Tag Archive for Dan Walters

California Charter Cities and State Prevailing Wage Mandates in 2013 – A Compilation of More than 150 News Articles

Attorneys for charter cities and California citizens: you are welcome and encouraged to use this compilation as a resource and exhibit when you sue the State of California to overturn Senate Bill 7.


Capitol Weekly described Senate Bill 7, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 13, 2013, as “arguably the most important bill to emerge this year from the Legislature.” The new law prohibits the State of California from disbursing funds for construction to any of the 121 cities with charters that exercise their “home-rule” right under Article XI of the California Constitution to establish their own government-mandated wage policies for purely municipal construction contracts and for private projects receiving government financial assistance only from the city.

To preserve their ability to get state funding, cities with charters must stop deviating in their construction contracts from state prevailing wage laws defined in the California Labor Code. Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters described SB 7 as “a significant departure from Brown’s oft-voiced support of ‘subsidiarity,‘ the principle that locally elected officials should have maximum discretion to make decisions for their constituents.” The League of California Cities had asked Governor Brown to veto the bill, noting that “using political leverage to punish those exercising rights provided by the Constitution is unjust.”

SB 7 was a significant attack on constitutional rights, local control, and fiscal responsibility. The new acting mayor of the City of El Cajon, whose citizens approved a charter in June 2012, called the bill “a classic overreach of the state government, to the cost of the rights of sovereign cities.”

Surely SB 7 confirmed the assertion of former Murrieta City Councilmember Doug McAllister, in his February 2013 argument for city charters as the best way to improve the lives of citizens, that “the Left believes the power to reach that goal radiates from top to bottom, while the Right reverses that flow.” Construction union leaders and lobbyists at the state and local levels of California government have been intent on derailing the movement for cities to use charters in order to free themselves from the costly mandates imposed by the state legislature and the governor.

The charter city movement is based on the eroding constitutional principle of federalism – a check and balance against the excesses of centralized government. In October 2012, a professor of public administration at Chapman University (in Orange County) described the City of Costa Mesa as the ideological “ground zero for virtually everything taking place in the country” and its proposed (and ultimately defeated) charter as “a political manifesto of how government should be organized in the 21st century.” Some of the recent intellectual backing for California’s charter city movement has come from the limited-government perspective of www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com and the report (soon to be published in its 4th edition) entitled Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions?

Below are more than 150 news articles and opinion pieces from 2013 revealing the nature of the battle over local control and state-mandated prevailing wage. The year starts with a city adopting its own prevailing wage policy, city councils in several general law cities deliberating over charter language to propose to voters in 2014, and three powerful anecdotes showing the practical implications of state prevailing wage mandates: a planned private hotel stopped after the state determined it was a “public work” subject to prevailing wage, a bill introduced to end outrageously high state-mandated wage rates for janitorial work, and a state enforcement action revealing that prevailing wage increased the cost of a private hotel by more than $8 million.

Then the unions strike back, with the 5-4 votes of the San Diego City Council during the summer to enact a high-profile ordinance backed by disgraced Mayor Bob Filner to impose costly state-mandated prevailing wage on city projects. The ordinance ended 25 years of city control over its prevailing wage policies for city contracts. At the same time, union-backed Senate Bill 7 advanced through the California State Legislature despite significant opposition. Governor Brown signed SB 7 on October 13, even as the charter commission for the City of Costa Mesa was developing another charter and the Mountain View City Council imposed state prevailing wage mandates on private affordable housing developments receiving city financial assistance. Union lobbyists are now moving aggressively to suppress the uprising.

News and Opinion Articles on California Charter Cities, State-Mandated Prevailing Wage, and Senate Bill 7 in 2013

1

Assemblyman Curt Hagman to Introduce Bill on Prevailing Wages for Final Cleanup WorkersSan Bernardino Sun – January 2, 2013

2

California Bill Would Create a New Construction Trade Classification for Final Cleanup and Janitorial Work – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – January 5, 2013

3

Prevailing Wage Scams Steal from Taxpayers – www.CalWatchdog.com – January 11, 2013

4

Newport Beach to Discuss Dock Fees (and exemption of city contracts from prevailing wage requirements) – Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – January 19, 2013

5

Council Closes Book on Dock Fee Increases (In other business…)Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – January 23, 2013

6

Newport Triggers Dock-Fee Increases, Cost-Saving Labor ContractsOrange County Register – January 23, 2013

7

City Eschews Prevailing Wages – Newport Beach/Corona Del Mar Patch – January 24, 2013.

8

Newport Beach Is Latest California Charter City to Establish Its Own Prevailing Wage Policy: 7-0 Unanimous Vote for Fiscal Responsibility and Common Sense – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – January 24, 2013

9

Study Under Way to Find Out if Arroyo Grande Should Try to Become a Charter CitySan Luis Obispo Tribune – January 27, 2013

10

Arroyo Grande Considering City Charterwww.CalCoastNews.com – January 28, 2013

11

Unions Win Prevailing-Wage Case vs. Turtle BayRedding Record-Searchlight – January 29, 2013

12

Fate of Hotel at Turtle Bay in Limbo – Ruling: Park Must Pay Workers Prevailing Wage to build Sheraton HotelRedding Record-Searchlight – January 30, 2013

13

One More Costly Delay on Road to Turtle Bay Hotel – editorial – Redding Record-Searchlight – January 30, 2013

