 30 deadline. But a few high-profile issues have recently cropped up in the Legislature and could show up in November, along with a deal that could remove one proposition — if they clear both houses by the end of the month.

Abortion: Legislative leaders had said they were considering enshrining the right to an abortion before POLITICO published the early draft majority opinion by the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade. (Yeah, right). But the revelation put that action into high gear, prompting Sen. Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) to introduce SCA 10, which would protect the right to abortion as well as contraception. An easy path to the ballot is anticipated, considering the Democratic supermajority in the Legislature and how swiftly SCA 10 cleared three Senate committees last week. On Monday, the bill cleared the Senate and now moves on to the Assembly.

Involuntary servitude: Another proposed state constitutional amendment is in play: ACA3, introduced last year by Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), would ban involuntary servitude in California. The bill cleared the Assembly months ago and proposed an amendment to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude “except to punish crime.” Depending on how that is defined, it could increase pay for inmate labor. It now faces a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Kamlager is on the fast track to higher office. In 2010 Kamlager worked on the campaign to elect Holly Mitchell to the California State Assembly, becoming District Director after Mitchell's victory. In 2015 she won a seat on the Los Angeles Community College Board. After Sebastian Ridley-Thomas announced his resignation from the State Assembly on December 27, 2017, Kamlager entered the race to serve the remainder of his term. She won the April 3, 2018, special election to represent California's 54th State Assembly district. Then on November 10, 2020, Kamlager announced that she would be a candidate for the California State Senate to succeed her former boss Holly Mitchell, who was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. On March 2, 2021, Kamlager was elected to the California State Senate with a 67.67 percent vote. Then, she became a candidate to replace Karen Bass, following her mayoral bid, for California's 37th congressional district. Whew, four races in seven years.

Plastics: Voters are slated to decide on a November plastics proposition that would ban Styrofoam, place a fee on single-use plastics, and start the clock on making these products compostable and recyclable by 2030. But that measure could be replaced by a deal in the form of SB54 by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), which legislative leaders and environmental groups say doesn’t go far enough. Atkins, Rendon, and other opponents have described the timeline to negotiate the bill and get it passed and signed by the governor by June 30 as “impossibly short."

Dan Walters covered a couple of other measures we’ll see (maybe) in November:

With the scarcity of drama in statewide office campaigns, the November election’s major focus will be on ballot measures, topped by a high-dollar duel over who, if anyone, will control gambling on sports events.

Tribes that now dominate casino gambling in the state are divided over whether to pursue a tribal measure to limit sports wagering to their casinos, which has already qualified for the ballot or concentrate resources on defeating a rival measure proposed by a coalition of online gambling companies.

Tribes committed to an opposition strategy are already broadcasting and streaming ads aimed at the online betting measure, alleging that it will cause gambling addiction. The opposition coalition plans to place its online measure on the 2024 ballot if it can defeat the corporate proposal.

However, sports wagering is not the only issue facing voters. Others likely to make the ballot include two measures that would raise income taxes on high-income Californians, one for pandemic preparedness, and the other to subsidize electric vehicle purchases.

Lyft, a major rideshare corporation, primarily sponsors the latter. It has been criticized as a corporate effort to make taxpayers underwrite a state requirement that Lyft and other companies, such as Uber, electrify their fleets.

Other pending initiatives would guarantee state funding for arts and music in the schools, reduce single-use plastic packaging and impose new staffing requirements on dialysis clinics. Previous union-backed dialysis measures have failed.

A measure to raise the state’s minimum wage to $18 per hour, sponsored by wealthy Los Angeles investor Joe Sanberg, might make the ballot, but only if it meets the signature requirements by the June 30 deadline.

Finally, a referendum would overturn a state ban on flavored tobacco products— the latest example of corporate interests turning to the ballot to escape new regulations imposed by the Legislature.

The initiative and referendum processes were brought to California more than a century ago as a way for voters to assert their will over a Legislature then dominated by corporate interests. However, they have largely evolved — or devolved — into ways for corporate and other special interests to have their way, as this year’s crop of ballot measures proves anew.

Thursday, June 9, 2022   WECA Political Update, 6-9-22: Special Election Edition of Preliminary Results

Special Election Edition of Preliminary Results

We’ll focus this edition exclusively on this week’s preliminary election results. I didn’t cover all 152 district races – but more interesting ones.

