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  • WA Building Trades 2018 Legislative re-cap

     

    March 9, 2018

     

     

    2018 Legislative Session Recap
    Last night, March 8th, the 2018 legislative session came to an end.  Thanks to the involvement of affiliates, the construction labor lobby team, contractor partners, and our allies within the legislature, this session has been a very successful one for our members. 

     

    Leadership
    Under great pressure to demonstrate that they know how to govern the new Democratic majority this session has provided some outstanding leadership at every level in both chambers.  Starting with Senator Karen Keiser and Representative Mike Sells, both as Chair of their respective labor committees, we saw a surge of legislation managed and prioritized expertly as they dealt with five years of built up labor policies.  Both members were champions of our legislative priorities and advocated for them after they were passed from committee and advanced to the chamber floor.  House Speaker Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson were under even greater pressure to manage the backlog of bills that collected to compete for limited floor debate time.  In both cases, with the help of members including Senator Marko Liias, Representative Timm Ormsby, Senator Steve Conway, Representative Beth Doglio, Senator Steve Hobbs, Representative Marcus Ricceli, Senator Curtis King, and Representative Melanie Stambaugh, all of the below priority bills were passed.

     

    While the above mentioned elected officials provided excellent leadership and cooperation concerning our Building Trades Legislative priorities, we cannot forget the outstanding work and effort provided to each of them from their respective staff. Many of them through their work ethic would be welcome additions on any of our construction projects, their dedication, innovation and commitment to providing the necessary resources to the elected officials resulted in outcomes that will greatly benefit our members for years to come.

     

    Partners
    Many of the priority bills passed this session received a significant bi-partisan vote and were moved more quickly due to collaborative work with business stakeholders.  The Mechanical Contractors Association worked with the Building Trades, in some cases testifying side by side in support, to advance multiple priority bills.  The Associated General Contractors also worked closely with our lobby team through testimony and securing votes.  The National Electrical Contractors Association helped work two priority bills, as did the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association.

     

     

    HB 1723 Hanford worker health—sponsored by Representative Larry Haler
    Senate: 35 to 14       House: 74 to 21

    The Hanford energy worker occupational disease bill, signed into law Wednesday, creates a "presumption of causation" in state law, which assumes that some Hanford workers who become ill are sick because of the many chemicals that pollute the site.

    This means Hanford workers, including contractors and subcontractors, who have become ill will not have to prove the exact chemical or toxin that caused their illness.  An estimated 1,500 chemicals have been found in Hanford's underground tanks that are vented into the air above ground.

     

    Hanford workers are now able to file or refile for workers comp benefits and their case will considered under the umbrella that the worker is presumed to have worked in a contaminated environment that could have caused their illness. Claims can be filed anytime within the worker's lifetime because the effects of exposure may take years to develop. While many worked on this issue, Randy Walli and Nickolas Bumpaous of UA Local 598 championed this from the start. This is an extremely gratifying success as injured and ill Hanford site workers for years will benefit from this piece of Legislation.

     

    SB 5493 CBA prevailing wage—sponsored by Senator Steve Conway
    Senate: 32 to 15       House: 70 to 28

    This bill in its current form has been in the making for five years and represents a considerable victory toward the improvement of our state prevailing wage system.  With this law, the current survey system will be replaced with the straight adoption of CBA rates where they exist (the vast majority of the state).  We will no longer need to invest resources in the blitz to report wages and the same relief will be felt by contractors that have been party to the surveys.  L&I will also be able to redirect their resources from the costly process and spend more time focused on enforcement instead.

     

    Our office is currently developing a letter that will be sent to all affiliates with information on the transition to this new system and what may be needed from the labor side.

     

    HB 1849: Apprenticeship Utilization—sponsored by Representative Mike Sells
    Senate: 37 to 12       House: 97 to 0

    Here we have the first compliance bill passed since the apprenticeship utilization law came into effect in 2005.  The law includes the use of an incentive/penalty on contracts awarded based on AU performance.  The tool is somewhat experimental and will require monitoring as it phases into implementation, but it is a step in the right direction and HB 1849 adds further value through clarification of AU performance reporting.  The responsibility of awarding agencies for reporting AU to L&I is detailed and the law flags the contractor portal of the L&I website as a place for contractors to report apprenticeship hours.  Data collection will be key to next steps establishing penalties if the incentive/penalty system under HB 1849 does not produce results.

     

    HB 1673: Contractor training—sponsored by Representative Beth Doglio
    Senate: 31 to 17       House: 63 to 35

    This bill requires new contractors bidding on public works to complete a training on prevailing wage law as a part of the responsible bidder statute.  A contractor is exempt from the training requirement if they have had a contracting business license for three years or more and performed work on three or more public works projects.  The curriculum for this training will be developed by L&I and can be conducted by other organizations if the materials and content are approved by L&I.

     

    The goal of this legislation is to ensure that the laws are being complied with from the start of a construction project rather than engaging in a costly legal battle to ensure that workers are paid appropriately.  Additionally, a universal training will make it harder for contractors to claim ignorance of the law and make it easier for L&I to identify willful misconduct.

     

    HB 1672: Recovering wages & PW determinations—sponsored by Representative Noel Frame
    Senate: 38 to 11       House: 98 to 0

    This legislation ensures that a worker is still able to recover any wages owed to them despite the amount of time that it may take to get a final prevailing wage determination.  The law (39.12.015) provides for an avenue for agencies, contractors, workers, and other interested parties to be able to ask questions of L&I through their Industrial Statistician when they need a prevailing wage determination.  This process is separate and apart from filing a wage complaint, and by its nature is less adversarial.  Unfortunately, some of these tend to take quite a bit of time through the various levels of due process and could end up in the courts. 

     

    Meanwhile a worker’s 3-year statute of limitations could run out by the time a final decision is rendered and they are unable to recover their lost wages if the decision was in their favor.  This law puts that clock on hold and allows the determination process to work as designed without the possibility of the process timing out the ultimate remedy. 

     

    Finally, while the work for the 2018 Legislative Session has been completed, we are already in gear for the 2019 Session. Just as we celebrated a huge win with the CBA Prevailing Wage Bill (5493) for about five minutes then went right back to work that evening, we now focus on 2019, 2020 and beyond.

     

    Many thanks to the Building Trades Lobbying team of Neil Hartman, Billy Wallace, Josh Swanson, Cody Arledge, Tim Herbert, Matthew Hepner, Nickolas Bumpaous, Michelle Frisk, Leanne Guier, Nathe Lawver, and Gordon Baxter. Your cooperation and efforts served our membership extremely well. These legislative victories belong to all of you.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    Mark L. Riker, Executive Secretary

    Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council

    (360) 522-6844

     

    opeiu8/afl-cio

     

     

     

    **********************************

    Cheri Bookheimer, Administrative Secretary

    Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council

    906 Columbia St SW #107

    Olympia, WA  98501

    360-357-6778

    360-357-6783 fax

    opeiu8/afl-cio

     

    Visit our website:  www.wabuildingtrades.org

     




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