14

Redding Needs a Charter to End Nonsense Definition of Private Hotel as a “Public Works” Project – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – January 31, 2013

15

Got It Backward – letter to the editor by Michael Stanton – San Luis Obispo Tribune – January 31, 2013

16

Redding Needs a City Charter – letter to the editor by Kevin Dayton – Redding Record-Searchlight – February 4, 2013

17

Turtle Bay Nearing Compromise with Unions Over Hotel ConstructionRedding Record-Searchlight – February 7, 2013

18

Buellton Continues “Home Rule’ TalkSanta Ynez Valley News – February 7, 2013

19

Charting Best Path to Buellton’s Future – editorial – Santa Ynez Valley News – February 7, 2013

20

Prevailing Wage Supports Skilled Workers and Their Families – op-ed by Tom Curato – Redding Record-Searchlight – February 10, 2013

21

UA Local 228 Rep. Defends the Prevailing Wage for Redding, Californiawww.WePartyPatriots.com – February 13, 2013

22

Unions Rise to Defense of “Prevailing Wage” Rates Jeopardizing Hotel Project in Redding – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – February 15, 2013

23

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Charter City – op-ed by former Murrieta City Council member Doug McAllister – UT San Diego – February 19, 2013

24

State May Close Prevailing Wage Gap for Charter CitiesCentral Valley Business Journal – February 19, 2013

25

Escondido Mayor Touts Urban Renewal, Embracing DiversitySan Diego Union-Tribune – February 20, 2013

26

Bill Introduced in State Senate to Suppress Authority of California’s Charter Cities to Establish Their Own Policies on Government-Mandated Construction Wage Rates – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – February 20, 2013

27

Republican Lawmaker Touts Bill Pushed by Labor Bullieswww.CalWatchdog.com – February 21, 2013

28

County Offers $200,000 Tax Rebate to Attract $12 Million Business ExpansionBakersfield Californian – February 24, 2013 (States that “Kern County has not extended an economic incentive package to a prospective employer in about 10 years. Sometimes what stands in the way of making such offers, she said, is California’s requirement that building projects supported by public money pay construction workers prevailing wages.”)

29

Moreno Valley: Charter City Committee Could Be CreatedRiverside Press-Enterprise – February 25, 2013

30

Moreno Valley: City to Explore Becoming Charter CityRiverside Press-Enterprise – February 26, 2013

31

Turtle Bay Says It Can’t Afford Prevailing Wage Rate to Build HotelRedding Record-Searchlight – February 27, 2013

32

California’s Pro-Prevailing Wage Bill, SB7, Enjoying Broad Supportwww.WePartyPatriots.com – February 28, 2013

33

With Senate Bill 7, California Unions Advance Plot to Neuter City Charters – by Kevin Dayton – www.UnionWatch.org – February 28, 2013

34

Explain Why Moreno Valley Needs a Charter – editorial – Riverside Press-Enterprise – March 2, 2013

35

Turtle Bay Will Ask Judge for Relief on Hotel Prevailing-Wage RulingRedding Record-Searchlight – March 5, 2013

36

Turtle Bay to Challenge Prevailing Wage Findings – KNVN-24/KHSL-12 News – March 5, 2013

37

Unions Determined to Battle Turtle Bay’s Prevailing-Wage Court ChallengeRedding Record-Searchlight – March 6, 2013

38

Unions Fight Against Slave Labor – op-ed by Greg Beale – Redding Record-Searchlight – March 9, 2013

39

Buellton at ‘Crossroads’ for Decisions, Mayor SaysSanta Ynez Valley News – March 12, 2013

40

Senate Industrial Relations Committee Passes Controversial SB 7 – League of California Cities bulletin – March 13, 2013

41

Prevailing Wage’ Battle Shaping UpStockton Record – March 18, 2013

42

State Seeks to Hamper City Wage Policies – op-ed by Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern – UT San Diego – March 21, 2013

43

Oceanside Pol to Steinberg: Fix Your Own Mess and Leave Us Alonewww.CalWatchdog.com – March 22, 2013

44

Modesto Opposes Bill to Require ‘Prevailing Wage’ on ProjectsModesto Bee – March 24, 2013

45

City of Stockton should listen to their Development Oversight Committee’s Recommendation – ABC NorCal Blog (Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors) – March 28, 2013 (Recommendation was that “the City Council give direction to City staff and the Commission, as to whether or not they should continue working on the Prevailing Wage Exemption, so that the City Can Declare Itself Exempt from Prevailing Wage Laws on Local Projects.”)