State election results are updated as often as county elections offices submit new data. Ballots continue to be counted after election day during the canvass period; county elections officials must report the final official results to the Secretary of State by July 8, 2022. The Secretary of State will certify the results on July 15, 2022.

As of Wednesday morning, 3.5 million votes have been counted, which equates to a turnout of 16%. With the caveat that there are still many more votes to count, it seems safe to say that turnout in yesterday's primary will not be a shining example of citizen civic engagement. Several explanations are circulating, including a lack of statewide ballot measures.

The June top-two primary is when California voters choose their two favorites for governor and other constitutional offices. Ditto for each of the 80 Assembly districts, 20 state Senate races, and 52 congressional districts where 160, 40, and 104 candidates will emerge after all the ballots are counted.

In some races, this is the election that counts. There will be overwhelmingly blue or decisively red districts where only one member of the dominant party will secure one of the two spots for November, ensuring their victory. But in others, the contests will create Democrat versus Democrat battles or, to a lesser extent, Republican versus Republican fights.

Governor Gov. Gavin Newsom is poised for reelection after crushing a crowded field of scarcely known challengers in California’s statewide primary. He will face off against Northern California Republican State Senator Brian Dahle.

Newsom’s dominance comes nine months after he prevailed in a recall attempt. The one-two punch showed just how formidable he remains in California politics even after a first term in which he was tested by the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic, six of the largest wildfires in state history, and an ever-worsening homelessness crisis. Moreover, many believe he will be poised to engage in a presidential run in 2024 if the Biden/Harris administration continues to suffer from low approval ratings.

U.S. Senate Two primaries for United States Senate were on the California ballot on Tuesday. Sen. Alex Padilla and Republican attorney Mark Meuser both won and advanced to the November elections. Padilla, a Democrat, had to run in both a special and general election to keep the seat through January 2029. The special election is for the last two months of the current term; the general election is for a full, six-year term that starts in January 2023.

Attorney General Incumbent Rob Bonta will beat Nathan Hochman or Eric Early in November. As the Sacramento Bee’s Editorial Board explains: “It didn’t matter that [NPP Anne-Marie] Schubert had more relevant experience and greater credibility than her Republican opponents to serve as California’s attorney general. Her support from law enforcement leaders, unions, and crime victims wasn’t enough. Her office’s prosecution of the Golden State Killer case, her lawsuit against the state over the early release of inmates, her leadership on the unemployment fraud task force — the first wave of primary results made it clear that not identifying as a Republican was an obstacle she struggled to overcome.”

Controller “Lanhee Chen is either the great Republican hope to win statewide in California, or he's 'fool's gold,'” said Joe Garofoli of the San Francisco Chronicle: “State controller candidate Lanhee Chen is giving Republicans hope that he can do something the GOP hasn’t done since 2006: win statewide office in California.” He will face Malia M. Cohen, one of four Democrats in this race.

Treasurer Numerous allegations of sexual and financial impropriety didn’t keep voters from overwhelmingly picking Fiona Ma for a second term. The race for second is close.

Insurance Commissioner Accepting campaign contributions from the insurance industry he regulates didn’t seem to bother voters who gave incumbent Ricardo Lara 37% of the vote in a crowded race. Despite numerous endorsements by newspapers statewide (you remember those, right?) Democrat Marc Levine is ending up out of the mix; Lara will beat whichever Republican finishes second.

Northern California

Sacramento Supervisor The race to replace left-moderate Don Nottoli pitted two former Elk Grove Councilmen against a labor-backed local district board member. While votes are still being counted, it looks like right center Pat Hume will face far-left, PLA-loving Jacklyn Moreno in November. Hume - 8, 388, 41.9%; Moreno - 6,095, 30.8%; Steve Ly - 3,808; 19.2% and Alex Joe - 1,562, 9.9%. The big question is, where will Ly and Joe's voters go in November?

Contra Costa County BART Board member and former ABC Northern California chair Deborah Allen is in second place, but only by 389 votes, a very tight margin that could change in the coming days.

AD 10 (Open, D-Cooper) - Democrat Stephanie Nguyen, an Elk Grove city councilmember, is comfortably ahead in the top spot, with Sacramento city councilmember Eric Guerra running 50 votes ahead of Republican Eric Rigard. Supporters of Guerra had spent money boosting Rigard to block Nguyen from the top two, although that move may very well backfire once all the votes are in.

