Republican lawmaker touts bill pushed by labor bullies

by CalWatchdog Staff | February 21, 2013 11:00 am

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[1] 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[2] (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.



  1. heavy-handed attempt:
  2. Anthony Cannella:

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