Tag Archive for Northern California District Council of Laborers

California Bill Would Create a New Construction Trade Classification for Final Cleanup and Janitorial Work

UPDATE: An article posted on January 11, 2013 in www.CalWatchdog.com reveals how some company officials in the California construction industry illegally handle the $45 per hour state-mandated wage rate for construction cleanup laborers. I’m quoted in the article. See Prevailing Wage Scams Steal from Taxpayers.

My article California’s “Prevailing Wage” – Floor Vacuuming at $45.93/Hour was posted on January 8, 2012 in www.UnionWatch.org.


An article in the January 2, 2013 San Bernardino Sun (Assemblyman Curt Hagman to Introduce Bill on Prevailing Wages for Final Cleanup Workers) reports that Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills) will be introducing a bill to establish a new trade classification for the purposes of setting state-mandated construction wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”) for low-skilled cleanup work on taxpayer-funded construction in Southern California.

Here is the draft summary of the bill to establish a construction cleanup prevailing wage rate in California.

Here is the draft text of the bill to establish a construction cleanup prevailing wage rate in California.

The article reports that the state requires contractors working on public works projects in Northern California to pay at least $12 per hour to laborers engaged in janitorial or final clean-up work for construction. Meanwhile, the state requires contractors working on public works projects in Southern California to pay at least $45 per hour to laborers engaged in janitorial or final clean-up work for construction, because Southern California lacks a janitorial work or final cleanup trade classification.

A decision in 2009 (Harbor Construction Co., Inc.) from John Duncan, Director of the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) during the Schwarzenegger Administration, stated that “final cleanup” work was subject to state-mandated construction wage rates when such work was included in a contract between a construction company and a public agency. That “final cleanup” included “vacuuming, dusting, cleaning and polishing windows, walls and floors” for a project of the Antelope Valley Union High School District in Los Angeles County. Harbor Construction hired Baron Cleaning Services for a cost of $8,721.00 to perform clean-up work, and Baron Cleaning Services paid the workers for a total of 619 hours as if they were doing private janitorial work. The labor compliance program at Antelope Valley Union High School District concluded that this was construction work to be paid at the applicable state prevailing wage rate, and the DIR agreed.

So how are contractors able to pay $12 to janitors who perform final cleanup work on public works projects in Northern California?  I’m not sure.

In California, “prevailing wages” for construction trades are almost always based on the employer payments in the applicable collective bargaining agreement for a geographical region: see Section 1773 of the California Labor Code and Title 8, Subchapter 3 of the California Code of Regulations.

In Northern California, the state-mandated wage rate for Laborers Group 4 trade classification applies to “Final cleanup on building construction projects prior to occupancy only. Cleaning and washing windows (new construction only), service landscape  laborers (such as gardener, horticulture, mowing, trimming, replanting, watering during plant establishment period) on new construction.” But the straight time hourly wage for that classification is $39.02 ($20.58 basic wage + fringe benefits and “other”) in the San Francisco Bay Area and $38.02 ($19.58 + fringe benefits and “other”) in other counties of Northern California. These wages are based on the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the Northern California District Council of Laborers and Associated General Contractors (AGC) of California.

For Southern California, the Department of Industrial Relations sets the “prevailing wage” for the Group 1 classification of “Laborer, General Cleanup” at $45.93 ($28.09 + fringe benefits and “other”) This matches the claim made in the San Bernardino Sun article. This amount is based on the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the Southern California District Council of Laborers and three contractor associations – Associated General Contractors (AGC) of California, Building Industry Association (BIA) of Southern California, and the Southern California Construction Association:

In San Diego County, the state-mandated total straight time hourly “prevailing wage rate for a journeyman in the Group 1 classification of “Laborer, General Cleanup” for commercial building is $43.27. This amount is based on the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the Southern California District Council of Laborers for San Diego County and Associated General Contractors – San Diego Chapter.

I can’t imagine that the Laborers Union would permit employers to pay $12 per hour when its collective bargaining agreements includes the same work at far higher wages. I wasn’t able to find an exception to this rule in the collective bargaining agreements.

California Public Utilities Code Sections 465-467 require public utilities to pay prevailing wage rates for labor of a custodial or janitorial nature, and therefore the California Department of Industrial Relations determines state-mandated wage rates for this kind of work. These wages are about $12 per hour, but this is not construction work.