AD 27 (Open, D-Gray) - Democrat Esmeralda Soria, a Fresno city councilmember, and Republican Mark Pazin, the former Merced County Sheriff, will advance to a November runoff. Democratic candidates combine for 51.6% of the vote, portending a potentially competitive race in November.

AD 30 (Open, R-Cunningham) - Democrat Dawn Addis, a Morro Bay city councilmember who received independent expenditure support from the California Farm Bureau, charter school advocates, and the correctional officer’s union, advances to a runoff with perennial, Republican Vicki Nohrden. Addis is not expected to face a competitive challenge.

CD 03 (NEW, Placer/Sacramento) - Democrat Kermit Jones leads with 39.4%, with Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley in second with 36.5%. The Republican candidates are currently leading the Democratic candidates 53.5% to 46.5% in a race where Republicans are favored in November.

CD 09 (D-Harder) - Incumbent Josh Harder leads with 36.5%, and Republican San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti is in second with 28.9%. The Republican candidates are at 49.54%, and the Democrats are at 49.49%.

CD 13 (NEW, Central Valley) - Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray appears poised to advance to a runoff with farmer/businessman Republican John Duarte. Gray leads with 33.2% to Duarte's 30.8%. The Democratic candidates are at a combined 52.2% to the GOP candidates' 47.8% in a Biden 11% district that is certain to be a top target in November.

CD 21 (D-Costa) - Incumbent Democrat Jim Costa easily beat back a challenge from progressive Democrat Eric Garcia, receiving 50.5% of the vote and advancing to November with Republican Micahel Maher, who received 23.7%.

Old CD 22 (R-Nunes) Connie Conway, a former GOP state assemblymember, won the special election for the U.S. House of Representatives seat vacated by Devin Nunes. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, once she’s sworn into office, a record 146 women will be serving in Congress, making up a little more than 27% of the body. But she’ll only have about six months in office: in 2023, Nunes’ seat will cease to exist in its current form due to redistricting.

CD 22 (R-Valadao) - Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas leads incumbent Republican David Valadao 47.1% to 25.7% in the current returns, with two pro-Trump Republicans splitting the rest of the GOP vote. Fewer than 20,000 votes have been counted at this stage, though the GOP candidates are still combining for 52.9% in this Biden 13% district. Valadao's primary campaign faced a last-minute dose of chaos when Super PACs aligned with Speaker Nancy Pelosi pumped six-figure sums to promote former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys as a preferable option for GOP voters, despite being perceived as a weaker candidate against Salas in the fall.

SD 04 (Open, R-Borgeas) – In yet another example of a Republican circular firing squad, two weak Democratic candidates evenly divided the minority of the vote while the six Republicans battled it out for the other 56% of the vote – thus locking themselves out of the November ballot – that a Republican should have won! Labor leader Tim Robertson leads with 23.4%, Democrat Marie Alvarado-Gil, whose campaign spent nothing, is taking 20.1%, and Republicans George Radanovich, Steven Bailey, and Jeff McKay are evenly splitting the vote for third, receiving 17%, 14.93%, and 14.89%, respectively. One more lost Republican seat – great move, guys!

SD 06 (Open, R-Nielsen) - Former GOP Assemblyman Roger Niello took the number two spot over Republican physician Michael Huang. Paula Villescaz, the only Democrat on the ballot, received 46%. The race is expected to be competitive, albeit Republican-leaning.

SD 08 (Open, D-Pan) - Democrat Dave Jones leads Angelique Ashby 45.8%/42.1%. Both will advance to November when the torrent of I.E. spending that defined the primary is expected to flare back up with even more intensity.

SD 16 (D-Hurtado) - Republican David Shepard took the top spot with 42.1% of the vote, while incumbent Democrat Melissa Hurtado easily beat former Assemblymember Nicole Parra and progressive Bryan Osorio. The race is expected to be competitive. The two Republican candidates are currently at 50.3% of the vote, with the three Democrats at 49.7%.

Southern California

LA Mayor Rick Caruso is ahead of Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) by 5.1 points in the Los Angeles mayoral race, though barely a third of the results are in. Caruso held a narrow but widening lead over Bass in partial returns early Wednesday. With more than one-third of the expected votes counted, Caruso was ahead with 42% to Bass’ 37%. Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León was third, far behind the leaders, with progressive activist Gina Viola fourth.

