Archive for Construction Labor Issues

Project Labor Agreement Activity at California Governments Since January 1, 2015 (as of September 26, 2017)

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Project Labor Agreement Activity at California Governments Since January 1, 2015
(as of September 26, 2017)

COUNTY

PUBLIC ENTITY AND NAME OF PROJECT

DATE OF MOST RECENT ACTION

GOVERNING BOARD ACTION

Alameda City of Hayward – New Library and Community Learning Center + All Work 11/15/16 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement for library 4/14/15 and then Project Labor Agreement for all work.
Alameda City of Alameda – All Work Over $1 Million 10/18/16 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement after several years of discussion.
Alameda Oakland Unified School District Project Labor Agreement – 2016-2021 9/28/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Alameda Fremont Unified School District 7/20/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement nine months after negotiations authorized.
Alameda Alameda Unified School District 5/10/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement seven months after negotiations authorized.
Alameda City of Fremont – Downtown Civic Center Phase 1 3/5/16 City Council approves negotiations for Project Labor Agreement.
Alameda City of Berkeley – Private Downtown Building Projects Over 75 Feet in Height (At Least Five Planned Projects) 7/14/15 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement.
Alameda City of Berkeley – Amendment of Project Labor Agreement Reducing Project Cost Threshold to $500,000 6/25/15 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement.
Alameda Hayward Unified School District – Measure L Projects 6/24/15 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Alameda City of San Leandro – All Work Exceeding $1 Million in Estimated Cost or Bid Amount 6/15/15 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement.
Alameda East Bay Municipal Utility District – Chabot Dam Retrofit 1/12/16 Board was scheduled to vote on negotiated Project Labor Agreement; it was never approved.
Contra Costa Contra Costa Community College District 9/13/17 Board assigned ad hoc committee 5/24/17 to consider extending an existing Project Labor Agreement to future projects with amendments. Committee met 6/26/17. Ad hoc committee issues report 9/13/17.
Contra Costa Martinez Unified School District 6/12/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement negotiations after two years, four months of discussion.
Contra Costa San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority – Central Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility, Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion, Richmond Ferry Terminal Project 2/16/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreements 2015-2017, most recently on 2/16/17.
Contra Costa City of San Pablo 10/3/16 City Council established an Ad Hoc Committee on Project Labor Agreement Ordinance & Local Hiring Provisions.
Contra Costa City of Brentwood – New Library 9/13/16 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement seven months after negotiations authorized.
Contra Costa City of Concord – All Work Over $750,000 9/13/16 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement five months after negotiations authorized.
Contra Costa University of California Board of Regents – Berkeley Global Campus in Richmond 8/26/16 Board of Regents cancels project after two years of pressure for Project Labor Agreement.
Contra Costa Pinole-Hercules Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Project 9/1/15 City Council in Pinole approves Project Labor Agreement; City Council in Hercules rejects Project Labor Agreement; Project Labor Agreement included in bid specifications.
Fresno State Center Community College District 3/17/17 Board holds study session on Project Labor Agreement.
Fresno City of Fresno – Transformative Climate Communities Program 12/15/16 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement; approves amendment 3/23/17.
Imperial Calexico Unified School District 8/4/16 Board voted against Project Labor Agreement and tabled.
Imperial County of Imperial – Phase II Adult Detention Facility 12/8/15 Board of Supervisors approves Project Labor Agreement.
Los Angeles County of Los Angeles 9/26/17 Board approves negotiations for a Project Labor Agreement 3/21/17.
Los Angeles Port of Los Angeles – Ten Year Capital Improvement Program Project List 9/5/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Los Angeles Palmdale Unified School District 9/5/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement four-and-a-half months after negotiations authorized.
Los Angeles County Sanitation District No. 2 of Los Angeles County – Joint Water Pollution Control Plant Effluent Outfall Tunnel 6/14/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement six months after negotiations authorized.
Los Angeles City of Los Angeles – Proposition HHH Homelessness Reduction and Prevention Housing, and Facilities Bond Issue 6/13/17 City Council requests City Attorney to prepare and present an ordinance to implement a citywide project labor agreement for such projects.
Los Angeles Palmdale Recycled Water Authority 5/15/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Los Angeles Lynwood Unified School District – Extend Existing Project Labor Agreement for Another Five Years and Add Measure N Projects 3/28/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement amendment.
Los Angeles Los Angeles Community College District 3/8/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement (an amendment to an existing agreement).
