Republican lawmaker touts bill pushed by labor bullies

Feb. 21, 2013

By Chris Reed

You don’t have to be a union hater to be amazed at all the different ways labor decides to make its Sacramento puppets jump through hoops. The latest example is legislation that would require charter cities to use “prevailing wage” policies on construction projects in which any state funds were used. Last spring, the Legislature passed a law banning charter cities with PLA bans from receiving state funds for construction projects in a heavy-handed attempt to persuade San Diego voters to reject an anti-PLA measure on the June ballot. The bullying didn’t work.

css_ban_cannellaBut the latest example of labor power-flexing has a bipartisan flavor. A GOPer is co-sponsoring the bill along with a top Dem, and he’s touting union myths in the doing. This is from the press release announcing the legislation:

“(Sacramento) – Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) will co-author a measure on prevailing wage to increase middle-class jobs, sustain a skilled workforce, and ensure cost efficient and high quality public works projects. Senate Bill 7 would make charter cities eligible to receive or use state funds for a public works project only if the city has a policy of requiring contractors on all its municipal projects to comply with the State’s prevailing wage law. The bill is sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO. ….

“’As a civil engineer and former mayor, I am proud to co-author SB 7. It is important that we close this loophole that allows certain firms to game the system. Those firms know that they can marginally undercut prevailing wage to win a contract,’ said Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres).

“Several economic studies show that prevailing wage contracts save tax dollars through higher productivity, better quality workmanship, and a faster rate of project completion.”

Cannella puts lipstick on a pig

Yes, prevailing wage isn’t the same thing as a PLA, and sometimes isn’t nearly as onerous. Still, prevailing wage is just one more way that organized labor tries to distort wages — to push up compensation from what the free market would pay.

But Cannella won’t admit this. Instead, he makes the same claim that is made for PLAs: that it is good for everyone if a contractor for a construction project is forced to pay workers more.

Oh, please. Businesses act in rational ways. Those that want to maintain good images for the long haul don’t cut corners or cut costs mindlessly. If there were a business model in the construction industry that showed a “prevailing wage” job scale led to better results, business owners would flock to it. That’s how capitalism works. (The construction business owners that do adopt high-wage models in California do so because they know state politicians whom they contribute money to will force jobs their way. That’s how Sacramento works.)

So Cannella shouldn’t have to force this policy onto charter cities if prevailing wage is a win-win on all fronts. But that’s what he’s trying to do — while mouthing union talking points.

I’m sure my old pal Bob Huff is just thrilled about this.




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  1. econprof
    econprof 21 February, 2013, 15:37

    Cannella should be banished from the ranks of Republicans if he is serious about this. Of course businesses do their best to minimize costs and maximize quality when they decide on pay, fringe benefits, methods of production, etc. Whenever government intervenes to dictate to them, efficiency suffers, and the customer (here, taxpayers) pay more to get less. When the left picks off one of ours–a so-called Republican–we learn again how duplicitous they are, and wasteful of the public’s money.

    Reply this comment
  2. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 21 February, 2013, 19:33

    I prefer PLA’s, but a statewide Prevailing Wage requirement would be an excellent policy decision. If a city wants state funding for its projects, it shouldn’t be able to direct the contracts to the lowball scab operators who would love nothing more than to pay their employees minimum wage or less if they could get away with it. That may fly as a take no prisoners business policy, but it’s bad public policy.

    Reply this comment
    NTHEOC 21 February, 2013, 20:09

    Chris reed,
    You should be the spokesmen for WALMART!!!! Their policy on pay and benefits is right up your ally…

    Reply this comment
  4. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 21 February, 2013, 20:11

    Skipping (Away From Reality) Dog……….

    As I am sure you pay twice what your neighbors pay to have your lawn mowed.

    And at the drive through at Burger King: “$4.99 plus tax you say? Balderdash!……that’s not enough….Here….Please charge me $8.99 plus tax. Ahhhh….that’s it……..I feel SOOOOO much better about myself!”

    Reply this comment
  5. Donkey
    Donkey 22 February, 2013, 06:36

    Ahh, the “prevailing wage” issue. I would have to say it helped create the American middle-class and has given non-government retirement to millions of Americans. Without it constuction conpanies would have imported all their labor from any number of nations(India, China), not just Mexico. It was a good idea back in the day, but like all good ideas, it has become twisted. Much like what the RAGWUS has done with its pay and benefit packages the manner in which the PW is calculated has become perverted.