46

Grover Beach to Again Look at Becoming a Charter CitySan Luis Obispo Tribune – March 29, 2013

47

Tulare County Board of Supervisors Opposes Wage BillVisalia Times-Delta – April 3, 2013

48

Senate Bill is Nothing More than a Power Grab – editorial – Porterville Recorder – April 5, 2013

49

Grass Valley: Prevailing Wage Bill is State ‘Overreach’The Union (Grass Valley) – April 16, 2013

50

Officials: Prevailing Wage Bill is an Overreach by CaliforniaTahoe Daily Tribune – April 23, 2013

51

Pair of Assembly Bills to Protect the Prevailing Wage Move Through California Committeewww.WePartyPatriots.com – April 26, 2013

52

SB 7 Will End Loophole to Avoid Paying Prevailing Wage – From the President, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California – May 2013

53

Labor, Charter Cities Clash Over Prevailing WageCapitol Weekly via www.CaliforniaCityNews.org – May 7, 2013

54

Mountain View Council Shifting Stance on Prevailing WageSan Jose Mercury-News – May 8, 2013

55

City to Review Mayor’s Proposal to Expand Prevailing Wage Requirements on Public Works Projects – KGTV-10 – May 15, 2013

56

Council Moves to Require Prevailing Wage on ContractsSan Diego Daily Transcript – May 16, 2013

57

City Council Should Reject ‘Prevailing’ Wage Proposal – op-ed by George Hawkins – San Diego Daily Transcript – May 28, 2013

58

Truckee, Grass Valley Watching California Prevailing Wage BillTahoe Daily Tribune – June 4, 2013

59

Prevailing Wages Will Lift San Diego Economy – op-ed by Tom Lemmon – San Diego Daily Transcript – June 5, 2013

60

Don’t Impose ‘Prevailing” Wage on More Cities – editorial – Riverside Press-Enterprise – June 13, 2013

61

Labor Commissioner Collects Over $8 Million in Wages for Public Works Job at Hilton Hotel in San Diego – California Department of Industrial Relations press release – June 17, 2013

62

SB 7 Represents Arrogance of Sacramento’s Local Policy Breakerswww.PublicCEO.com – June 18, 2013

63

SB 7 Subverts Charter Cities’ Autonomywww.CalWatchdog.com – June 19, 2013

64

Committee OKs Prevailing Wage Ordinance – KGTV-10 News – June 19, 2013

65

Hilton Bayfront Construction Workers Collect $8M in Wages – San Diego Daily Transcript – June 20, 2013

66

California Cities Ramp Up Fight Against Union Wage Bill – Sacramento Bee – June 21, 2013

67

Bill Would Push Prevailing WagesUT San Diego – June 21, 2013

68

Mayor Says SB 7 Could Strip Public Works Funding for GilroyGilroy Dispatch – June 25, 2013

69

Senate Bill 7 Limits Charter Cities’ Control – editorial – Modesto Bee – June 24, 2013

70

Charter Panel Digs into Public-Works ContractingNewport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – June 24, 2013

71

Steinberg’s Bill Would Infringe on Local Control – editorial – Sacramento Bee – June 25, 2013

72

The Assault on Charter Cities and Taxpayers – editorial – UT San Diego – June 25, 2013

73

San Diego Takes Next Step Toward Lowering the Threshold for Prevailing Wages to $25,000www.WePartyPatriots.com – June 25, 2013 (includes claim that “The prevailing wage issue is gaining momentum across the state of California.”)

74

Charter Cities: Senate Bill 7 Threatens Voting Rights – op-ed by Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities – San Jose Mercury-News – June 26, 2013

75

Steinberg’s SB 7 Would Tie Charter Cities’ Hands – editorial – Fresno Bee – June 26, 2013

76

Prevailing Wage Bill for Public Works AdvancesUT San Diego – June 27, 2013

77

Union Wages Shouldn’t Be Forced on Cities – editorial – Orange County Register – June 27, 2013

78

Dems Push for Prevailing Wages – KMJ 580 AM News (Fresno) – June 27, 2013

79

SB 7 Limits Charter City Wage Control – editorial – Merced Sun-Star – June 30, 2013

80

Prevailing Wage: Moving Forward in California, Backward in Other States – From the President, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California – July 2013

81

Prevailing Wages Hurt City – column by Joseph Perkins – UT San Diego – July 6, 2013

82

Prevailing Wage Bill for Charter Cities Inches Closer to GovernorThe Union (Grass Valley) – July 18, 2013

83

City Officials Say Prevailing Wage Bill Threatens ProjectsBakersfield Californian – July 18, 2013

84

Union Operatives Infiltrate Office of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to Push Costly and Burdensome Prevailing Wage Mandate for City Contracts – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – July 25, 2013

85

Prevailing Wage: Good for Local Economy, Local Workers – op-ed by Nathan Fletcher – San Diego Daily Transcript – July 26, 2013

86

Did Nathan Fletcher Lose His Mind on Prevailing Wage? – op-ed by Kevin Dayton – San Diego Daily Transcript – July 29, 2013

87

City Faces Higher Costs Under Wage PlanUT San Diego – July 29, 2013

88

Vote ‘No’ on Expanding ‘Prevailing Wage’ in San Diego – editorial – UT San Diego – July 29, 2013

89

Simple List of Official Documents Relevant to July 30 San Diego City Council Vote to Require State Prevailing Wage on City Contracts – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – July 29, 2013

90

After 33 Years, San Diego Submits to State Prevailing Wage Law – by Kevin Dayton in www.UnionWatch.org – July 30, 2013

91

City Council Approves Prevailing Wage Proposal – City News Service, posted on several news web sites, such as KPBS – July 30, 2013

92

U-T San Diego Ignores Growing Evidence Of Prevailing Wage Benefits – Media Matters for America – July 30, 2013

93

City Council Passes Prevailing-Wage OrdinanceSan Diego Daily Transcript – July 30, 2013

94

Council Approves Higher Wages for Projects: City already pays prevailing wages on big developmentUT San Diego – July 30, 2013

