SBCTC Bill, AB 1140 Approved by Assembly

May 30, 2013 - State Building Trades sponsored legislation to ensure that construction workers earn the prevailing wage in effect at the time they perform their work, rather than when a contract went to bid, sometimes several years earlier, was approved by the Assembly today. Assembly Bill 1140, authored by Assembly member Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, was approved by a 48-23 vote. Notably, one Republican, Assembly member Brian Nestande of Palm Desert, joined the Democratic majority in favor of the bill. The bill is intended to level the playing field by removing a major disadvantage the current system imposes on union contractors.

SBCTC Legislative Director Cesar Diaz explained to the Assembly that currently, the Department of Industrial Relations issues prevailing wage determinations for each craft and geographic area twice a year. Under current law, the prevailing wage earned by workers on a project is that in effect at the time the project is first advertised for bid. However, long periods of time may pass between the time a project is advertised for bid and construction work actually occurs. Additionally, some projects involve work lasting multiple years.

This lag places unionized contractors at a serious competitive disadvantage in bidding for public work because they are bound to pay the wages required by the current collective bargaining agreement and must anticipate those costs in their bids, while their non-union counterparts face no such obligation. Additionally, under these circumstances, the workers are not receiving the current prevailing wage in effect for their craft and region, but are being unfairly shortchanged with the lower wage in effect during the earlier period. This unfair condition has existed in public contracting bidding for over 40 years.

AB 1140, with its semi-annual prevailing wage determination becoming effective immediately for any work on projects already under construction, will ensure the timely payment of fair wages and that an even playing field for contractors will exist on all public works projects in the state of California. The bill now moves to the Senate.

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