Los Angeles Mt. San Antonio Community College District 3/8/17 Board tables Project Labor Agreement presentation. Board selected Project Labor Agreement as priority discussion item in January 2017.
Los Angeles Antelope Valley Community College District 3/3/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Los Angeles Mountain View School Distrct 3/2/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Los Angeles Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District 2/16/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement 22 months after negotiations authorized.
Los Angeles City of Glendale – Grayson Power Plant Repowering Project 2/7/17 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement.
Los Angeles Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District 11/21/16 Board approves negotiations for a Project Labor Agreement 19 months after first discussed at meeting.
Los Angeles Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority – Airport Replacement Passenger Terminal 8/12/16 Board approves amendment to original Project Labor Agreement approved 6/20/16.
Los Angeles Azusa Unified School District 5/17/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement one year after negotiations authorized.
Los Angeles Long Beach City College 4/26/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement five months after negotiations authorized.
Los Angeles Cerritos Community College District 12/9/15 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Los Angeles Compton Unified School District – All Work Under New Bond 10/30/15 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Los Angeles City of Glendale 10/6/15 City Council schedules Project Labor Agreement discussion but then tables it.
Los Angeles Port of Long Beach – All Work 7/13/15 Commission approves Project Labor Agreement ten months after negotiations approved.
Los Angeles City of Long Beach – All Work Exceeding $500,000 4/7/15 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement.
Los Angeles Culver City Unified School District 3/10/15 Board informally discusses Project Labor Agreement as a future agenda item.
Los Angeles Valley County Water District 2/26/15 Board receives report on Project Labor Agreements from Board’s Capital Improvements & Rates Committee.
Los Angeles Bassett Unified School District 1/20/15 Board approves Project Labor Agreement four months after negotiations authorized.
Los Angeles Whittier City School District – Measure Z Projects: Edward Roofing Project, Andrews School K-8 Conversion Phase l, Andrews School K-8 Conversion Phase 2, Painting Projects, and Strategic Fencing 1/13/15 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Marin College of Marin 4/18/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Monterey County of Monterey – Interlake Tunnel Project 4/12/16 Board of Supervisors approves Project Labor Agreement after two years of discussion.
Monterey Salinas Union High School District – High School #5 9/29/15 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Monterey City of Marina – Mandate for Private Developments Within Fort Ord Reuse District 8/18/15 City Council votes to consider a Project Labor Agreement on a private project.
Napa County of Napa – Future Jail Projects 12/15/15 Board of Supervisors discusses as formal agenda item; Project Labor Agreement was ultimately abandoned.
Orange Anaheim Elementary School District 9/13/17 Board holds study session on Project Labor Agreements on 1/25/17 and 9/13/17.
Orange Santa Ana Unified School District 8/23/17 Board approves negotiated Project Labor Agreement without ever voting to authorize negotiations.
Orange City of Santa Ana 8/15/17 City Council approves negotiated Project Labor Agreement without ever voting to authorize negotiations.
Orange South Coast Water District – Doheny Ocean Desalination Plant 8/4/17 Since 5/5/17, unions have been requesting public records related to CEQA from this agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Orange Anaheim Union High School District 7/13/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement eight months after negotiations authorized.
Orange Anaheim Convention Center Expansion 4/21/15 Groundbreaking under Project Labor Agreement between unions and construction management firm.
Riverside Coachella Valley Unified School District 6/14/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Sacramento City of Sacramento – Sacramento Convention Center Renovation and Expansion Project 7/25/17 City Council approves pre-construction services contract without a reference to a Project Labor Agreement.
Sacramento California Department of General Services – O Street Building and New Natural Resources Headquarters Building 4/17/17 Agency Requests for Qualifications state projects will be subject to a Project Labor Agreement.
Sacramento Sacramento City Unified School District 3/2/17 Board Facilities Committee appoints Task Force 9/3/15 to discuss a lower project cost threshold; board holds study session on Project Labor Agreements and directs staff to negotiate a new agreement 3/2/17.
Sacramento Sacramento Municipal Utility District – New Headquarters 6/25/15 Board approves negotiations 6/25/15 for Project Labor Agreement. All bids submitted by 11/6/15 for construction management rejected. Re-bid, and two bids submitted by 1/18/17. Neither set of bid specifications mentions Project Labor Agreement.
San Diego Palomar Community College District 6/27/17 Board holds two workshops on Project Labor Agreements 5/23/17 and 6/27/17.
San Diego San Diego County Water Authority – San Vicente Pumped Storage Water Power Project 3/15/17 Authority General Counsel reports a public records request from California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE), indicating potential interference via CEQA.