95

San Diego Passes Prevailing Wage Bill: Council votes 5-4 to expand policy to work contracts, following Filner’s leadUT San Diego – July 31, 2013

96

Smart Cities Prevail Applauds San Diego Decisionwww.SmartCitiesPrevail.org – July 31, 2013

97

Prevailing Wage Will Force Out Small Guy; Prevailing Wage is All About Payback to Unions; Big Labor Dominates City Hall – letters to the editor – UT San Diego – July 31, 2013

98

A Day to Remember, Not Fondly, at San Diego City Hall – editorial – UT San Diego – August 1, 2013

99

San Diego Political Celebrity Nathan Fletcher Now Supports Government-Mandated Construction Wage Rates – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – August 1, 2013

100

Statewide Poll Shows Broad Support for Prevailing Wage – Substantial Opposition to Going Charterwww.SmartCitiesPrevail.org – August 1, 2013

101

The Stories the Scandal Swallowed – Voice of San Diego – August 2, 2013 (San Diego City Council 5-4 vote to submit to state prevailing wage law for city construction contracts.)

102

Three Recent Polls Show Strong Support for Prevailing Wage Policieswww.SmartCitiesPrevail.org – August 8, 2013

103

Modesto Claims Prevailing Wage Bill Would Punish the CityModesto Bee – August 12, 2013

104

Central Valley City Officials Publicly Voice Opposition to SB 7 in Stockton – League of California Cities bulletin – August 13, 2013

105

Charter Panel Tackles Public WorksNewport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – August 15, 2013

106

Merced Mayor, Other Officials Gather in Modesto to Protest Prevailing Wage BillMerced Sun-Star – August 16, 2013

107

Unions Tempt Republicans with “Bipartisanship” Lure: Five Tips for Resistance – by Kevin Dayton – www.FlashReport.org – August 17, 2013

108

CEOs and Business Leaders for Prevailing Wage – op-ed by Mark Breslin, executive for a unionized construction company association – Modesto Bee – August 19, 2013

109

La Mirada Eyes to Become a Charter CityWhittier Daily News – August 19, 2013

110

Prevailing Wage: Consider Variables – letter to the editor – Modesto Bee – August 21, 2013

111

CEO Comes Out Swinging in Favor of SB7, Prevailing Wages, and the Race to the Topwww.WePartyPatriots.com – August 22, 2013

112

Senators Try To Compel Charter Cities to Pay Prevailing Wages – Capitol Public Radio – August 23, 2013

113

Just What is a ‘Prevailing Wage?’ – op-ed – Pomerado News – August 24, 2013

114

This Week in the War on Workers: Fending Off the ALEC of the Construction Industry in California – Daily Kos – August 24, 2013

115

Reject Push to Blackmail Cities on Wage RulesRiverside Press Enterprise – August 25, 2013

116

Why the Prevailing-Wage Ordinance is a Bad Idea – op-ed by Fred Schnaubelt – San Diego Daily Transcript – August 26, 2013

117

Something is Bothering California Union Leaders and Lobbyists – by Kevin Dayton in www.UnionWatch.org – August 27, 2013

118

Prevailing Wage Panders to Unions, Costs Taxpayers – op-ed by Michael Saltsman of Employment Policies Institute – Orange County Register – August 30, 2013

119

Prevailing Wage Standard Empowers Middle Class – op-ed by Dale Howard of www.SmartCitiesPrevail.orgOrange County Register – August 30, 2013

120

Cities Shouldn’t Ignore Prevailing Wage Economics – op-ed by Tracy Emblem, Democratic candidate for Congress – UT San Diego – August 30, 2013

121

Costa Mesa Mayor: Charter is Sure to PassOrange County Register – September 5, 2013

122

Charter Cities Challenge: State Dollars or Prevailing Wage?UT San Diego – September 7, 2013

123

SB 7: Cities Stand to Lose Home Rule over Municipal Affairswww.PublicCEO.com – September 9, 2013

124

Three Bad Bills that Gov. Jerry Brown Should Veto – editorial – Sacramento Bee – September 9, 2013

125

City Council Reaffirms Prevailing WageSan Diego Daily Transcript – September 10, 2013

126

Legislative Sampler: 2 to Sign, 2 to Veto – editorial – Riverside Press-Enterprise – September 18, 2013

127

‘Prevailing Wage’ Fact and Fiction – op-ed by George Hawkins – San Diego Daily Transcript – September 24, 2013

128

Costa Mesa Charter Committee Takes Up Prevailing WageOrange County Register – September 26, 2013

129

Prevailing Wage Bill Deserves a Veto – editorial – UT San Diego – October 4, 2013

130

Has Labor Leader Overreached? – columnist Dan Morain – Sacramento Bee – October 9, 2013

131

Stifling Unions – editorial – Victorville Daily Press – October 9, 2013

132

Costa Mesa Charter to Remove ‘Prevailing Wage’Orange County Register – October 10, 2013

133

Mountain View: City-Funded Affordable Housing Projects to Pay Prevailing WageSan Jose Mercury-News – October 10, 2013

134

Council OKs Union Wages for Affordable Housing: Policy Will Add about 10 Percent to Cost of New ProjectsMountain View Voice – October 10, 2013

135

City of Mountain View Expands Prevailing Wage Mandate to Private Affordable Housing Developments Getting City Funds – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – October 10, 2013

