In Politics and Policy, IBEW Must Have a Voice
By Antonio Sanchez
As a political director, I divide my responsibilities into two buckets: the political and the policy. The political work is more about an upcoming election, and the policy work is about laws and government code.
The endorsement list you will read in the next few pages of this newsletter is the product of many hours of candidate interviews that included lots of questions and conversations regarding energy generation, your work at the oil refineries, private and public construction and apprenticeships. The conversations differed a bit, depending on what office the candidate is running for and whether they are incumbents, but they all center around keeping our members working. Please take a moment and review the list. You will find some familiar names and some new names.
The LA County delegation to Washington D.C. won’t change much, but it does include a few new names such as Sydney Kamlager and Robert Garcia. Both are familiar names but will be new to the position. Kamlager is currently serving as a state senator and Garcia is the mayor of Long Beach. Both are Democrats in safe Democratic seats, and both should be the top vote-getters in June in their races. We will see about a dozen new state legislators, as well as new mayors for Los Angeles and Long Beach.
In Los Angeles, we endorsed L.A. Councilmember Joe Buscaino, and in Long Beach, we endorsed Long Beach Councilmember Rex Richardson. The new legislators will be all over the county, but I’ll just mention a few now. In the Antelope Valley, we have endorsed Juan Carrillo for Assembly District 39. In Long Beach, we endorsed Josh Lowenthal for Assembly District 69. In Assembly District 51, which includes Hollywood and Santa Monica, we endorsed Rick Chavez Zbur.
I have informed every single new Assembly and State Senate candidate that great construction policy includes the IBEW and that any policy related to climate change and stopping global warming must also include the IBEW. That is not negotiable. Climate change policy will create jobs in new sectors, and those jobs must be union jobs.
On the policy side, we continue to focus on housing bills that are working their way through the committee process in Sacramento. The message about housing is simple. We require that construction workers be well paid so that they can have successful careers as a members of a union. We’re also tracking the net energy metering (NEM) conversation. NEM is a program that allows owners of photovoltaic systems to sell the power they generate back to the electric grid. Our position is simple, and it has been heard loud and clear during several California Public Utility Commission meetings: NEM must create union careers in the IBEW. We know that many workers on solar jobs are underpaid. If the owner of a solar project receives a public subsidy through NEM, which they routinely do, the worker installing the PV system must be paid prevailing wage.
I’ll close by reminding everyone to vote. COVID has affected several close friends and family members, and I hope everyone is staying healthy both at home and on the jobsite.