State Senate Approves Two SBCTC Bills to Protect and Expand Prevailing Wage
September 3, 2013 - Two important bills, sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, to protect and expand construction workers’ right to earn prevailing wage on public works projects won approval from the state Senate today. Both bills must now return to the Assembly for concurrence in Senate amendments before reaching the governor’s desk.
Assembly Bill 302, authored by Assembly member Ed Chau, D-Alhambra, defines “de minimis” for the purpose of determining when projects are exempt from prevailing wage because the government’s investment is relatively small. The problem this bill addresses is when public funding may be a relatively small share of a very large project, so that the public expenditure, while a fraction of the total spending, is nonetheless significant. AB 302 defines “de minimis” expenditures exempt from the prevailing wage as less than one percent of the total project cost and less than $25,000. This will ensure that workers on large projects with significant government dollars, even if a small percentage of the overall cost, will earn prevailing wage. As the law exists today, a public expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars can still be de minimus, and non-prevailing wage. The bill was approved by the Senate on a 24-11 vote, including a yes vote from one Republican, Senator Anthony Cannella of Ceres.
Assembly Bill 1336, by Assembly member Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, lengthens the statute of limitations for civil actions and for the Labor Commissioner to recover wages lost due to prevailing wage violations from the current 180 days, to 18 months. 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. This bill will also level the playing field for contractors that do not cheat their workers. This bill was approved on a 25-11 vote.
SBCTC President Robbie Hunter commented: “We are fighting every day to make sure our workers earn the prevailing wage they deserve on all publicly funded projects. The unified efforts of our local councils, affiliates and workers are the key to our success.”
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