    In the RAGWUS the notion that the county or city average pay, perks, pensions, and benefits was the starting point for all positions in a non-wealth creating workforce is absurd, but that is the reality of how a RAGWUS feeder is valued. And this is how prevailing wage for government contracts is also arrived at, it is not based on actual costs, but on the average of what the local area construction jobs are paying, and these numbers are derived from an appointed labor board filled with union folk. I believe in paying a person a fair wage, one where they can afford to pay their way through life, but not every job is in that category, such as fast food, however the PW costs are out of control and the RAGWUS has a lot to do with it becoming a cancer to business, as the RAGWUS has resulted. 🙂

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  6. ExPFCWintergreen
    ExPFCWintergreen 22 February, 2013, 09:04

    Looks like Cannella is trying to continue to earn the prevailing wages of the Senate beyond 2014

    Reply this comment
  7. He doesn't know his own district
    He doesn't know his own district 22 February, 2013, 11:37

    Cannella represents the Central Valley and the Salinas Valley where cost-of-living and market wage rates are well below the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. A lot of cities in these regions exempt their local projects from state prevailing wage. If Cannella’s bill becomes law, it will encourage unemployed union workers to travel to Central Valley and the Salinas Valley for work, because they can compete against locals without compromising their wage rates. This bill works against Cannella’s own constituents.

    Reply this comment
  8. The Pro-Union Republicans Are Back!
    The Pro-Union Republicans Are Back! 22 February, 2013, 11:58

    Brent Granlund, Anthony Pescetti, Ken Maddox, Anthony Cannella.

    Reply this comment
  9. Mrs. White
    Mrs. White 22 February, 2013, 14:14

    The trades unions will be one of the agencies that will bring upon this earth a time of trouble such as has not been since the world began. [Daniel 12:1] In all our great cities there will be a binding up in bundles by the confederacies and unions formed. Men will rule other men and demand much of them. The lives of those who refuse to unite with these unions, will be in peril.

    The work of the people of God is to prepare for the events of the future, which will soon come upon them with blinding force. In the world gigantic monopolies will be formed. Men will bind themselves together in unions that will wrap them in the folds of the enemy. A few men will combine to grasp all the means to be obtained in certain lines of business. Trades unions will be formed, and those who refuse to join these unions will be marked men.

    These unions are one of the signs of the last days. Men are binding up in bundles ready to be burned. They may be church members, but while they belong to these unions, they cannot possibly keep the commandments of God; for to belong to these unions means to disregard the entire Decalogue.
    Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” . . . How can men obey these words, and form combinations that rob the poorer classes of the advantages which justly belong to them, preventing them from buying or selling, except under certain conditions.

    Those who claim to be the children of God are in no case to bind up with the labor unions that are formed or that shall be formed. This the Lord forbids. Cannot those who study the prophecies see and understand what is before us?
    Important issues must soon be met, and we wish to be hid in the cleft of the rock, that we may see Jesus, and be quickened by His Holy Spirit. We have no time to lose, not a moment. Maranatha p. 182

    Reply this comment
  10. PW_watcher
    PW_watcher 22 February, 2013, 14:46

    You didn’t quite capture what the bill does. Charter cities HAVE to pay prevailing wages on projects funded in part by the State. What SB 7 does is cut off state funding for a charter city with a provision which permits them to use their own wage system – on city funded projects – if that system would result in wages lower than the state’s prevailing wages (which are set by the union CBAs). It is designed to PUNISH charter cities and their voters who have sought to control their OWN city projects – a principal that was recently upheld by the State Supreme Court in the Vista case. This isn’t a “loophole” as Cannella (a union member – something he proudly admits) suggests or that it is a “game” that “certain firms” exploit. It is pure and simple, another example of State officials usurping the rights of local taxpayers to determine how they will conduct their constitutional right to manage their municipal affairs. Cannella is running for re-election and is paying homage to the construction unions in hopes, apparently, he can eek out another win. All one needs to do is take a micro-economics class and see what happens when you have wage “floors” – fewer people work with much higher wages than you would see if the market were to control. Higher wages for Cannella’s union cronies and less construction for Cannella’s constituent tax-payers!

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