136

Governor Should Veto Wage bill – editorial – Modesto Bee – October 11, 2013

137

If Gov. Brown Doesn’t Like Intrusion, He Should Veto SB 7 – editorial – Sacramento Bee – October 12, 2013

138

Jerry Brown Signs Prevailing Wage Bill for Charter CitiesSacramento Bee – October 13, 2013

139

Governor Brown Signs Union-Backed Senate Bill 7 and Continues Erosion of Constitutional Checks and Balances – by Kevin Dayton in www.FlashReport.org – October 13, 2013

140

Brown Signs Prevailing Wage Bill – Capitol Weekly – October 14, 2013

141

Brown Signs Prevailing Wage Bill for CitiesCentral Valley Business Journal – October 14, 2013

142

Governor Brown Signs Prevailing Wage Bill – A Bubbling Cauldron (blog in Costa Mesa) – October 14, 2013

143

Governor Signs Prevailing Wage Bill for Charter CitiesSacramento Business Journal – October 14, 2013

144

Charter Cities to Lose Authority Over Public Works Projectswww.PublicCEO.com – October 14, 2013

145

Gov. Brown Signs SB 7 to Neuter Charter Citieswww.CalWatchdog.com – October 14, 2013

146

New Law Requires Charter Cities to Pay Prevailing Wages – East County Magazine – October 14, 2013

147

Prevailing Wage Law Could Raise CostsUT San Diego – October 14, 2013

148

Unions Smile, Cities Frown at Prevailing Wage LawBakersfield Californian – October 14, 2013

149

Modesto Fears Harm from New Prevailing Wage LawModesto Bee – October 14, 2013

150

California Construction Unions Get Two Big Wins – columnist Dan Walters – Sacramento Bee – October 15, 2013

151

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Autonomy is good – but only for state? – editorial – Santa Rosa Press-Democrat – October 15, 2013

152

Charter Could Cost City FundingNewport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – October 16, 2013

153

Governor Signs SB 7: Charter Cities Required to Pay Prevailing Wage – Porterville Recorder – October 16, 2013

154

Governor Does Disservice to All Charter Cities – editorial – Porterville Recorder – October 20, 2013

155

Prevailing Wage Now Irrelevant – A Bubbling Cauldron (blog in Costa Mesa) – October 22, 2013

156

Oppose a Charter with ‘Prevailing Wage’ Exemption – letters to the editor – Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – October 22, 2013

157

Groups Accuse Grover Beach of Violating State Open Meeting LawSan Luis Obispo Tribune – October 22, 2013 (One group is www.SmartCitiesPrevail.org)

158

Facts Wrong – letter to the editor by Robbie Hunter, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California – Porterville Recorder – October 24, 2013

159

Wage Law Costs Cities More than Money – op-ed by El Cajon Acting Mayor Bill Wells – UT San Diego – October 25, 2013

160

Unions “Using Political Leverage to Punish Those Exercising Rights” in California Constitution – by Kevin Dayton in www.UnionWatch.org – October 29, 2013

161

Brown Inconsistent on Local-Control Issues: Is ‘subsidiarity’ little more than a platitude?UT San Diego – October 30, 2013

 

Latest Scheme for Career Technical Education: School Districts Borrowing Money with “Social Impact Bonds” – Unions on Board

On March 19, 2013, California State Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg led a press conference to promote Senate Bill 594 (California Career Pathways Investment, also known as the High School Dropout Reduction & Workforce Development Bond Act of 2013) meant to encourage partnerships among school districts, corporations, and unions for career technical education in California K-12 schools and community college districts.

Senator Steinberg also promoted this bill on March 22 at Redevelopment Forum: Revitalizing our Neighborhoods in a Post-Redevelopment Era, hosted by the San Diego Foundation. SB 894 is apparently a serious initiative.

It establishes an unfunded mandate for K-12 school districts and community college districts to create a new pool of money called a “Career Pathways Investment Trust Fund.” These districts can borrow money for the program by selling “Social Impact Bonds” (a concept promoted by the “progressive” Center for American Progress) for which investors can earn “Career Pathways Investment Credits.” This will be overseen by a new state government board called the “California Career Pathways Investment Committee.” The appointments of the Assembly Speaker and Senate Rules Committee to this committee will likely be union officials.

Senate Bill 594 exemplifies the foolishness of governance in the California State Legislature:

  • bizarre and incomprehensible financing schemes
  • borrowing money (with interest) without consideration of cumulative debt service
  • unfunded state mandates
  • forcing the state’s local governments to create and manage another pool of money
  • inviting more corruption at local governments
  • creating another state government board
  • tax breaks to corporations for ambiguous purposes
  • intrusion of corporations and unions into the public school system
  • brilliant suggestions that freed-up funds from a few cuts in the state budget can be transferred to pay for it
  • lack of concrete evidence that there is a problem (in fact, testimony during the press conference suggested the big problem is a lack of jobs, not lack of training)
  • government solutions for something that could be handled by the free market if there was real demand

When Governor Schwarzenegger promoted his Career Technical Education initiative in 2007, he considered it worthy enough to propose paying for it out of the general fund through the annual state budget. His efforts were not deemed worthy of mention at the SB 594 press conference.

Here’s my March 20, 2013 article in www.UnionWatch.org about the press conference and Senate Bill 594: Businesses Can Make a “Social Impact Bond” with Unions – www.UnionWatch.org – March 20, 2013.

