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Pair of Assembly Bills to Protect the Prevailing Wage Move Through California Committee

In California, two bills that would protect and expand the state’s prevailing wage law have been approved by their House committees. Both bills were sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council and moved through along party lines with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed.

The two bills are:

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. Historically, the Department of Industrial Relations has defined any project for which public funding is less than 1.64% of the total value as “de minimis,” and therefore not subject to prevailing wage. However, on large projects valued in the tens of millions of dollars, that percentage still results in large public expenditures. AB 302 defines “de minimis” as less than one percent of the total project cost and less than $10,000. That will ensure that workers on large projects with significant government dollars, even if a small percentage of the overall cost, will earn prevailing wage. AB 302 was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Assembly Bill 1140 by Assembly Member Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, would require that any change made to prevailing wage take effect immediately on all public works projects. This is necessary because sometimes there is a lag of several years between the time a project is advertised for bid and when construction starts, and therefore the prevailing wage at the time of the bid is less than the prevailing wage at the time of construction. This bill would ensure construction workers entitled to the current prevailing wage in fact earn it. AB 1140 was approved by the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee.

The prevailing wage is receiving increased attention in 2013, in California especially. In addition to these positive assembly outcomes, both the Democratic Party and the BCTC are digging in for SB7, a bill that would prevent California charter cities from receiving public funds if they eliminate the prevailing wage. During their state convention last week the Democratic Party of California vowed to make SB7 a priority this legislative year.


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