Brothers and Sisters of Local 11,
Although the California State Legislature was on recess, I have been busy talking to many state assembly members and state senators. I am an optimist, but I think the national and local economy are in for some very challenging times, more so than the current situation. California faces the largest budget deficit since the Great Recession. We are also hearing about future furloughs for LA City workers and I expect more cities/school districts/government agencies to tap into their rainy-day funds and require their employees to take furloughs when they deplete those funds.
We are focusing on getting large solar projects with PLAs financed and to construction ASAP. Legislators know that shovel-ready projects can help create jobs and keep our economy moving. We are also advocating for a “Transportation Electrification Framework” that will help create jobs, improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by installing more electric vehicle charging stations. Since schools are sitting mostly empty because of the pandemic, we are actively pushing for energy efficiency upgrades, PV systems with energy storage, and adequate ventilation.
That list includes some of our offensive goals, but we are also playing a lot of defense by stopping a lot of bad bills in Sacramento that ignore the union skilled and trained workforce.
During a crisis, people find opportunities to pass legislation that normally would NOT get the time of day. The GROW Act in the US Congress is the perfect example. The GROW Act undermines our pension plan, but it was included in the HEROES Act. The HEROES Act is a $3 trillion stimulus package that includes funding for many programs, including another $1,200 payment for individual taxpayers – something we support. Unfortunately, the GROW Act was included in the HEROES Act. In short, we are playing defense and trying to stop a lot of bad ideas from being approved.
On the political front, Democrat Christy Smith lost the special election for the 25th Congressional District against Republican Mike Garcia. We were hoping Christy would prevail but low voter turnout (special election and the pandemic) favors Republicans. We expect to take this seat back in November.
Last note – stay healthy and please implement the COVID-19 workplace guidelines. Stay home if you’re sick or have been exposed to the virus. It is estimated that more than half of the population in Los Angeles is unemployed, so I am grateful we can continue to work. There was talk about shutting down construction in LA about a month ago, but that chatter has faded.