Chula Vista Mayor John McCann, who has always been a friend of the merit shop, came in first in his Chula Vista mayor’s race. First, however, he will face Ammar Campa-Najar, who lost a house seat to Issa in 2020.

Orange County Supervisor D4 Surprisingly, two Democrats made it to the runoff for Orange County Supervisor District 4.

Orange County Supervisor D2 Two Democrats made it to the runoff for Orange County Supervisor District 2. Both candidates come from cities that have recently enacted PLAs.

Orange County Supervisor D5 State Senator Pat Bates will probably face Democrat-labor lawyer Katrina Foley in the November election.

San Bernardino Mayor Merit Shop supporter John Valdivia lost his reelection bid.

Riverside County Supervisor D5 Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt made the top two runoffs with PLA supporter Yxstian Gutierrez, the mayor of Moreno Valley.

AD 34 (R-Lackey / R-Smith) - Tom Lackey holds a narrow lead in the redistricted A.D. 34, currently running 41 votes ahead of Assemblyman Thurston 'Smitty' Smith. Democrat Rita Ramirez-Dean is a close third, 2% behind Smith.

AD 40 (R-Valladeres) - Despite her district shifting sharply to the left, incumbent Republican Suzette Martinez Valladares is currently logging 51% of the vote in this Biden 16% district. Labor-backed Democrat Pilar Schiavo is handily beating third-place 2020 candidate Annie Cho.

AD 47 (Open, NPP-Mayes) - There are warning signs for Republicans looking to hold onto the Riverside/San Bernardino County district being vacated by independent Chad Mayes. Democrat Christy Holstege, a Palm Springs city councilmember, leads Mayes' district director Greg Wallis 50.1% to 30.9%. A second Democrat is receiving another 8% of the vote, while the GOP vote share is currently under 42%.

AD 63 (Open, R-Seyarto) - With Fauzia Rizvi as the only Democrat on the ballot, the race between Republicans Bill Essayli and Clint Lorimore for the second spot remains tight, with Essayli leading Lorimore 29.8% to 27.6%. Whichever Republican advances is expected to prevail in November.

AD 70 (Open, R-Nguyen) - In what was expected to be a somewhat competitive race, the Republican candidates are currently at 61.5% of the vote. However, 2020 candidate and Garden Grove city councilmember Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen is in the top spot with 38.5% of the vote as the only Democrat on the ballot, with Republican Tri Ta, the mayor of Westminster, outpacing the other four GOP candidates on the ballot to take the second spot.

AD 71 (NEW, Orange County/Riverside) - It's a close race in the safely Republican AD 71 in the two-person race, with Temecula mayor Matt Rahn leading former Darrell Issa aide Kate Sanchez 52.2%/47.8%. Both will advance to a same-party GOP runoff.

AD 73 (D-Petrie-Norris / R-Choi) - While the redrawn district remains incredibly hostile territory to Republican candidates, as of this morning, Democrat Cottie Petrie-Norris is leading Republican Steven Choi by single digits in a district that voted for Biden by nearly 26%. Choi faces a tough race in November.

AD 74 (R-Davies) - Incumbent Republican Laurie Davies narrowly leads Democrat Chris Duncan, a San Clemente city councilmember, 52.9%/47.1%. The race is almost assured to be a top battleground in November.

AD 75 (R-Waldron / R-Voepel) - The edge in the incumbent-on-incumbent Republican race goes to Marie Waldron, who is crushing Voepel 62.6%/37.4%.

AD 80 (Open, D-Gonzalez) - While progressive Georgette Gomez is leading David Alvarez 35%/32% in the four-way race for the entire term, Alvarez is currently far ahead of Gomez in the two-person runoff for the remainder of Lorena Gonzalez' current term, receiving 56.1% to her 43.9%. The San Diego County Republican Party provided some modest spending in support of Alvarez during the runoff. As with the runoff, Alvarez appears to have much more room to grow in November as the comparatively moderate candidate in the democrat-on-democrat race.

CD 27 (R-Garcia) - Despite losing the conservative Simi Valley portion of his district, Mike Garcia is currently at 49.6%, with two other GOP candidates bumping the Republican vote share to 53.4%. Repeat Democratic candidate Christy Smith easily dispatched newcomer Quaye Quartey for the second spot by a 6% margin. This will be Smith’s third race against Garcia. She gave up a safe Assembly seat to run for Congress. In 2020, Garcia defeated Smith in the general election by 333 votes, making it the third-closest U.S. House race that year. Three independent election forecasters rated the general election as a toss-up.

