Annual Gathering of Labor, Elected Leaders in Sacramento
The San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council and the San Mateo County Building Trades Council hosted a series of meetings with Bay Area legislators in Sacramento on March 15. The two organizations were joined by the San Francisco Labor Council and San Mateo County Central Labor Council. Representatives from the building trades and public and private sector unions asked State Senators Mark Leno and Jerry Hill and Assemblymembers Phil Ting, Rich Gordon, and Kevin Mullin to support labor-backed bills. Assemblymember David Chiu was unable to attend the sessions, and was represented by his Chief of Staff, Judson True. The meetings were part of the Joint Legislative Conference sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council (SBCTC) and the California Labor Federation. The Bay Area legislators expressed strong support for Labor’s 2016 legislative package. Many had voted overwhelmingly in favor of labor’s bills in the 2015 legislative session, with Chiu, Hill, Leno and Mullin having earned 100 percent pro-labor voting records.
Building Trades Bills
Bills supported by the building trades this session build on some of the successes of the past few years when bills were passed to close loopholes in prevailing wage law, protect Building Trades apprenticeship programs, and expand the use of Project Labor Agreements. Bills this year would further protect workers’ rights, including those of building trades apprentices.
Protecting Apprentices from Exploitation
Laborers Local 261 Business Agent David De La Torre asked the legislators to support Assembly Bill 1926, which would close a loophole that now enables non-union construction contractors to avoid paying apprentices who are dispatched to job sites but not used. “When a union apprentice shows up to work, under our collective bargaining agreements, a union contractor is required to pay the prevailing wage for their time, even if they are not utilized that day,” De La Torre explained. “Non-union contractors are not required to do so.” AB 1962 provides apprentices dispatched to non-union contractors with their properly owed prevailing wage rate in the event a contractor does not use the apprentice for construction work. The bill also requires the apprentice to undergo testing, added safety training, or any other pre-employment requirements. The apprentice would receive payment only for the time spent on the required activity. Senator Leno said the bill was about fairness and he would support it. Assemblymember Ting said he is supportive and that, “It’s important to have an even playing field.” Rich Gordon said he is on board, and Chiu’s Chief of Staff, Judson True, said “We like closing loopholes.” Kevin Mullin said he supports the concept of the bill but wanted to look into it further and see the details. Mullin said bills often change as they move through the legislature and he doesn’t like to commit to a vote before he sees the final version.
Strengthening Pre-Apprenticeship Programs
San Francisco Building Trades Council president Larry Mazzola, Jr. urged the legislators to vote for Assembly Bill 2288, which would require building trades pre-apprenticeship programs applying for funding from the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act to include a plan for outreach, recruitment and retention of women. The bill also calls for incorporating the use of the building trades Multi-Craft Core Curriculum in pre-apprenticeship programs. Mazzola said this would ensure that pre-apprenticeship participants are prepared when they go into building trades union labor-management apprenticeship programs. Assemblymember Ting said if the building trades support the bill, he supports it. “I would look to you for guidance, since you know the issues,” Ting said. “We need to bring more folks into the trades.” Chiu and Gordon said they support the bill. Leno said AB 2288 is a very good bill and he would vote for it when it reaches the Senate. Mullin said as a member of the Workforce Investment Board, he is very supportive of apprenticeship programs. Mullin said he would look into the details of the bill and “try to champion it” to help get it passed.
Protecting Construction Workers’ Rights
Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 Business Agent Victor Torreano asked the legislators to support Senate Bill 954. The bill protects construction workers on public works projects by prohibiting contractors from deducting a portion of a construction worker’s wage for anti-union contractor associations. Torreano said the bill “ensures that construction workers are paid what they are owed.” SFBCTC’s Mike Theriault said non-union contractor associations use money deducted from the worker’s wages to fund efforts to undermine worker rights, wages, labor standards and project labor agreements. Assemblymember Ting said the practice is offensive and that he is in favor of the legislation. Senator Leno said he is very supportive. Mullin, Chiu, Hill and Gordon also support the bill.