California Building Trades Legislative Update

April 28, 2015 - On April 22, in various committees in the California State Assembly, State Building Trades representatives met direct opposition from contractors associations and the Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) lobbyists on six sponsored bills. In each committee, State Building Trades sponsored legislation moved forward, over the objection of the ABC’s representatives.

In the Assembly Labor Committee two of our sponsored bills, one expanding prevailing wage and the other strengthening apprenticeship, moved forward:

  • AB 219 (Daly) -Provides prevailing wage coverage for delivery drivers of ready-mixed concrete or asphaltic concrete by clarifying the material supplier exemption in the Labor Code.
  • AB 1308 (Perea) -Revises conditions for when the apprentice training needs of the building and construction trades justify a new apprenticeship program in order to protect existing programs that supply and graduate apprentices. 

In the Assembly Education Committee three bills moved forward, over the objections of contractors associations and the ABC, incentivizing the use of Project Labor Agreements. They were:

·AB 566 (O’Donnell) -Mandates prequalification of contractors and subcontractors on K-12 facility construction projects above $1 million regardless of the funding source, requires that all lease-leaseback contractors and subcontractors hire a skilled workforce, requires all contractors to submit a monthly report to show compliance and allows for that commitment to be satisfied by a PLA that contains the skilled workforce requirements. 

  • AB 1358 (Dababneh)- Authorizes and extends until the year 2025 design-build authority for school districts and consolidates the procurement statutes.  Requires contractors and sub-contractors to employ journeypersons who have graduated from state approved apprenticeship programs.  Similar to SB 785 (Wolk-2014), this bill requires the percentages of a "skilled workforce" to be 20% in 2016, 30% in 2017, 40% in 2018, 50% in 2019 and 60% in 2020.  It also requires all contractors to submit monthly reports to show compliance and allows for that commitment to be satisfied by a PLA that contains the skilled workforce requirements.
  • AB 1431 (Gomez)- Provides school districts that enter into PLAs, for all public works in excess of $25,000, with the ability to utilize an alternative bidding procedure known as Job Order Contracting (JOC).

Finally, on April 27 the full Assembly passed one of our sponsored bills, AB 852 (Burke), which expands the coverage of prevailing wage to certain bond funded hospital construction projects, moved to the Assembly Floor for consideration. Previously, these projects have not been subject to prevailing wage.

Each of these bills sponsored by the Building Trades will improve construction workers’ lives and will set higher standards to ensure a fair and even playing field for contractors in the State of California.

On Monday April 20, the State Building Trades’ legislative representatives killed four bills introduced in the California Legislature by contractors associations and the ABC. They were AB 6, AB 1097, AB 1138, all attempts to stop high speed rail, and AB 1459, pertaining to toll road authority.  Each of these bills was designed to undermine construction workers’ wages and to give advantage to contractors that operate within the underground economy.


State Actions Show that Building Trades’,
Political Activism Makes a Difference –

Both Good and Bad

Ongoing developments in states around the country continue to demonstrate that political activism clearly matters, and makes differences in ways that both help and harm American working families, depending on which side has the strongest political ability.

For example, the attached news report from Wisconsin shows that efforts by that state’s Republican politicians to slash workers’ pay by repealing Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law, are not succeeding, thanks to the ongoing activism of that state’s Building Trades. “Push for Prevailing Wage Repeal Grinding to a Halt,” read an April 21 headline in the Daily Reporter, a Wisconsin business publication. The story reports that the state senator who authored a repeal measure has concluded that he lacks the votes to move the bill out of a committee. Now, instead, the story states, Wisconsin legislators are exploring other “reforms” to the prevailing wage, presumably to find a way to cut construction workers’ pay because of their inability to completely repeal the law.  In any case, Building Trades activism is clearly making a positive difference in Wisconsin.

However, the news is much worse in Arkansas, where Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed a full ban on government entities entering into Project Labor Agreements on publicly funded projects, according to a press release from the Associated Builders and Contractors, boasting of their accomplishment. Arkansas workers will therefore lack the protections of PLAs, and Arkansas taxpayers will be deprived the benefits of high quality workmanship that PLAs ensure. The anti-worker organizations seeking to pad their profits at workers expense have carried the day in Arkansas.

These contrasting results show that, across the country, the political efforts of workers and unions remain crucial for maintaining working families’ quality of life.

Here are links to the Wisconsin story and the ABC press release.

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