Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed two bills aimed at alleviating California's dearth of affordable housing- a move that is expected to generate millions of new housing units for low and middle class Californians and create well over 100,000 construction jobs. Assembly Bill 2011 and Senate Bill 6 will potentially invigorate construction in the residential sector by streamlining the local approvals process for developers; giving more residential projects a by-right use of land in areas commercially zoned for offices, retail and parking.
Both bills were supported by labor unions and their involvement was instrumental in their passage. The bills provide assurances that will ensure that certain union workers will get jobs over open-shop labor.
“We estimate 100,000 to 150,000 construction jobs will be needed to meet the state housing goals,” says Pete Rodriguez, executive secretary-treasurer for the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters. “We expect to fill those jobs with our existing workforce along with apprentices who will get a hands-on education and have the ability to continue to build housing for years to come."
AB 2011 stipulates that a portion if not all units in the projects be affordable housing and that workers are paid a prevailing wage on those projects. SB 6 requires that contractors use a "skilled and trained workforce". This wording carries a legal standard that essentially means that most workers on the job sites must be members of unions.
“The best part of the two bills is that the workforce that builds the homes will be able to afford to live in the homes thanks to the labor standards,” Rodriguez said.
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