The Sacramento Bee posted an article on March 21, 2013 about Senate Bill 594, Steinberg Pushes Privately Funded Career Training Program, which quotes me as a skeptic:

But skeptics wonder how the career readiness programs would be funded.

“They need to stop coming up with new funds and new schemes paid for by borrowed money,” said Kevin Dayton, head of the consulting firm called Labor Issues Solutions. “New things like this are just a big distraction. If they want to do career education they should fund it in the general budget.”

I posted these comments under the article:

Do you want your K-12 school district or community college district to establish a “Career Pathways Investment Trust Fund” and oversee yet another pool of money? It’s a mandate.

Let’s create another state government board: the “California Career Pathways Investment Committee!” The appointments of the Assembly Speaker and Senate Pro Tem will certainly be union officials.

Do you want your K-12 school district or community college district to sell “Social Impact Bonds?” Who will pay the interest on these bonds? Who will make the money on the interest?

“Career Pathways Investment Credits” – how about just focusing on an efficient, responsible government with a simple tax structure?

As another comment indicated, “the State has funding for apprentices (it contributes about 5% of the cost to train an apprentice – the rest coming from employers)…”

I also mentioned this in my comment:

One is led to believe Senate Bill 594 is needed because California businesses can’t find skilled workers. But notice the nurses’ association representative says the problem is that trained nurses can’t find jobs in California and therefore need to move out-of-state. And is there really a shortage of skilled construction workers in California right now? Are there no longer 20%-30% unemployment rates in the building trades? Or is SB 594 for training disadvantaged union workers to build the California High-Speed Rail under the Project Labor Agreement?

Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton wrote positively about the general concept of encouraging career technical education (he avoids the politically correct phrase and simply calls it “shop”), but his column (Reinvigorating ‘Career Tech’ a Worthy Goal – Los Angeles Times – March 20, 2013) also reveals that the supporters don’t understanding the funding scheme:

Steinberg’s legislation is a bit convoluted — at least the financing part — and needs much work…Steinberg is suggesting several financing methods, including tax credits and foundation grants. But the main money source involves bonds. The state would sell “workforce development bonds” — say, for $1 million a crack — to businesses in areas “with the greatest potential for high-wage job growth.” The bond revenue would pay for the career-tech programs. The bond-buyers would earn a rate of return based on a program’s results, as judged by some committee. “I’m not sure I completely understand it,” Zaremberg [Allan Zaremberg, President & CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce] told me. “Why don’t we just fund this out of existing resources? Is this not a priority? … like Zaremberg, he [Jack Stewart, President of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association] doesn’t quite grasp the bond idea.

Dan Walters is another California commentator who has written much over many years about the need for stronger career technical education programs in California public schools. (For example, see Technical Education Fight RagesSacramento Bee – November 19, 2007)  I look forward to reading his perspectives on Senate Bill 594.

Happy Holidays: News Coverage of California Labor Issues on Labor Day 2012

It seems to me that Labor Day news coverage focusing on labor union issues in California was much less in 2012 than in past years. I have a big file of Labor Day press clips from when unions were flying high during the years of Governor Gray Davis (1999-2003), but this year’s news coverage is fairly sparse.

Here’s various Labor Day 2012 news stories, opinion pieces, and press releases about labor unions and labor policy issues in California:

Los Angeles Daily News article (On Labor Day, Trying Times for Organized Labor – Los Angeles Daily News – September 2, 2012) reports that unions are on the defensive in politics, in commerce, and in collective bargaining for government employees.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported on the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council‘s annual Labor Day picnic in Santa Cruz. Quotes from attendees mainly refer to the legislative accomplishments of unions from 125 years ago. The Vice President of the Labor Council is quoted as saying, “Who had ever heard of a weekend before the unions came along? People assume it’s there and always has been there, and it hasn’t.” See Picnic Draws Union Members to DeLaveaga Park – Santa Cruz Sentinel – September 3, 2012.

As reported in the Sacramento Bee, unions provided food for the homeless on Labor Day and received some positive press coverage: Unions Supply Volunteers for Labor Day Lunch at Loaves & Fishes – Sacramento Bee – September 3, 2012. Many of the 75 comments about the article cynically accuse the unions of a public relations stunt.

KQED in San Francisco posted a blog providing a brief history of union power in San Francisco in the early 1900s. Labor Day Special: The San Francisco Waterfront Strike of 1901 – KQED – August 31, 2012.

Los Angeles Times pro-union columnist Michael Hiltzik provided a positive union perspective through a report on the rigors of apprenticeship training for the Ironworkers Union Local No. 416 and Ironworkers Union Local 433 in Southern California. (Ironworkers Union Gives Skills to Members, Public Safety to All – Los Angeles Times – September 2, 2012.) This column relies on the old image of labor unions: a brotherhood of men centered around tough, dangerous work in the construction trades. It also acknowledges some of the shortcomings of unions, including the result of the Ironworkers union having a monopoly on state-approved apprenticeship training for the trade:

Getting into the ironworkers apprenticeship program isn’t a snap. It may help to have a relative, or even a well-wishing neighbor or family friend, in the Ironworkers, but that’s not a prerequisite, nor is it enough. Applicants, who have to be at least 18 with a high school diploma or equivalent, must line up a construction contractor willing to sponsor them with at least six weeks of employment before they can start. That explains why, with the local construction market still soft and the building trades still suffering from about 40% unemployment, there’s a waiting list of about 5,000 applicants looking for sponsors right now.

