Using Apprentices on California Public Works Projects

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New Case Clarifies Use of Apprentices on Public Works:  Use of Craft Labor Rather than Pipefitter Apprentices Is Appropriate On Water Projects When On-Site Journeymen Were Union Laborers.

A group of pipefitter apprentices alleged lost wages and training and violation of Labor Code Section 1777.5 against a prime contractor who, as signatory to a collective bargaining agreement with a laborers union, hired apprentice laborers rather than  apprentice pipefitters to perform process pipe work on dozens of water and sewage treatment systems in Northern California.  The trial court found that the term “craft or trade” in section 1777.5 refers to the journeyman’s trade or occupation, not the work processes in which they engage on any given day.  In the new case, Henson v. C Overaa & Co., the CaliforniaCourt of Appeal agreed with the trial court.  Although subdivision (b) provides that apprentices be employed only at the work of the craft or trade to which he or she is registered, the plain language of subdivisions (g) and (h) refers to employing apprentices in the same craft or trade as journeymen employed at the job site.  The plaintiffs did not dispute that the on-site journeymen laborers were qualified to perform the process pipe work.  Moreover, nothing in the DIR regulations limits a journeyman to performing work processes on which his apprenticeship program has been authorized to train.  The Court saw no harm in labor apprentices receiving training in processes that were not expressly listed in the laborer apprenticeship standards.  The Court reasoned that any other reading of the statute has the potential to place an unreasonable burden on contractors (e.g., choose between violating a collective bargining agreement of the statute).

Barbara R. Gadbois, Esq.
Gibbs Giden Locher Turner Senet & Wittbrodt LLP
1880 Century Park East 12th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90067
email: bgadbois@gibbsgiden.com

For more information from Barbara R. Gadbois, Esq. visit:

 http://www.gibbsgiden.com/_blog/Construction_and_Public_Contracts

The content contained herein is published online by Gibbs Giden Locher Turner Senet & Wittbrodt LLP (“Gibbs Giden”) for informational purposes only, may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements, and does not constitute legal advice. Do not act on the information contained herein without seeking the advice of licensed counsel.

Copyright 2015 Gibbs Giden Locher Turner Senet & Wittbrodt LLP ©

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