CD 40 (R-Kim) - Incumbent Republican Young Kim fought off a challenge from her right from serial candidate Greg Raths, outpolling him 34.3% to 24.6%. Physician Asif Mahmood currently receives 39.8% as the only Democratic candidate on the ballot.

CD 41 (R-Calvert) - Incumbent Republican Ken Calvert is currently in first place, with just 43.6% of the vote. Democrat Will Rollins is a lock for the second spot with 35.6%. The two Democratic candidates are currently polling at 50.5% to the GOP candidates' 48.3%, which will no doubt set off alarms at the NRCC.

CD 42 (Open, D-Lowenthal / D-Roybal-Allard) - Democratic Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia is expected to cruise to an easy win in November, with perennial Republican candidate John Briscoe claiming the second spot with 28.7% of the vote and Democratic Assemblymember Cristina Garcia a distant third with 12.7%.

CD 45 (R-Steel) - Incumbent Republican Michelle Steel is leading Democrat Jay Chen 49.3% to 41.2%, with perennial Republican candidate Long Pham claiming another 9.5%. Steel appears to be in a strong position for November.

CD 47 (D-Porter) - Incumbent Democrat Katie Porter will need to dip into her enormous war chest if current trends hold. The second-term Democrat is currently winning a narrow majority of the vote with just under 51%. Former Assembly GOP leader Scott Baugh took the second spot with 30.8% and advances to November.

CD 49 (D-Levin) - Incumbent Democrat Mike Levin will advance to a runoff with third-time Republican candidate Brian Maryott, comfortably leading Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett 18.5% to 10.5% for the second spot.

SD 20 (Open, D-Hertzberg) - While early returns had the race as a same-party Democratic runoff between Bob Hertzberg's adult son (hotel employee Daniel) and Democrat Caroline Menjivar, a former East Valley Area Representative in Los Angeles mayor Garcetti's office, late returns pushed the sole Republican on the ballot, realtor Ely De La Cruz Ayao, into the second spot and he now leads Menjivar 29.5%/24.9%.

SD 36 (NEW, Coastal Orange County) - Republican Assemblywoman Janet Nguyen leads Democratic Huntington Beach city councilmember Kim Carr 56.9%/43.1% and is favored to win in November.

SD 38 (Open, R-Bates) - Republican businessman Matt Gunderson is currently in the top spot with 45.3%, with Democratic Encinitas mayor Catherine Blakespear crushing retired fire captain Joe Kerr 43.9%/10.8% for the second spot. The redrawn district voted for Biden by 16%, and Blakespear is favored in November.

SD 40 (R-Jones) - Incumbent Republican Brian Jones leads Democrat Joe Rocha 53.9%/46.1%. The area is trending blue and should be one of the marquee races in November.

Thursday, May 26, 2022   WECA Political Update May 26, 2022

California/OSHA – Updates for Employers The linked article summarizes recent updates from California/OSHA that employers should understand, monitor, and follow, as applicable. Story
1.     Revised COVID-19 ETS (Effective until December 31, 2022)
2.     Protect Employees from Outdoor Heat
3.     SB 606 Has Expanded OSHA’s Enforcement Authority (Effective January 1, 2022)
4.     Proposed Workplace Violence Prevention Standard for All Industries

And because it is just too easy to be a California employer, California Supreme Court Allows Employees to Seek Derivative Penalties for Meal and Rest Break Violations On May 23, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion that will drastically increase the potential exposure for employers facing meal and rest break class actions. The court, in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc., ruled that employees who are entitled to meal or rest period premiums for denial of compliant meal or rest breaks may now recover derivative waiting time penalties and wage statement penalties previously reserved for nonpayment of traditional wages, such as minimum wage or overtime wages. The article includes some key takeaways from the court’s decision. Story