Alternative Strategies for Accurate Prevailing Wages on Construction Cleanup

Assemblyman Hagman is bringing public attention to the need for reform of California’s prevailing wage laws, as Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) did in 2012 with her bills to reform the definition of public works (Assembly Bill 987) and the method of calculating state-mandated construction wage rates (Assembly Bill 988). Based on the comments posted under the San Bernardino Sun article, some readers were disgusted about how they pay taxes so people can vacuum floors at $45 per hour (including fringe benefits and “other”).

But there’s no way lobbyists for the Laborers Union and the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California are going to let this bill pass out of committee. (They wouldn’t even pass Assemblywoman Shannon Grove’s Assembly Bill 1958, which increased the project cost threshold from $1000 to $2000 to match the federal Davis-Bacon threshold.) It will be defeated in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on a party-line vote: Democrats opposed, Republicans in support.

Interested parties that want to establish a reasonable wage rate for “vacuuming, dusting, cleaning and polishing windows, walls and floors” may want to use the authority of California Labor Code Section 1773.4 (see California Code of Regulations Title 8, Section 16302) and petition the Department of Industrial Relations for a prevailing wage determination on such work. The DIR could conduct a survey and/or refer to the wage rates set for janitors working for public utilities.

Another idea is for public agencies to narrowly define construction cleanup in their contracts with construction companies, so that the absurd $45 per hour straight time hourly wage applies to legitimate construction cleanup and not to vacuuming up dirt tracked in weeks later.

For more information on California’s state-mandated construction wage rate (“prevailing wage”) law, see Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions? Also, see Assembly Bill 987 and Assembly Bill 988 – two comprehensive prevailing wage reform bills for California from 2012.

$652,650 Contributed to Measure E Campaign: West Contra Costa Unified School District Seeks to Borrow Another $360 Million “For the Children of West County”

I obtained the paper copies of the campaign finance reports from the Contra Costa County Elections Office from October 1, 2012 through November 1, 2012 filed by the “For the Children of West County” campaign to convince voters to vote for Measure E. Measure E would authorize the school board of the West Contra Costa Unified School District to borrow another $360 million for construction by selling bonds to investors, thus adding $360 million plus interest payments to a $1.77 billion existing debt resulting from previous bond sales.

The total raised since the June 6, 2012 election by this committee as of November 1 is $652,650. It had $92,252 cash-on-hand as of October 20.

There are a few strange things in the October 20, 2012 report. First, the campaign refunded $15,000 to The Seville Group for a July 20, 2012 contribution, even as The Seville Group (aka SGI Construction Management) contributed another $7,500 on October 18. And the campaign refunded $25,000 to WLC Architects for an August 9, 2012 contibution, even as WLC Architects contributed another $5,000 on October 4.

There is also a mystery contribution – $20,000 on October 20 from “Moving Forward, 150 Post Street, Suite 405, San Francisco, CA 94108, ID#1348494.”

Moving Forward - Yes on Measure E Form 460 Campaign Report 2012-10-20 and Late 497

“Moving Forward” toward more than $2 billion in debt? Who thinks so?

There are no records available on the web about this organization; perhaps it filed something on paper with Contra Costa County. (There aren’t any electronic records from “Moving Forward” on the Contra Costa County Campaign Finance web site, either.)

Here’s the revised list of contributors to the campaign to convince voters to approve Measure E, allowing the board of the West Contra Costa Unified School District to borrow $360 million.

