The construction industry in the state has been feeling the effects of a new labor bill that aims to make employers responsible to fairly compensate their employees. Some opponents of the new measure have been making claims that the new rules have created a labor shortage in the industry. Others say that this measure only affects employers who thrive on using sub-minimum wages and evasion of fair labor practices. The bill itself will make it easier for some California workers to settle wage disputes.
Over the last seven years, the number of employees working in the construction trades has actually increased by almost 300,000 workers. Although construction employment still isn’t as high as it was 10 years ago, the market is slowly recovering, and construction workers’ wages have begun to climb back up. The increase in wages has some groups worried about labor shortages.
A bill passed and signed by the governor last year, Assembly Bill 1701, aims to hold contractors responsible for paying their low-rung workers a fair wage. The law allows the State Labor Commission to seek back wages from general contractors should their subcontractors not pay their employees. This is a tough new policy that many construction groups oppose, citing the labor shortage. However, statistics show that percentages of union workers employed in construction are up, and that workers are entering state-approved apprenticeships in growing numbers.
Wage disputes and wage theft will hopefully someday be a part of the construction industry’s past. Until that time comes, some workers will struggle to receive their fair wages in California. Many people have successfully used the help of an employment law attorney for legal help in recovering lost wages.
Source: The Sacramento Bee, “California construction workers are plentiful at a union wage“, Robbie Hunter, Jan. 31, 2018