California Court Decries CEQA Abuse: "Something Is Very Wrong with This Picture" In its stunning opinion delivered on May 12 in Tiburon Open Space Committee v. County of Marin the First District of the California Court of Appeal upheld Marin County's approval of a 43-unit residential project following decades of "not in my backyard" (NIMBY) obstruction, governmental recalcitrance, and multiple court challenges. In so holding, the Court zealously denounced "official hostility" from "two levels of local government" and NIMBY litigation tactics aimed at preventing construction of much-needed housing during a statewide housing crisis. The ultimate impact of Tiburon Open Space Committee remains to be seen, but it has the potential to cast a long shadow. As acknowledged by the Court, "CEQA lawsuit abuse is worsening California's housing crisis. … Something is very wrong with this picture." Hopefully, the Court's forceful affirmation that CEQA is subordinate to state laws limiting the discretionary authority of local agencies to deny or pare the density of compliant housing projects will reduce opportunities to leverage CEQA as an "instrument for the oppression and delay" that has "become its own reward for project opponents." After all, as this important case makes clear, "CEQA is not meant to cause paralysis." Story

California technology company Sendoso to relocate HQ to Phoenix, bring 1,000 jobs A direct mail software startup is investing more than $40 million to relocate its headquarters to the Phoenix area from San Francisco. Last year, Sendoso signed a lease for nearly 60,000 square feet at The Grove, which is located at 4300 E. Camelback Road in the Arcadia area in Phoenix. (Story)

For the first time since 1964, there's no statewide initiative on California's primary ballot The June 7 California primary ballot won’t feature any state ballot measures for the first time since 1964. This year's lack of measures follows a decline in primary ballot initiatives—last year, one proposition was on the primary ballot. Based on decades, the average has declined over time, with an average of 11 on primary ballots in the 1970s and 1980s, 10 in the 1990s, seven in the 2000s, and three in the 2010s. One contributing factor to the decline could be Senate Bill 202, which California lawmakers approved in 2011. SB 202 required citizen-initiated ballot measures be placed only on the November general election ballot. Since SB 202's passage, only legislatively referred ballot measures can appear on primary ballots. The state legislature did not place any such measures on the June primary ballot. However, there are several local measures to be decided on primary day—90 to be exact. There are currently four citizen-initiated measures that qualified for the statewide ballot in November and several more are expected to file signatures ahead of the June 30 signature verification deadline. Legislators also have until June 30 to refer measures to the November ballot. Since 2010, there have been an average of 10 measures decided at the general election—nine citizen-initiated measures and two legislative referrals.

The 8 largest OSHA fines of Q1 2022 The eight contractors who faced the heftiest OSHA fines in the first quarter of 2022 received citations worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, with one eclipsing $1 million. For violations ranging from fall hazards to unsafe trenches, read here about the largest fines OSHA issued in Q1 2022. Obviously, states like Arizona and California who have delegated authority are not in this list, but it illustrates where OSHA is focused.

On a related note… Feds may strip Arizona of OSHA delegation The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced recently that it is considering revoking Arizona’s ability to regulate its own workplace safety rules, saying the state has “routinely failed” to protect workers in the past decade. OSHA released a proposal outlining its reasons for stripping oversight authority from the Industrial Commission of Arizona, which oversees the state’s safety plan. OSHA said Arizona has failed to adopt adequate maximum penalty levels and occupational safety and health standards, among other deficiencies. I recently chatted with Douglas L. Parker, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health about the move. Parker previously served in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration and was a member of the Biden-Harris transition team focused on worker health and safety issues. He said the state would be given an opportunity to address OSHA’s concerns and improve their enforcement efforts. Story

Judge strikes down California corporate gender diversity law A Los Angeles judge struck down the California law requiring more women on corporate boards in the latest legal blow to the state's efforts to mandate more diversity in the business world. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis rejected the law in a case brought by the conservative group Judicial Watch who sued to block SB 826, which the state Legislature passed in 2018, arguing its enforcement would be an unconstitutional use of taxpayer funds. Courts have repeatedly thwarted California's efforts to reshape who wields power in corporate America. Last month a judge struck down a similar law that directed publicly traded companies to have more board members from underrepresented groups like people of color or LGBTQ people. Lawmakers pushed the bill requiring publicly held corporations headquartered in California to include more women on their boards to diversify a male-dominated sphere of executives. California estimated in March only a fraction of the companies that fell under the measure's purview had reported complying with the law. And the measure was widely expected to face court challenges — a hurdle that then-Gov. Jerry Brown pointed to when he signed the bill in 2018 despite what he called serious legal concerns. “I don’t minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation,” Brown wrote at the time. But, he added, “recent events in Washington, D.C. make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message” — an apparent reference to the #MeToo movement and sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. [Politico] The California Secretary of State has announced that she has directed counsel to file an appeal of the May 13 verdict of the Los Angeles Superior Court in Crest v. Padilla, which ruled unconstitutional SB 826, California’s board gender diversity statute. [Cooley LLP]

