Building Trades' Legislation Advances Through Committees
June 18, 2013 - Protecting Workers’ Wages - Three important State Building Trades sponsored bills designed to protect workers’ wages advanced through policy committees in the past week. The measures had all previously been approved by either the Senate or Assembly, and are now moving through their second house.
Senate Bill 311, by Senator Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, was approved by the Assembly Local Government Committee. This measure is aimed at protecting prevailing wage by requiring that charter city conversion elections be held in a statewide general election, thereby increasing voter participation in the conversion decision. This protects workers from the tactic of passing conversion measures in lower turnout elections, and charter cities later exempting themselves from prevailing wage.
Assembly Bill 1336, by Assembly member Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, was approved by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee. It lengthens the statute of limitations for civil actions for recovering wages lost due to prevailing wage violations from the current 180 days, to two years. This change will allow for adequate time for a legal remedy for workers cheated of wages they are owed, because victims of wage theft are often underpaid for years on multiple projects and come forward only when their employment with the contractor ends.
Senate Bill 776, by Senator Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, was approved by the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. It prevents anti-union groups and contractors from taking earnings from workers’ paychecks to fund sham labor compliance committees. It does so by specifying that such payments are not bona fide fringe benefits that can be applied against prevailing wage requirements, unless the payments are made to joint labor-management programs as defined by the federal Labor Management Cooperation Act of 1978. This will guarantee that workers have a say in how their own money is used on their behalf, and will protect their paychecks from anti-worker groups who utilize this loophole to use the workers’ money against the workers’ own best interests.
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