Government Affairs Update, by Richard Markuson, CAPHCC Lobbyist

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PLA Update

Three PLAs were debated this week in three diverse locales – with mixed results.

The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously to pass a blanket five-year PLA with a $500,000 threshold.

IBEW dispatched several hundred supporters forcing the overflow to the library where the meeting could be watched on television. They wore custom-made shirts just for the event and held signs that read “PLA = JOBS”.

Both Congressman Alan Lowenthal and Congresswoman Janice Hahn attended. “This is really about making sure Long Beach workers are prepared for work and will get work in this city with construction projects,” Lowenthal said. “That’s just exactly what this city should be doing.”

Hahn called the labor agreements beneficial because they “provide taxpayers with a better project in the end, due to the fact that they’re carried out by union workers, who after acquiring the ‘skills to pay bills,’ put out a better product because of their connection to the city.”

A slightly different outcome occurred in San Luis Obispo County where the Supervisors were briefed on PLAs but took no action to adopt an agreement. Like the recent debate at Cuesta College – the local building trades encouraged the PLA – citing the new mantra that PLAs are about local hire.

Finally back at the West Contra Costa County City of Pinole, the City Council continued its drive to impose a PLA on their new waste treatment facility. What is unique is that the facility is jointly sponsored with the City of Hercules that did not favor a PLA – setting up a conflict between the two cities – and possible litigation.

Want to support our PLA response teams and live in the wine country (the one in Napa/Solano etc)? Consider attending a PLA meeting at NCBE on April 30. More info here.

2015 Legislation

The State Assembly passed AB 251 by Assembly Member Levine on a party-line vote of 50-28-2. AB 251 would trigger prevailing wage requires if a public subsidy is more than $25,000 or more than 1% (whichever is less) of the total project cost. Governor Brown vetoed the same bill last year. (Oppose)

Assembly Member Shannon Grove is the author of AB 588 (Support) that would provide an employer with the right to cure a violation of the wage statement law requirement before an employee may bring a civil action under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). Unscrupulous lawyers have been filing abusive lawsuits using the PAGA against small businesses throughout California, shaking down businesses for tens of thousands of dollars over minor technical errors. PAGA was originally enacted in 2004 to provide additional protections for employees. Since that time, however, lawyers have used PAGA to file a mountain of abusive lawsuits that have corrupted the act. Grove has introduced AB 588 to undo some of the damage by PAGA.

AB 588 will give businesses a fair shot to correct minor paycheck errors before they are subject to litigation.  California’s current system encourages abusive lawsuits and gives the trial bar free reign to line their own pockets at others’ expense. AB 588 will help local businesses grow and bring jobs to California.

PHCC members are encouraged to use this tool to send their representatives a letter asking them to support AB 588!

Assembly Member Evan Low is author of AB 883 (Oppose) that is a perplexing statutory prohibition against private and public employers from publishing or posting a job advertisement or announcement that states or indicates directly or indirectly that the applicant for employment must not be a current or former public employee. The sponsors of the bill could not point to any example of any instance of this happening – but that absence of evidence did not keep the Democrats from approving the bill.

Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez amended his AB 1431 (Oppose). The bill would allow school districts to use job order contracting only if they have entered into a project labor agreement that will apply to all public works in excess of $25,000 undertaken by the school district through at least December 31, 2021, regardless of what contracting procedure is used to award that work. The bill would also, for the first time, restrict school districts to only using JATCs for apprenticeship.

The uber-expensive Special Election in Senate District 7 continues to inundate voters with mail and phone calls. Blogger Richard Eber wrote recently “I cannot help but to be disgusted with both candidates. The outright political lies and deceit displayed in their campaigns makes one want to take a shower each time one of their attack pieces lands in our mail boxes. Which one is worse is anyone’s guess.”

Eber called out Steve Maviglio who worked for Governor Gray Davis, Assembly leaders Fabian Nunez and Karen Bass, now runs Forza Communications. “In this contest, Maviglio is also spokesman for a PAC – Working Families against Steve Glazer” which he calls “primarily a front for public employee and craft labor unions. Prior to the March 17th run-off, the same people claiming to represent Asians, put out the deceptive mailer to support Republican Michaela Hertle who previously dropped out of the race and endorsed Glazer.  This time their dirty tricks make the Watergate gang look like choir boys.”

Glazer had complained to the State’s political watchdog – the FPPC – about the reporting of the source of money in the race. The state’s political watchdog agency has rejected state Senate candidate Steve Glazer’s complaint about the union-bankrolled PAC that’s opposing him. He observed that Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate “had issued a mailer that didn’t disclose the big money – $185,000 from the State Council of Service Employees and $75,000 from the California School Employees Association – behind the PAC. But Galena West, acting chief of the FPPC’s enforcement division, sent a letter to Glazer on Tuesday saying the PAC ‘has provided evidence that the mailer was already in production prior to the committee’s acquiring contributors of more than $50,000.’” One wonders if the FPPC would be as charitable if big unions were not the targets of the complaint.

Down in San Diego’s 52nd Congressional District, “Marine veteran Jacquie Atkinson announced Wednesday morning that she will challenge Democratic Rep. Scott Peters for his San Diego congressional seat in 2016. ‘I have served my country in combat and I am prepared to serve my country in Congress,’ the Republican said in her announcement. Peters, a former San Diego city councilman, narrowly won re-election to his second term in the 52nd Congressional District by besting Republican Carl DeMaio last year.”

In the Central Coast 24th CD, Representative Lois Capps set off a scramble with the announcement yesterday that she will not seek reelection in 2016.  Elena Schneider has the story at Politico: “’The 24th District has been competitive for multiple cycles and instantly becomes a more likely pick-up opportunity for Republicans in 2016 with Lois Capps’ retirement,’ said Zach Hunter, regional spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Democrats have also tossed around several possibilities to replace Capps, including one name that would continue the family dynasty. Some have hinted that Laura Capps, Capps’ daughter, who recently moved back to the district, could be considering a run. Capps, now in her ninth full term, first ran for the seat in a special election in March 1998 to replace her husband, Walter Capps, after he died of a heart attack in October 1997.”

Obama Vetos Repeal of “Snap Election” Rule. Surprising no one, President Obama vetoed a joint resolution passed by both houses of Congress that sought to overturn the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) rules designed to speed up the union election process. Scheduled to go into effect on April 14, 2015, these so-called “quickie” or “ambush” election rules significantly shorten the period of time between a petition for a union election and a vote. Despite Congress’s ill-fated attempt to block the rules under the Congressional Review Act, the rules still face potential hurdles. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia in January 2015 seeking to vacate the rules and enjoin their enforcement. Business groups in Texas filed a similar lawsuit in January 2015. These lawsuits allege numerous reasons why the rules should be invalidated, including alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act and Congressional intent, alleged violations of the First Amendment and due process protections, and arbitrary and capricious rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act. In the mean time – contractors must remain vigilant.

NLRB Guidance. On March 19, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made public new guidance governing a number of keys areas that have been challenging employers for the last few years. These clarifications could affect employers’ policies in the areas of confidentiality, professionalism, social media use, anti-harassment, use of cameras and camera phones, trademark and copyright protection, and media contacts.

All private-sector employers should review their handbooks and policies to ensure compliance with this latest guidance. The NLRB consistently finds rules unlawful when they are deemed overbroad or if they can “reasonably be construed by employees as restricting Section 7 activity.” Read more here.