The COVID-19 Regulation’s Final Re-Adoption – What Does it Mean Going Forward? It has been almost a month since the third (and final) readoption of the COVID-19 Workplace Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) was adopted at Cal/OSHA’s April meeting. Now that the third re-adoption is done, there are three big picture things to keep in mind as we look to the future of COVID-19 workplace safety. Story

California public unions pump $1.2 million into Tony Thurmond’s campaign in May. California teachers and school employees’ unions have pumped $1.2 million into State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond’s re-election campaign since the beginning of May, including:
·        $500,000 donated by the California Teachers Association
·        $200,000 donated by the California Federation of Teachers
·        $500,000 donated by the California School Employees Association

?Read Edward Ring’s article, Tony Thurmond - Public Sector Union Operative.

'Any Person' May File Unfair Labor Practice Charges with the NLRB Some good, some bad… In a recent decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied enforcement of an order of the NLRB and held that an employer’s tweet to employees during a union election campaign did not constitute an unfair labor practice. But the court rejected an employer claim and reaffirmed that the Act does not require the party filing the charge to show that it was aggrieved by the alleged unfair labor practice. Story

Lithium resources in the top 5 states could satisfy worldwide California is in top 5! That’s why IBEW wants PLAs on lithium production.

New data from The Nature Conservancy shows the U.S. would be able to make serious inroads in obtaining lithium to achieve energy goals and weaning off foreign dependency by extracting the mineral within our own borders. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Nevada alone has 8.5 million metric tons of lithium – enough to meet global demand for 85 years. California has another million tons. Lithium resources in the top five states – Nevada, California, Arkansas, North Carolina and Utah – would meet the world’s needs for more than a century based on current global demand and market conditions. And it may be needed as the energy transition accelerates. Global demand for lithium is projected to skyrocket to up to 40 times what it is today by 2040. [Politico]

Contractors' group says it will sue UC Davis over project labor agreements A coalition of non-union contractors is planning to sue the University of California Davis over the use of project labor agreements for some of its recent high-profile projects. A group called the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction held a news conference Wednesday announcing its intention to file suit against UC Davis over its use of project labor agreements for major projects like the $1.2 billion Aggie Square, its $3.8 billion California Tower hospital tower replacement and its new $579 million ambulatory surgical center. Non-union contractors argue that, in effect, project labor agreements exclude them from competitively bidding on projects by requiring they use union labor. Story

Fourth time isn't the charm in attempt to create Calif. gas tax holiday: For the fourth time in as many months, California Republicans in the state legislature sought to force a vote on perhaps the sole version of gas tax relief eschewed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders: a one-year gas tax holiday. The argument against suspending the gas tax, as laid out by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D–Paramount) and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–San Francisco) can be summed up as centering on distrust that the paused gas tax cost savings would not be passed down to the consumer. Wednesday, however, GOPers in the legislature tried a different tactic by forcing a vote on a Democratic-led bill (Assembly Bill 2457) that would not only halt the gas tax for a year, but also levy hefty penalties to oil firms that failed to pass along savings. Story

Interest Costs Rise Sharply in Latest CBO Report The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its first set of budget and economic projections since July 2021. This is the first report since the Federal Reserve began a period of monetary tightening to curb inflation, and it shows sharply higher interest cost projections in the budget outlook. While this year’s deficit looks much better primarily due to the expiration of pandemic relief programs, CBO projects that the deficit will soon begin to climb again. Overall, the report indicates that the nation remains on an unsustainable fiscal trajectory due to a structural mismatch between spending and revenues. The report includes some key takeaways. Story

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for six initiatives in California: And just in case you were thinking a new plant in the yard would look great, Stealing a Joshua tree could now cost you $20,000 in San Bernardino County Illegally removing a Joshua tree in San Bernardino County could now mean a five-figure fine. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a new ordinance Tuesday that increases the fine for unlawfully taking a tree to up to $20,000 for a third conviction and up to six months in jail. Story