Refinery safety bill passes Calif. legislature

Members of Local 92 and Local 549 receive an update on SB 54’s progress in the California state Assembly. Seated at far back is Tom Baca, IVP-Western States and BCTCC secretary-treasurer.

Measure would create job opportunities for state building trades

THE BOILERMAKERS and other unions of the Building and Construction Trades Council of California (BCTCC) are applauding the passage of a bill to ensure that only highly-trained, highly-skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen may perform outside contractor work at the state’s petroleum refineries and other hazardous chemical plants.

SB 54 passed overwhelmingly: 51-24 in the state Assembly and 26-11 in the state Senate.

Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) introduced the BCTCC-sponsored bill. The legislation requires that only journeymen and apprentices who have graduated from a state-approved apprenticeship program with advanced safety training may be used. In addition, it establishes appropriate journeymen levels. In-house workers are not affected by the legislation.

SB 54 also requires that outside contract workers be paid prevailing wages, a provision which discourages the economic incentive to hire lower-skilled workers at lower wages.

“These high-risk facilities should employ the most skilled and qualified workers possible,” said BCTCC President Robbie Hunter.

Tom Baca, IVP for the Western States and BCTCC Sec.-Treas., praised International Rep Jim Cooksey for leading the lobbying effort by members of Local 92 (Los Angeles) and Local 549 (Pittsburg, Ca.). “Our members did an outstanding job of making the case for this important legislation,” he said. “SB 54 promotes public safety in facilities that, by their nature, are dangerous. All Californians should rest easier knowing that union trades will be on the job at these hazardous facilities.”

SB 54 awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.