Assembly passes AB 1701, crushes rogue contractors with massive vote to end wage theft

Organized labor scored a crushing defeat of rogue developers and contractors when the state Assembly voted by an overwhelming margin to put a stop to wage theft in the construction industry.

Wednesday's 62-15 vote in favor of Assembly Bill 1701, on the heels of last week's passage in the state Senate, sends the bill to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature. He has until Oct. 15 to sign it.

State Building and Construction Trades Council President Robbie Hunter said:

"The importance of AB 1701 was demonstrated by the relentless campaign of lies and misinformation from the California Building Industry Association.

"Many developers and general contractors, through the CBIA, spent millions to preserve their chosen method of doing business, gaining lucrative profits by insulating themselves through a maze of subcontractors that they knew didn't pay their workers and were operating in the underground economy.

"Often, if they did pay, it was less than the minimum wage and with no overtime, no Social Security, no Medicare, no state or federal tax, no workers comp, no unemployment insurance. With this method of doing business, no reputable contractor obeying the law and paying decent wages can compete.

"With AB 1701, we have brought that system to its knees and have created an even playing field where fair contractors have the ability to win bids in the residential and commercial construction market.

"We now look to Gov. Brown, a governor who cares about protecting working families, to boost the California economy by signing AB 1701.

"We would like to thank the coalition of labor that fought to pass this bill carried by the Carpenters with the full support of the State Building Trades."

AB 1701will allow the state Labor Commissioner and joint labor-management committees to bring action against general contractors if their subcontractors on a job fail to pay their workers. General contractors had been insulated from responsibility, in a system that gave rise to a multi-billion-collar underground economy that studies showed takes advantage of tens of thousands of workers and costs the state between $8.5 billion and $10 billion a year in tax revenues.