DONOR INTEREST AMOUNT
WLC Architects* Architect $175,000
Deems Lewis McKinley Architect $50,000
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 302 Construction trade union $35,000
Fred Powell, architect with Powell & Partners Architect $35,000
The Seville Group (now rebranded as SGI Construction Management)** Construction management $30,000
Quattrocchi Kwok Architects Architect $25,000
Moving Forward – based out of San Francisco-based law firm of Jim Sutton Unknown at this time: ID#1348494 not listed with California Secretary of State or San Francisco Ethics Commission $20,000
Hibser Yamauchi Architects Architect $20,000
Interactive Resources Architect $15,000
Baker Vilar Architects Architect $15,000
Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104 Construction trade union $10,000
Hamilton + Aiken Architects Architect $10,000
Lathrop Construction Associates Construction contractor $10,000
Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Construction trade union $10,000
Orbach Huff & Suarez Law firm for school districts $10,000
District Council of Ironworkers of the State of California and Vicinity Construction trade union $7,500
Employers’ Advocate Construction labor relations $7,500
HMC Architects Architect $6,950
Northern California District Council of Laborers Construction trade union $5,000
California Teachers Association Teachers’ union $5,000
Interface Engineering Engineering $5,000
GCR Law firm for school districts $5,000
Jack Schrader & Associates Consultant for developer fees $5,000
John P. Grossman and Associates Architect $5,000
KNN Public Finance School financing consultant $5,000
Powell & Partners Architect $5,000
Amanco Construction management $5,000
Atkinson Andelson Loya Ruud & Romo Law firm, works for WCCUSD $5,000
AE3 Partners Architect, engineering $5,000
AEKO Consulting Information technology installation $5,000
Matthew Pettler, executive with School Facility Consultants School finance consultant $4,500
Kam Yan & Associates Engineers $4,500
Davillier-Sloan Construction labor relations $4,000
Arcala Land Company Affiliated in some way with Davillier-Sloan $4,000
Carducci & Associates Architect $3,500
CBX Technologies Information technology installation $3,000
Brelje & Race Consulting Civil Engineers Engineering $2,500
Cal Communication Service Company Construction contractor $2,500
[United Association of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Union No. 159] TRICO Pipe Union-affiliated labor-management cooperation committee $2,500
Northern California Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association Unionized construction contractor trade association $2,500
Del Monte Electric Construction contractor $2,500
H&M Mechanical Group Engineering $2,500
O’Mahony & Myer Engineering $2,500
ZFA Structural Engineers Engineering $2,500
Contra Costa County Electrical Industry Trust Union-affiliated labor-management cooperation committee $1,500
Vallier Design Associates Architect (landscape) $1,500
Total School Solutions School district administration consultant $1,500
Thornton Tomasetti Engineering $1,500
Sprinkler Fitters & Apprentices Local Union No. 483 Construction trade union $1,250
WHM Engineering $1,200
Cammisa and Wipf Consulting Engineers Engineering $1,000
15000 Incorporated Engineering $1,000
Bay Area Consulting Engineers (BAC Engineers) Engineering $1,000
Skinner for Assembly 2012 Politician $1,000
Kleinfelder West Engineering $1,000
ISSA Structural Engineering Engineering $1,000
McCracken & Woodman Engineering $1,000
Mechanical Design Studio Engineering $1,000
PMC School finance consultant $1,000
Security by Design Engineering $1,000
Cornerstone Structural Engineering Group Engineering $750
David L. Gates & Associates Architect $500
Brokaw Consulting Electrical Engineering Engineering $500
Bricklayers & Allied Craftsworkers Local Union No. 3 Construction trade union $500
Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard Law firm for school districts $500
Ingraham DeJesse Associates Engineering $500
Miller & Associates Construction contractor? $500
Sally Swanson Architects Architect $500
Alexander Murdoch, executive with School Facility Consultants School finance consultant $500
Luk and Associates Engineering $300
SOHA Engineers Engineering $250
RGA Environmental Hazmat consultant $250
Willie Robinson Construction management $250
Alan Kroop & Associates Engineering $250
Ninyo & Moore Engineering $100
KPFF – San Francisco Engineering $100
Not itemized $0
TOTAL $652,650

Sources: contributions since the June 5, 2012 election for the period ending June 30, 2012the period ending September 30, 2012, and the period ending October 20, 2012 with one late contribution.

Who Defeated the City of Auburn’s Proposed Charter, and How Was It Done? (Answer: Three Union Entities, by Spending $56.40 Per NO Vote)

Tonight I spoke during public comment at the Auburn City Council meeting to encourage the five city council members after last week’s defeat of Measure A, a proposed charter for the City of Auburn. I’m sure it was frustrating for them to see 65% of city voters reject an ordinary, reasonable proposal to shift government authority from the state to the local level.

Measure A lost on a vote of 1409 to 748 in the June 5, 2012 election.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, construction unions derailed the proposed charter for the City of Auburn using the same methodology used to defeat the proposed charter for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes in an election on March 8, 2011. In both cases, professional, experienced, and well-funded regional union political operations overwhelmed a local grassroots movement. (In Rancho Palos Verdes, 69% of voters rejected the charter after the unions flooded the city’s voters with deceptive mailers.)

The campaign in support of Measure A scraped together $8,671.00, mostly in small contributions from Auburn residents and local businesses. They spent $2,200 on advertising in the Auburn Journal newspaper and printed some flyers and campaign signs. Nothing unusual for a local campaign in a city with a total population of 13,300.

Meanwhile, as seen in this campaign finance report and this campaign finance report, three union entities contributed a total of $75,000 (plus $4,463.83 in non-monetary contributions) to the campaign opposing Measure A, as a result spending $56.40 per NO vote to defeat the proposed charter. The ratio of union spending (in opposition to Measure A) to local spending (in support of Measure A) was 9 to 1.