San Diego City of San Diego – Pure Water San Diego 1/20/17 City Councilmember asks in letter to Environmental Committee chairperson for Project Labor Agreement to be considered in 2017.
San Diego Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District 11/15/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement one year after negotiations authorized.
San Diego Sweetwater Union High School District 7/11/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement nine months after negotiations authorized.
San Diego National School District 2/10/16 Board holds workshop on Project Labor Agreements.
San Diego Chula Vista Elementary School District 12/9/15 Board approves Project Labor Agreement eight months after negotiations authorized.
San Francisco City of San Francisco – All Work Over $1 Million 2/28/17 Ordinance introduced by Supervisor for Project Labor Agreement policy.
San Francisco San Francisco Public Utilities Commission – Sewer System Improvement Program and Auxiliary Water Supply System Project Labor Agreement Extension 5/10/16 Commission approves Project Labor Agreement.
San Francisco San Francisco Housing Authority – Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Projects 5/20/15 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
San Francisco Bay Area San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority 11/30/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement seven months after negotiations authorized.
San Francisco Bay Area Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Project Labor Agreement Policy – Nine Major Projects in Next 5 Years 3/10/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
San Francisco/San Mateo San Francisco Airport Commission – Amendment 2 to Airport Terminal Refurbishment and Related Support Facilities/Infrastructure Improvement Program Project Labor Agreement 2/16/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement amendment.
San Joaquin County of San Joaquin – Hospital Expansion 10/11/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement 9/13/16 and then rescinds it 10/4/16, votes against it 10/11/16.
San Joaquin City of Stockton – All Work 7/26/16 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement eight months after negotiations authorized.
San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors – New Animal Shelter 4/7/15 Board of Supervisors discusses Project Labor Agreement as agenda item but does not vote on it in the end.
San Luis Obispo Cuesta College (San Luis Obispo Community College District) 3/5/15 Board Rejects Negotiations for Project Labor Agreement
San Mateo City of Half Moon Bay – Half Moon Bay Library Project 9/20/16 City Council approves Project Labor Agreement.
San Mateo San Mateo County Community College District 3/16/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement (an amendment to an existing agreement).
San Mateo/Santa Clara Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (CalTrain) – Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project 7/2/15 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Santa Santa Clara Valley Water District – Expedited Purified Water Program 1/12/16 Board directs staff to follow up with labor unions and the Building and Construction Trades Council, and come back to the Board for further discussion on Project Labor Agreement approaches.
Santa Clara City of San Jose – All Projects Over $2 Million 8/28/17 City Council creates Community Workforce Agreements/Project Labor Agreement (CWA/PLA) Task Force 12/13/16. Issued a final recommendation on 8/28/17. San Jose City Council scheduled to discuss 10/3/17.
Santa Clara East Side Union High School District – Reduce Existing Project Labor Agreement Threshold to $175,000 and Add Measure Z Projects 8/17/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement amendment.
Santa Clara Santa Clara Unified School District 3/9/17 Board pulls agenda item after repeatedly discussing Project Labor Agreement as a formal agenda item over two years. No further action expected.
Santa Clara County of Santa Clara – William F. James Boys Ranch (James Ranch) Renovation, Berger Building 2 Seismic Retrofit, Main Jail North Cell Hardening projects + All Work Over $2 Million 1/24/17 Board approves series of Project Labor Agreements 2015-2017, ending with new policy on 1/24/17.
Santa Clara Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority – All Work 9/1/16 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Santa Clara Berryessa Union School District 11/17/15 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.
Solano Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District 6/1/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement seven months after negotiations authorized.
Solano Vacaville Unified School District 6/25/15 Board approves negotiations for Project Labor Agreement. No further action expected.
Sonoma Santa Rosa Junior College 9/12/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement three months after negotiations authorized.
Sonoma City of Santa Rosa 7/12/17 City Council request for study session item on Project Labor Agreements has been indicated for years; 7/12/17 staff report on “Upcoming Meetings” includes pending study session on Project Labor Agreements.
Sonoma County of Sonoma – Adult Detention Behavioral Health Unit 7/11/17 Board approves Project Labor Agreement, the first mandated under policy enacted 1/14/14.
Ventura Oxnard School District – Elm Elementary School Project and Other Measure R Projects 6/24/15 Board approves Project Labor Agreement.

