CPUC considers picking up prevailing wage tab for FTTH project

23 February 2017 by Steve Blum
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Overruns on a fiber to the home build in San Bernardino County offer a glimpse into the cost of a 2014 law that imposed union wage and work rules on broadband infrastructure projects subsidised by the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). Assembly bill 2272 ended an ongoing dispute over whether CASF-funded projects are subject to California’s so-called prevailing wage law, which generally applies to public works projects.

Historically, the requirement to pay the prevailing wage in any given region for work done with public money has been interpreted by state labor regulators to mean workers have to be paid and projects have to be managed as if a typical union contract was in place, even if no union is involved.… More

Will the CPUC pick up the tab for unionising independent broadband projects?

6 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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When the state legislature was considering a bill to impose union wages and work rules – so-called prevailing wage rules – on broadband projects subsidised by the California Advanced Services Fund, an independent analysis by legislative staff pointed to the unknown but hefty – “likely in the millions of dollars” – extra cost…

This bill would become effective on January 1, 2015 for all infrastructure projects funded in part by the CASF, including those projects which are currently underway.


New prevailing wage law puts Californian ISPs and broadband upgrade projects at risk

3 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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Assume that any broadband construction work done in conjunction with a subsidy from the California Advanced Services Fund on or after 1 January 2015 has to comply with prevailing wage laws. Including the obligation to comply with a mountain of rules and paperwork. A new law approved by Governor Brown on Tuesday is very specific: CASF subsidies turn infrastructure builds into public works projects, which have to comply with union pay scales and rules.

Existing law has an exception for “work done directly by any public utility company pursuant to order of the Public Utilities Commission or other public authority”.… More

Governor hamstrings California's broadband subsidy fund, pleases cable, telcos, unions

1 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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With a stroke of Governor Brown’s pen, the cost of building independent broadband infrastructure using money from the California Advanced Services Fund has nearly doubled. Without comment, he signed assembly bill 2272 yesterday.

The new law, which takes effect in January, brings all CASF-subsidised broadband infrastructure projects under so-called prevailing wage rules, which impose union pay scales and work rules – often determined on a statewide basis – regardless of the typical construction costs and practices in a local area.… More

California assemblyman gushes over Comcast and takes its cash

29 September 2014 by Steve Blum
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Comcast is a model of modern corporate responsibility, according to assemblyman Adam Gray (D – Merced). In a letter he submitted to the FCC and cited by Comcast as a reason its mega-merger with Time-Warner and market swap with Charter should be approved, Gray showers his love on the company…

I am writing in support of the proposed transaction between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, because, while my constituents appreciate Comcast as a service provider, we are even more grateful to them for their investments in our community.


Governor's pen will write the story for community broadband development in California

18 September 2014 by Steve Blum
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Three bills with big implications for community broadband in California are still sitting on Governor Brown’s desk, waiting for his approval or veto:

Assembly bill 2272 would blow a huge hole in the California Advanced Services Fund and roll back much of the progress made last year when the legislature – and Brown – added $90 million to the kitty and made independent ISPs eligible for broadband construction subsidies. By requiring every CASF-funded project – past, present and future – to follow the state’s so-called prevailing wage rules, the effective subsidy would drop from 60% (for underserved areas) to less than 30% and the cost to the state would nearly double.… More

Future of broadband subsidies in hands of California's governor

2 September 2014 by Steve Blum
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It’s up to California governor Jerry Brown, to decide whether or not to double labor costs and effectively cut broadband construction subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund in half by requiring all projects it funds to follow union work rules and pay scales.

In lopsided votes that included both democrat and republican support, the California senate and assembly approved assembly bill 2272 last week. According to its author, assemblyman Adam Gray (D – Merced)…

AB 2272 codifies a decision already handed down by the department of industrial relations [DIR] to pay prevailing wage on projects funded by the California Advanced Services Fund.


California senate weighs even more protection for incumbent telephone and cable companies

20 August 2014 by Steve Blum
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The system is the solution.

There’s no love for independent Internet service providers in the California senate. A bill that would have made it harder for independents to put together broadband infrastructure projects that can be subsidised by the California Advanced Services Fund has been amended by the senate appropriations committee to make it nearly impossible.

Not only does assembly bill 2272 mandate union scale pay and union work rules

Under the [prevailing wage] law, there are multiple responsibilities of the awarding body, which is defined as the department, board, authority, office, or agent awarding a contract for public work.


California legislature can help and hurt broadband infrastructure development this week

18 August 2014 by Steve Blum
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One step forward and two slides back.

Two bills with big implications for broadband infrastructure in California are queued up for votes in the state legislature this week. Assembly bill 2272 was blessed by the senate leadership last week and sent on for a floor vote. The date hasn’t been set yet.

That bill would put a huge dent in the California Advanced Services Fund by requiring all the projects it subsidises to follow an inflated statewide set of union work rules and pay scales, regardless of who is doing the job or what the going rates are in a particular area.… More

Higher broadband construction costs means higher costs, California senate analysis admits

11 August 2014 by Steve Blum
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Not again.

It’s not exactly push back, but the first hint of clear headed thinking about more or less doubling broadband construction costs has emerged from the California legislature. Assembly bill 2272 would add broadband infrastructure subsidised by the California Advanced Services Fund to the list of construction projects that are subject to the state’s so-called prevailing wage law – in other words, be subject to union work rules and wages regardless of who is doing the work.… More