California legislators proposed more than a half dozen major bills last year to address the state’s affordable-housing crisis, which researchers say is one of the worst in the nation. None of them passed.
At the heart of the dispute is the Trades’ insistence that proposals to incentivize home building require certain numbers of construction workers be graduates of apprenticeship programs that are mostly union-run. Easing restrictions, they argue, makes a developer’s land more valuable and that wealth should be shared through labor protections and higher wages. They also say that the standards, known as “skilled and trained,” help combat minimum-wage abuses in the construction industry.
Builders say apprenticeship requirements drive up the already sky-high expense of affordable-housing construction in a state where it can cost as much as $700,000 a unit to build in dense, urban areas such as San Francisco.