Non-Union Trade Group Signs Onto Hill’s Bill

construction.JPGSome interests in California construction support Assembly Bill 356, which would threaten San Francisco’s just-passed local hiring laws — just not the ones friendly to labor. In fact, Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo)’s bill picked up support Tuesday from what some consider labor’s mortal enemy.

The state Associated Builders and Contractors chapter, a group of non-union contractors, is one of the bill’s two registered supporters, according to filings released Tuesday. The other is the County of San Mateo.

City workers must be hired on projects at San Francisco International Airport, in San Mateo County, under San Francisco’s local hire laws. While San Mateo Building and Construction Trades head Bill Mack and his workers stood with Hill at an airport press conference announcing AB 356, labor officials have taken no stance on the bill. No labor groups were listed on the bill’s supporters Tuesday, and Mack did not return calls from the Appeal for comment.

The state Building and Construction Trade Council is officially neutral on AB 356, said communications director Sandy Harrison, which is a departure for state labor. “We’re usually directly opposed to whatever they [Associated Builders and Contractors] are for,” he said.

City labor officials will follow the lead of state Building and Construction trades, said San Francisco chapter head Michael Theriault, though labor figure Larry Mazzola, Sr., has said that the bill has led labor union members to lie about local residency.

Nearly two dozen community organizations registered as official opponents of Hill’s bill, according to filings. Many of these same groups organized in favor of the city’s local hire laws, written by Supervisor John Avalos and passed last year.

The Los Angeles City Council also passed a resolution opposing AB 356. Mayor Ed Lee sent a letter opposing the bill to an Assembly committee, to which Lee also sent a delegation to testify against the bill. The bill passed the committee, 5-0, with one Democrat joining Hill and three Republicans.

San Francisco’s local hire laws require city residents to be hired on construction projects using public funds, including work on the airport and on the city-owned Hetch-Hetchy aqueduct, which stretches to Yosemite National Park. Hill’s bill specifically prohibits such laws.

While declining to comment on the lack of labor support or the meaning of Associated Builders and Contractor’s support, Hill spokesman Aurelio Rojas noted that San Mateo Building and Construction Trades sent a letter in favor of AB 356, and Plumbers, Steamfitters, Refrigeration Fitters Local No. 467 testified in favor of the bill at an Assembly committee hearing last week.

It remains to be seen what Hill, the chair of his party’s Assembly caucus, will gain from AB 356. Hill has registered a campaign committee to run for state Senate in 2014, by which time sitting state Senator Leland Yee might be San Francisco mayor. When and if Hill runs for Yee’s seat, he will have to ask for votes from San Franciscans.

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