2017: A strong year for local Labor

By Sheri Williams

As the year draws to a close, local Labor has a strong list of accomplishments in 2017 that have increased the power of unions in Sacramento and protected the rights and strength of local working families.

“Despite what’s happening on the national front, here in Sacramento we have a lot to be proud of,” said Sacramento Central Labor Council Executive Director Fabrizio Sasso. “More than ever, this Labor Council and our union allies across the region have shown that with solidarity and commitment, we can make change.”

Kevin Ferreira, executive director of the Sacramento-Sierra Building & Construction Trades Council, said that the construction industry is thriving in the area and will continue to grow in the coming year. Building Trades workers are in demand, and many are working under new Project Labor Agreements.

“We are really seeing the construction industry boom in Sacramento,” said Ferreira. “Our members are hard at work building the region’s future.”

Below are some of the top accomplishments for both the Sacramento Central Labor Council and the Building Trades this year.

SACRAMENTO-SIERRA CONSTRUCTION & BUILDING TRADES 2017 HIGHLIGHTS

Project Labor Agreement for Wilton Rancheria Casino and Resort: One of the most notable projects coming up is the recently approved casino in Elk Grove by the Wilton Rancheria Miwok tribe. This $400 million project will be done under a Project Labor Agreement, meaning SSB&CT members will get the pay, benefits and working conditions they deserve to build the best structures with the highest standards. The 36-acre site is expected to break ground around summer of next year and includes plans for a 608,756-square-foot complex that includes a 12-story 302-room hotel with a pool, spa and convention center. The site will also have six restaurants and bars and a large 110,260-square-foot gambling area.

Project Labor Agreement renewed for Sacramento Unified School District: Sacramento City Unified School District worked closely with the Building Trades to amend its existing PLA to include projects costing $500,000 or more. Previously, the agreement only covered larger projects with a budget of more than $1 million. The new threshold will ensure that local schools are built and renovated to the highest standards. The Building Trades also will continue to work with the District to provide training and internships for local teenagers interested in learning about the construction industry.

Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act passes: This measure raises $5.2 billion a year to fund road repair, construction and other transportation projects throughout the state. With California’s highways in perilous condition after decades of neglect, the new funding provides much-needed infrastructure investments that will help the state grow economically. Many projects are already in the pipeline, and construction crews will likely be busy for years to come making sure bridges, overpasses and roads are repaired and maintained.

Assembly Bill 1701 passes: This new legislation provides important protections for those in the construction industry. It allows construction workers who haven’t been paid for a job to seek back wages and benefits, with interest, from the general contractor, even if they did not work directly for that company on the project. That means general contractors must take responsibility for the wage theft of their subcontractors.

SACRAMENTO CENTRAL LABOR COUNCIL TOP TEN 2017 HIGHLIGHTS

Labor Day events expand into action: For the first year, the Sacramento Central Labor Council expanded its annual Labor Day picnic into a full-day of labor actions and events. Activists began the day with a Fight for $15 rally in West Sacramento. That action drew hundreds of people from a variety of related organizations, highlighting a strong commitment from Sacramento Labor to build dialogue and community with social justice causes throughout the region.

“It was that whole idea of coming together around the issues,” said Margarita Maldonado, president of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, at a recent delegates meeting. “It was really an emotional day to see so many organizations come together because that is what Labor Day is really about.”

Sacramento teachers win a new contract: After months of negotiating and with a strike only days away, Sacramento’s 2,800 teachers won a new contract from the District that helps students and makes wages competitive with surrounding districts. The new contract gives teachers up to an 11 percent raise over three years. The last-minute accord was brokered in part by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

“This is us coming together with the District, with the direct involvement of the superintendent, to put the District on a much more viable, progressive path forward for the first time in a long time,” union leader John Borsos told The Sacramento Bee. “It will put Sac City on the pathway to becoming a destination district.”

Central Labor Council voter registration drive kicks off: The Sacramento Central Labor Council launched a massive voter registration drive this year ahead of the 2018 elections. The push is meant to register more union households to vote by connecting them with other union members in face-to-face discussion. Union members are going door-to-door in places like Elk Grove to “help working families across the region understand our shared goals and shared values,” said CLC executive director Fabrizio Sasso. Currently the effort has 30 organizers on the ground. By the end of the year, we will have registered 2,700+ new voters and have 4,000 pledge cards from voters in the Sacramento region to vote union and working family values in 2018.

SCLC joins with activists to protect free speech: Labor members joined with local activists this fall to stop a proposed city ordinance that would have curtailed free speech and our ability to stage protests. The proposed ordinance would have limited amplified speech around homes—including those downtown and in midtown where many events take place. Union members spoke out, and the City Council dropped the measure.