The steamrolling was so bad in Auburn that the union opponents of the proposed charter spent more than twice as much on legal/accounting services ($17,618.20 billed by Olson, Hagel & Fishburn LLP) than the local Measure A supporters raised for their entire campaign ($8,671.00).

There were only three donations to the campaign against Measure A, which would have enacted a charter that included provisions allowing the city to establish its own government-mandated construction wage rates (“prevailing wages”) for municipal construction and permanently exempt the city from potential state requirements that volunteer labor be paid at state-mandated wage rates.

Here is an analysis of the three contributions to “Preserve Auburn, No on Measure A, sponsored by California Alliance for Jobs” campaign:

1. $25,000 from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local No. 3, which represents union workers who operate equipment such as excavators and cranes in Northern California.

This contribution appears to come from the union’s general fund. (It is classified in the campaign finance report as “Other” and not as a political committee.) According to its Form LM-2 for 2011 filed with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards, the multi-state Operating Engineers Local No. 3 had total receipts in 2011 of $41,851,469. It spent $630,837 on political activities and lobbying. This union spent more than twice as much in 2011 at Give Something Back Office Supplies ($62,285) than it did against Measure A in 2012.

So what is the typical state-mandated wage rate for an operating engineer in Auburn? The state sets the wage package for a bulldozer driver in the City of Auburn (Group 4, Area 1) at a straight time total rate of $62.00 per hour$37.15 + $24.12 in fringe benefits + $0.73 for “Other.”

2. $25,000 from the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Issues Political Action Committee (PAC). (The Carpenters also reported $4,463.83 in web site development expenditures against Measure A.)

According to its latest Form 460 filed with the California Secretary of State, this PAC started the year with $223,739.45 and collected another $72,340.12 in 2012, up to May 19. It had money to burn for a campaign in Auburn.

So what is the typical state-mandated wage rate for a carpenter in Auburn? The state sets the wage package for a basic carpenter in the City of Auburn (Area 3) at a straight time total rate of $56.60 per hour$31.62 + $22.69 in fringe benefits + $2.29 for “Other.”

3. $25,000 from the California Alliance for Jobs, an example of an arcane type of union trust authorized by the obscure Labor-Management Cooperation Act of 1978, a law signed by President Jimmy Carter and implemented by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Inspired by the decline of unionized manufacturing in the Northeast, this federal law was meant to help industrial management and union officials build better personal relationships and cooperate against the threat of outside competition. There are no federal or state regulations specifically addressed toward these trusts, and these trusts do not have any reporting requirements to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. (Another example of this kind of trust is the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust, explained in my past blog posts here and here.)

Collective bargaining agreements for the Laborers and the Operating Engineers in Northern California include mandatory employer payments to the California Alliance for Jobs trust based on hours worked by trade workers represented by those unions. Those payments are incorporated into the state’s construction wage rates (“prevailing wages”) in the Other component established in 2003 through Senate Bill 868 (signed into law in 2003 by soon-to-be-recalled Governor Gray Davis) as California Labor Code Section 1773.1(a)(7-9).

The latest available IRS Form 990 for the California Alliance for Jobs (for 2010) indicates expenses of $2,391,938, including $685,000 in lobbying and political expenditures. So $25,000 sent to a campaign in the City of Auburn is peanuts to this group.

As a major participant in the California Alliance for Jobs, the Northern California District Council of Laborers must be included as the third construction trade union that opposed Measure A.

So what is the typical state-mandated wage rate for a laborer in Auburn? The state sets the wage package for someone holding a stop/slow sign at a road site in the City of Auburn (Group 3, Area 2) at a straight time total rate of $42.93 per hour$25.89 + $16.91 in fringe benefits + $0.13 for “Other.”

Perhaps these wage rates accurately reflect the true prevailing wage rates in Auburn, and Auburn taxpayers are getting their money’s worth when they pay for purely municipal construction performed under these rates. Perhaps it is reasonable to require businesses to make their contractors pay these rates on private construction projects that receive any sort of city financial assistance.

But shouldn’t that be a decision for the Auburn City Council, rather than the California State Legislature and the Division of Labor Statistics and Research (DLSR) in San Francisco?

Tonight I urged the Auburn City Council to prepare another proposed charter, and this time don’t make it typical, ordinary, and reasonable. Develop a manifesto of local control against the power of the state government and the special interests that control it. Offend every group in Sacramento. And then bring it before the voters of Auburn.

I don’t think the people of Auburn will be fooled again, especially if the supporters of the charter abandon the low-key grassroots operation and fight fire with fire in Round Two.