From the Desk of Gary Peifer:

Brothers and Sisters:

As we say goodbye to 2016, I am reminded of what most members are calling, “a whirlwind year”. Together, we accomplished many things that are moving our Union forward in time. We were blessed with a strong increase in work hours, an increase in membership and subsequently, a steady growth in the number of apprentices entering our trades.

As we entered 2016, I accepted the appointment as Chairman of the Brick 3 Joint Apprenticeship Training and Education Committee (JATEC). While I have served in this capacity before, the timing of this renewed my focus on the two aspects that affect our Union most. Apprenticeship and Training are truly the life blood of the craft and our Unions’ strength depends on our ability to command the wages and benefits we earn.

In 2016, with the program at the Masonry Development Center approaching 200 apprentices, the JATEC increased the training staff with full time instructor Laurie Harris. A decision that provided for the continuation of smaller sized classes despite the expansion of hours in three of the seven crafts. The replacement of the programs CA. DAS Consultant resulted in revision of training standards, student rules, regulations and policies in preparation for state and federal audits. Recent staff training for IMI JATEC Tracking software scheduled to go live in March will allow Apprentice and Journey training to be effectively documented and certifications to follow the Craftworker. Journeyman upgrade training classes were also increased in both subject matter and frequency. And last, but certainly not least, preparations for the 2017 Western States Apprentice Contest began and are now well underway.

January 1, 2017 will mark the new year and the implementation of Proposition 51, the California School Construction Bond Measure. An unprecedented $9 billion was approved by voters in the 2016 general election for the modernization of schools and community colleges across the state. Voters also approved 166 local school bond measures and 15 local parcel tax measures valued at an additional 23 billion. These approved measures will create countless hours of work for skilled and trained Union construction workers as many of the projects will be covered by PLA’s. But what about the projects that are not under a PLA?

In anticipation of these bond measures and the issue of Non-Union contractors working on public school construction without being required to pay prevailing wages under the lease-leaseback provision, the State Building Trades Council sponsored the following bills in the state legislature in 2015. They were passed and signed into law by the governor on January 1, 2016.

AB 566 provides that school districts may enter into lease-leaseback contracts only with an entity that commits that all contractors and subcontractors will employ a “skilled workforce.” A skilled and trained workforce means all workers are either skilled journeypersons or apprentices registered in a Division of Apprenticeship Standards approved apprenticeship program. A skilled journeyperson means a worker who graduated from an apprenticeship program or has as many years of experience as would be necessary to graduate.  In addition, an annually adjusted percentage of skilled journeypersons must be graduates from approved apprenticeship programs (30% 2016, 40% 2017, 50% 2018, 60% 2019).

Contractors at every tier must comply with the skilled and trained workforce requirements. The law requires a monthly compliance report be provided, while the project is being performed by the lease-leaseback entity, to the school district unless there is a project labor agreement that applies those requirements to the project. The school district shall immediately cease making payments to the lease leaseback entity for failing to provide a monthly report. The monthly report shall be a public record under the Public Records Act and shall be open to public inspection.

The law also requires prequalification of general contractors, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing contractors for all lease-leaseback projects regardless of funding source. The school district may establish a process to prequalify prospective bidders on a quarterly or annual basis and the prequalification may be valid for up to one calendar year following the date of the initial prequalification. The requirement is mandatory until 2019.

AB 1358 requires all school districts to pre-qualify or shortlist only those design-build firms that provide an enforceable commitment to the provisions of AB 566 and the adjusted graduate rates of (20% 2016, 30% 2017, 40% 2018, 50% 2019, 60% 2020) for projects awarded on or after July1, 2016.

The authority to utilize the design build delivery method for school districts expires on January 1, 2025. The design build authority applies to any school project in excess of $1 million.

The statutes outlined above will provide the necessary leveling of the playing field for the Union and our BAC Signatory Contractors. We have the opportunity to control our destiny if we utilize the critical element described in the laws set forth above. That element is YOU, the skilled Journeyperson. Our Union has some of the finest craft training programs in the construction industry. But they are of little value without the daily hands on training we are all capable of delivering to our own apprentices. While indentured apprentices may be a thing of the past, the ever present need to create the “Best Mechanic” and graduating our apprentices will serve us well in the future.

In closing, for the Good of the Union, please join me in wishing BAC 3 Apprentice Bricklayers Presley Prater, Jordan Paraskevopoulos and Frank Smith the best of luck as they compete in the MCAA Masonry Skills Challenge in Las Vegas, Nevada in January.

Be well. Gary.