Labor Peace secured for new public projects: Working with the Building Trades and local unions, the SCLC helped secure Labor Peace at the Convention Center, Memorial Auditorium and the Community Center Theater, ensuring Sacramento workers will have access to union contracts.

Progressive Labor Slate sweeps Assembly Delegate elections: A full slate of progressive Labor Democrats was elected to represent the local interests of working families after a tough campaign.

The SCLC launched our new website: The new site provides up-to-date information and a calendar of events.

The SCLC successfully partnered with grassroots groups: The Council joined with Indivisible and other grassroots community groups and helped organize and foster the #RESISTance in the Sacramento Region.

Political candidates learned about Labor: The SCLC successfully executed the largest Labor 101 Candidate and Citizen Academy, with over 80 participants in attendance.

New politicians were made: Candidates for future elections were trained in the SCLC Emerge Candidate Training.

LEGISLATIVE WINS FOR CALIFORNIA LABOR

Healthcare Access and Cost Containment

SB 17 (Hernandez): Requires pharmaceutical companies to provide 60 days advance notice and a justification before raising a drug price more than 16 percent over two years.

Right to Organize and Improve Working Conditions

AB 119 (Budget): Allows unions to participate in public sector new employee orientations so workers learn about their contract and benefits.

SB 306 (Hertzberg): Protects workers who are fired for being whistleblowers by allowing them to seek immediate reinstatement based on the chilling effect the firing would have on the entire workforce.

AB 134 (Budget): Requires that any electric vehicle manufacturer receiving public subsidies under the cap and trade program be certified by the state as a fair and responsible employer and prohibits the use of public funds for fully automated port equipment that eliminates jobs.

AB 83 (Santiago): Gives Judicial Council employees the right to organize.

AB 670 (Thurmond): Makes part-time playground workers part of classified workforce.

SB 201 (Skinner): Gives 14,000 Research Assistants (RAs) at the UC the right to organize.

Wage Theft & Workers Rights

SB 96 (Budget): Adds 82 new positions and $11.4 million over the next two years to the Labor Commissioner’s enforcement budget to crack down on underground economy abuses. Provides new tools for improving labor law enforcement and allowed Labor Commissioner to levy penalties on public agencies that knowingly hire unregistered contractors and subcontractors.

AB 1701 (Thurmond): Ensures workers get paid by holding general contractors liable when a subcontractor fails to pay wages.

SB 550 (Pan): Creates incentives for school employers to settle legitimate wage claims by school employees rather than create needless delays.

AB 603 (Quirk-Silva): Gives family childcare providers tools to ensure they are paid fairly such as access to direct deposit and notification of changes to subsidies.

Protect Immigrant Workers

AB 450 (Chiu): Requires that immigration enforcement agents have a judicial warrant before entering a business to detain workers and a subpoena before accessing worker records.

AB 699 (O’Donnell): Protects students, parents and school employees by creating standards and safety protocols to prevent immigration enforcement actions at school facilities.

AB 21 (Kalra): Protects undocumented college students by restricting immigration enforcement on campus, providing healthcare access, and maintaining DACA financial aid.

SB 54 (de Leon): Protects community safety by limiting local law enforcement from cooperating in immigration enforcement.

Put Labor Standards on Public Funds

AB 199 (Chu): Ensures that projects receiving public funding from redevelopment successor agencies are subject to prevailing wage so workers are paid fairly.

AB 1066 (Aguiar-Curry): Adds tree removal work to the definition of public works to ensure those workers get paid prevailing wage.

Infrastructure/Cap & Trade

SB 1 (Beall): Raises $52 billion for street and highway repairs and maintenance over ten years by increasing the gas and diesel tax.

AB 398 (E. Garcia)/AB 617 (C. Garcia): Extends cap and trade program to ensure California meets its SB 32 emission reduction targets and improve air quality for communities most affected by pollution.

AB 109 (Budget): Invests significant new resources into state and local firefighting services to prevent and prepare for increased fire risk created by climate change.

Housing

SB 2 (Atkins): Creates a permanent funding source for affordable housing with a $75 fee on financial transactions on property such as refinances.

SB 3 (Beall): Authorizes a housing bond for $4 billion to fund existing affordable housing programs.

SB 35 (Weiner)/AB 73 (Chiu)/SB 540 (Roth): Allows streamlining for certain housing developments with prevailing wage and skilled workforce requirements.

Expand Worker Health & Safety

AB 55 (Thurmond): Requires refineries to disclose contracts they claim are exempt from skilled and trained workforce requirements to state agencies.

SB 432 (Pan): Requires county health officers to immediately notify emergency medical personnel if they have been exposed to a communicable disease while transporting a patient.

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