Gov. Brown Signs SB 54

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Oct. 17, 2013

On Sunday, October 13th, the last day for bills to be signed, SB 54, Hazardous Materials Management: skilled and Trained Workforce, was signed by Governor Brown.  While SB 54 originally dealt with county employees' retirement, it was gut and amended on August 5th to require that any company with a Risk Management Plan (RMP) must only hire contractors who paid prevailing wages and hired employees who had been through an apprenticeship type program.  The logic behind this requirement was that higher wages and apprentice training would improve safety and reduce accidents.

SB 54 was further amended on August 21st, limiting the application to refineries and petrochemical companies.  SB 54 was sponsored by the State Building & Construction Trades Council and opposed by the business community and the United Steelworkers, who saw this as a grab for thousands of oil refinery jobs rather than about safety.  
 
The bill is extremely noteworthy because it is the first time state government has forced prevailing wages on private industry.  This could very easily be the “camel’s nose under the tent.” One has to question how the enactment of this legislation will be viewed by companies who were considering a move to California or an expansion of operations in the State.
 
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