California’s Affordable Housing Efforts Meet Wall of Union Resistance


California lawmakers introduced several bills this year that would rezone empty strip malls and big-box stores across the state to allow for new housing development without undergoing lengthy and costly local approvals.

Two are sailing through the Legislature. The other died early on. A key difference? The successful bills had the support of arguably the most powerful entity in the Capitol on housing issues, the State Building and Construction Trades Council. The other faced its vehement opposition.

Manuela Tobias | CALmatters Journalist | Muck Rack

By Manuela Tobias


The dealbreaker for the unions? If a bill did not require a “skilled and trained workforce,” which means that at least a third of the workers who can build housing on rezoned land must be graduates of apprenticeship programs. Many see this as requiring union labor, because unions run most of the state’s apprenticeships.


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