So there’s a waiting list of 5000 people for how many spots? And nepotism is still important to get in? This is an example of how apprenticeship programs can be used to control who and how many people enter the construction workforce.

Meanwhile, Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters took a more relevant and contemporary view on the influence of labor unions in California. Here are excerpts from California Unions Hold Power but Face Peril – Sacramento Bee – September 3, 2012:

Anyone who was paying attention to the California Legislature during the hectic final days of the 2012 session last week could see the political clout of the state’s labor unions.

Countless union-backed bills whipped through the Capitol and onto Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Although union lobbyists lost a few battles, they could count many more victories.

With the Legislature’s Democratic majority utterly beholden to unions for political sustenance and with a governor, Jerry Brown, whose 2010 campaign relied on union financing, unions and their 2.4 million members are at the apogee of political influence.

Finally, a writer for the leftist San Diego Free Press asks this ridiculous question on September 3, 2012: Is This California’s Last Labor Day? This article focuses on Proposition 32, a statewide measure described on the November 6, 2012 ballot as follows: “Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees.”

This doesn’t seem unreasonable, but recognize that labor unions, big corporations, and government contractors are all in cahoots in California to perpetuate Big Government, at the expense of individuals and small businesses. Proposition 32 would stop some of that special interest money funding state and local political campaigns, while unions and their cronies in business are determined to keep the status quo by convincing a majority of voters to reject it.

In 2012, Election Day is more important to California unions than Labor Day. Perhaps that’s why there was little news coverage.

Workers’ Compensation Reform Bill Sent to Governor Jerry Brown Has One Change to Union-Exclusive Alternative Dispute Resolution Carve-Out Program

On August 31, 2012 (the last day of the 2012 California legislative session), the California State Assembly voted 72-5 and the California State Senate voted 34-4 for Senate Bill 863, a bill making various changes to California’s workers compensation system.

As is customary in the California State Legislature, the bill was created as a gut-and-amend at the last minute (amended on August 24, August 27, and August 30) and whipped through the legislative process to Governor Jerry Brown on August 31 without adequate review.

As Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters wrote in his September 2, 2012 column entitled The Legislative Process Does Count:

A 170-page overhaul of California’s multi-billion-dollar workers’ compensation system – hammered out during months of secret negotiations between business and labor union lobbyists – was dumped on the desks of 80 Assembly members late Friday after being whisked through two perfunctory committee hearings…

So is SB 863 good public policy or not?

One can’t really answer that question, and the same ambiguity envelops almost everything else that was done, and left undone, in the final days of the session.

SB 863 was one of countless measures that popped up during those days, entirely new bills that were hustled through the process with little or no detailed knowledge of what they really do, or whose interests they serve.

I looked at the final version of Senate Bill 863 to see if the bill changed the obscure alternative dispute resolution “carve-out” program authorized exclusively for the unionized construction industry. It does. For some reason (innocuous or sinister?), Senate Bill 863 eliminates this reporting requirement, which was part of the original 1993 authorization:

By June 30, 1996, and annually thereafter, the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation shall prepare and notify Members of the Legislature that a report authorized by this section is available upon request. The report based upon aggregate data shall include the following:

(1) Person hours and payroll covered by agreements filed.

(2) The number of claims filed.

(3) The average cost per claim shall be reported by cost components whenever practicable.

(4) The number of litigated claims, including the number of claims submitted to mediation, the appeals board, or the court of appeal.

(5) The number of contested claims resolved prior to arbitration.

(6) The projected incurred costs and actual costs of claims.

(7) Safety history.

(8) The number of workers participating in vocational rehabilitation.

(9) The number of workers participating in light-duty programs.

The division shall have the authority to require those employers and groups of employers listed in subdivision (c) to provide the data listed above.

Why was this language eliminated? The legislative analyses for the bill don’t say.

Background on Alternative Dispute Resolution in Carve-Outs for Unionized Companies

This program was established as California Labor Code Section 3201.5. It was part of a workers compensation reform enacted by Governor Pete Wilson in 1993. The program was expanded by reform legislation signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004. (Section 3201.7 allows unionized employers in other industries to set up similar programs.)

An article in the March 10, 2006 Sacramento Business Journal (“Unionized Firms Save in Workers’ Comp Plan“) gave rare news media attention to this program, which is only available to construction companies in a collective bargaining agreement with unions or signatory to a Project Labor Agreement. I’m quoted in the article:

Too bad this kind of program is only allowed in the construction industry when companies and employees are part of a collective bargaining agreement, said Kevin Dayton, state government affairs director for Associated Builders and Contractors of California, a merit-shop group.

The California Department of Industrial Relations maintains a list of what are now 34 carve-out programs established to date. Unions have promoted this program as a benefit of unionization. For example, the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) – then (and now) chaired by California Labor Federation lobbyist Angie Wei – was able to commission what is now the University of California Miguel Contreras Labor Program to produce a 2006 report entitled How To Create a Workers’ Compensation Carve-Out in California: Practical Advice for Unions and Employers. The California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation has also hosted at least one conference on Workers’ Compensation Carve-Outs and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Although I never hear carve-outs cited nowadays as a reason to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement, unions and pro-union construction management firms such as Parsons Constructors used the existence of this alternative dispute resolution carve-out program as an argument in support of Project Labor Agreements for large infrastructure projects during the early years of government-mandated Project Labor Agreements in California (1993-2000). One example was the Project Labor Agreement for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory National Ignition Facility in Livermore, California. It was negotiated in 1997 between construction manager Parsons Constructors and officials of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County.

