On behalf of The Silicon Valley Organization (The SVO), we are writing to oppose SB 825 (Beall) which would arbitrarily limit opportunities for prison inmates and create barriers for local merit shops to employ formerly incarcerated individuals. By way of background, we are the Silicon Valley’s premier business advocacy organization representing 1,400+ companies that employ nearly 300,000 workers and we represent our membership as the region’s largest Chamber of Commerce.
The premise of SB 825 begins with a worthy goal, which is to provide employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals in order to reduce prison recidivism rates; however, the current language of SB 825 would:
- Limit education opportunities for prison inmates, by only providing one type of pre-apprenticeship program for instructional use;
- Mandate 10-year project labor agreements (PLA), which would limit jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals. PLAs inherently limit the ability of local merit shops and SVO members from bidding on construction projects.
We urge you to amend SB 825 to allow additional high-quality curriculum to train prison inmates, such as the program provided by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). This curriculum is utilized by over 100 schools and throughout the 35 adult prison facilities in California. Furthermore, we urge you to remove any PLA provision in SB 825. PLAs limit the ability of local merit shops to bid on construction projects by increasing costs and decreasing competition. In your district and Santa Clara County alone, over 1,100 contractors/employers in the construction industry could lose out on potential project bids unless SB 825 is amended.
The SVO supports these amendments in order to provide an equal playing field for all stakeholders who wish to provide employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals.