Californians Elect Officeholders Who Care About Workers, And the Results are Good

Robbie Column

September 2013 - California’s Building Trades workers have taken elections seriously in recent years, and have worked exceptionally hard to elect candidates who care about workers, their families, and a better quality of life for the middle class.

The results of those efforts are very real, and are good. Because of our efforts, we now have many public officials in the state Capitol who have a strong regard for working families, apprenticeship, and prevailing wage. They are stepping up to carry legislation that will provide significant benefits and protections for the working families of California.

Let’s take a look at the legislation we are sponsoring this year, how it affects Building Trades members, and take a moment to acknowledge those representatives, elected because of your efforts, who are now fighting for workers’ interests in the Capitol.

Senate Bill 1, by Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento will create jobs by allowing tax increment financing for local government revitalization of blighted areas, and provide for prevailing wage on those projects.

Senator Steinberg has long proven himself a great friend of workers, authoring strong legislation in past years, and co-authoring our most important bill this year, Senate Bill 7, to encourage charter cities to pay prevailing wage as a condition of state funding for public works projects. Also co-authoring that bill is Senator Anthony Cannella of Ceres, a Republican former mayor and civil engineer, who has shown the courage to defy partisan politics and do what’s best for workers in California.

Senate Bill 54 is authored by Senator Loni Hancock of Berkeley, known as a strong fighter for environmental protection and education. This bill increases safety standards at hazardous chemical facilities, and provides for prevailing wage. It also provides that a contractor who works on these facilities shall have a work force with at least 60 percent graduates of a state approved apprenticeship program.

The contents of this bill were previously in Assembly Bill 26 by Assembly member Susan Bonilla of Concord, chair of the Business, Professions and Consumer Protection committee and former mayor and school teacher.

Senate Bill 311 by Senator Alex Padilla of Van Nuys reforms charter city elections that threaten prevailing wage, by ensuring maximum voter participation. Senator Padilla chairs the Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and is a strong voice for job-creating green energy technology. This bill is now state law, and has already been signed by the Governor.

Senate Bill 615 by Senator Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton requires healthcare companies that receive tax-exempt conduit bond financing from a public agency to pay construction workers prevailing wage. She has been among the most enthusiastic boosters of high speed rail during its long journey through the Legislature, creating hundreds of thousands of Building Trades jobs.

Senate Bill 776 by Senator Ellen Corbett of San Leandro stopped the devious practice of cutting workers’ wages by applying payments to sham labor compliance committees against the prevailing wage. Senator Corbett is the Senate Majority Leader and has done great work ensuring that legislation in workers’ best interests moves forward.

Assembly Bill 302 by Assembly member Ed Chau of Montebello expands payment of prevailing wage to projects that receive significant public funds, even if it is a fraction of the overall cost of a large project. Assembly member Chau chairs the Housing and Community Development Committee, and is a former school board member who stresses the connection between education, apprenticeship training, and good jobs.

Assembly Bill 1140 by Assembly member Tom Daly of Anaheim requires that workers on a public works project receive the current prevailing wage, not the lower rate in effect earlier when the project went to bid. He is a former school board member, mayor, and transportation authority board member, and is a strong advocate for transportation investment.

Assembly Bill 1336 by Assembly member Jim Frazier of Oakley extends the statute of limitations for prevailing wage violations from 180 days to 18 months, helping workers receive their proper wages. He is a former mayor and a champion of transportation improvement projects.

Every one of those measures, some of which have already been signed into law by the Governor, when enacted, will result in opportunities for a better quality of life for working men and women in this state. All of the elected officials carrying those bills are doing so because they care about workers. Additionally, there are others too numerous to mention here who are helping, including those who carry our bills through the second house on their way to the Governor’s desk. 

If any of the above mentioned legislators represent your district, please contact them to thank them for their efforts on behalf of working Californians.

The common denominator is, and these good results are possible because of, the tireless and united efforts of all local unions, affiliates, building trades councils, and building trades members throughout this state participating in the campaigns and elections that resulted in representatives that understood our issues being elected.

Thanks to all of you for efforts. What we in the Labor movement are collectively doing in California works, and we are getting results. 


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