Seeking Access to Alternative Dispute Resolution for Non-Union Contractors

In 1998, then-Senator Dick Mountjoy introduced Senate Bill 2019, sponsored by the California Business Properties Association (the contract lobbying firm at the time for three California chapters of Associated Builders and Contractors), which would have eliminated the requirement that alternative dispute resolution programs for workers compensation in the construction industry be part of a collective bargaining agreement. Opposed by unions and trial lawyers, the bill did not get out of committee, and since then there have been no attempts to expand alternative dispute resolution in the construction industry outside of the unionized arena.

Before the 2011 legislative session, I attempted on behalf of my former employer (Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of California) to develop language that would allow non-union contractors to reduce workers compensation costs through participation in an alternative dispute resolution program. I was unable to figure out a way to graft such a program onto the existing law, which is dependent on the models of union collective bargaining agreements and labor-management cooperation committees.

Trying to Eliminate Favoritism in California State Law for Bidders in the Union-Exclusive Alternative Dispute Resolution System

Various laws authorize state agencies and local governments in California to award contracts for construction projects with subjective “best value criteria” under the “design-build” alternative bidding procedure. Unionized contractors that are part of alternative dispute resolution carve-out programs get a special exemption from safety requirements.

Design-build authorization language throughout California law includes the following:

A bidder’s safety record shall be deemed acceptable if their experience modification rate for the most recent three-year period is an average of 1.00 or less, and their average Total Recordable Injury/Illness rate and average lost work rate for the most recent three-year period does not exceed the applicable statistical standards for its business category, or if the bidder is a party to an alternative dispute resolution system, as provided for in Section 3201.5 of the Labor Code.

So a bidder in an alternative dispute resolution system (under California Labor Code Section 3201.5) does not have to worry about the experience modification rate or injury/illness/loss rate. As noted above, Section 3201.5 only applies to contractors in either a collective bargaining agreement or a Project Labor Agreement. Non-union contractors cannot use this method of alternative dispute resolution.

On January 11, 2010, the Assembly Business and Professions Committee considered Assembly Bill 1063, introduced by Assemblyman Martin Garrick and sponsored by my former employer, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of California. It would have removed language that allows a contractor with a poor safety record to be “acceptable” if it is part of an alternative dispute resolution program that by law is restricted to contractors in a collective bargaining agreement or project labor agreement.

ABC of California argued that all design-build entities should have a decent safety record, without exceptions. The Western Electrical Contractors Association stated that “A safety record should be based on safety – not the existence of a side-agreement over dispute resolution – the two have nothing to do with each other! There is simply no valid public policy served by this requirement.” But the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO opposed AB 1063 by praising unions and their activities, which was sufficient for the bill to fail on a party-line vote (Democrats opposed, Republicans in support.)


Update, October 31, 2013: The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) issued a bulletin on October 28, 2013 announcing The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) Approves Carve-Out Agreement Covering 22,000 Workers in Southern California between seven Southern California United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local unions, Vons and Super A Foods. I sent this tweet in response:

A labor attorney representing management emailed me a response:

But Kevin this can only work under a union contract because the health plan workers comp plan and grievance process are combined. A good idea. Still, few unions have implemented as it is a lot of work to make it work…Impossible to do in a non-union setting as the grievance process side of things would be cost prohibitive and disruptive – only works in union setting as the grievance process is already in place, as is the trust health plan administration system which does double duty – that is reason for efficiencies. Maybe some giant corporation might try it non-union but doubt it – frankly most unions see the benefits but it is so much work and can cause employee dissatisfaction if a comp case goes wrong that not worth it. And then what do you do with claimants’s lawyers? – nice idea, but generally a no-go.

California’s Charter Cities Battle the State Legislature: Political Columnist Dan Walters Ties Together Project Labor Agreements, Prevailing Wage, and Public Employee Pension Reform

ATTENTION: See my latest, updated, comprehensive compilation of news coverage concerning the July 2, 2012 California Supreme Court decision in State Building and Construction Trades Council of California v. City of Vista upholding the right of charter cities to establish their own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates here.


It’s hard to cajole overworked newspaper reporters to research and write about government-mandated construction wage rates (“prevailing wage”) and Project Labor Agreements, and it’s hard to get editors to see value in covering these issues for their readership. The state and local labor issues monitored and reported by the Dayton Public Policy Institute cost a lot of money for California taxpayers, but these issues are also relatively difficult to understand and fairly technical and arcane in nature.

That’s why I was thrilled this morning to see the excellent column from respected Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters summarizing the current strained relationship between the California State Legislature and California’s 121 charter cities. He manages to tie together Project Labor Agreements, state-mandated construction wage rates (“prevailing wage”), and public employee pension reform in the context of what cities can do to assert their local home rule authority through charters.

Newspapers throughout the state of California publish Dan Walters’ columns.

Dan Walters: City-State Relations Take a Turn – Sacramento Bee (columnist) – July 9, 2012