Unions Pressured City of Stockton to Mandate Project Labor Agreement on Federally-Funded Street Paving Project

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On July 26, 2016, the Stockton City Council voted 6-1 to require businesses to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions for construction contracts over $1 million. Stockton had recently emerged from bankruptcy and its city council was eager to begin sending its revenue to the unions again. (See “Stockton Has Its Bankruptcy Exit Plan in Place – Time for Project Labor Agreement!“)

The City of Stockton Project Labor Agreement lasts for three years. But as of March 15, 2017, the Project Labor Agreement mandate has not been included in any bid specifications for city contracts.

This frustrates the leadership of the San Joaquin Building Trades Council. Why lobby a city council for a Project Labor Agreement – against stiff opposition and public criticism – if it doesn’t translate into control of public contracts?

Unions finally had enough in November 2016, when the City of Stockton advertised for bids for a $3.3 million street resurfacing program on Pacific Avenue. The project was fully paid for with federal funds disbursed through the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). It did not include a requirement for the winning general contractor and its subcontractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement.

According to union representatives and other supporters of the policy, government-mandated Project Labor Agreements compel contractors to employ local trade workers (even though technically and in practice Project Labor Agreements implement unenforceable “goals” and “commitments”). Federal law prohibits a local government such as the City of Stockton from imposing statutorily or administratively imposed state, local, or tribal geographic preferences in the evaluation of bids or proposals for contracts involving federal highway transportation funds.

For example, see Code of Federal Regulations, Construction and Maintenance, title 23, sec. 635.110(f)(1). It is presumed that local or other geographic-based labor hiring preferences are not directly related to the bidder’s performance of work in a competent and responsible manner and may have adverse impacts on competition. For example, see Geographic-Based Hiring Preferences in Administering Federal Awards, 80 FR 12092 (March 6, 2015).

Local governments such as the City of Berkeley recognize that federal funding means that Project Labor Agreements cannot be used in bid specifications. See the City of Berkeley Staff Report for Community Workforce Agreement Exemption – James Kenney Seismic Retrofit Project (May 24, 2016).

Below, reported to the public for the first time, is the story of how this resurfacing project was delayed and jeopardized as unions sought a Project Labor Agreement mandate on it. This timeline is based on public records. The City of Stockton redacted some material from what it provided as a response to a records request, but enough was obtained to show what happened.

November 9, 2016

The City of Stockton posts a Notice Inviting Bids for “FFY 2015-2016 STREET RESURFACING PROJECT” with a bid deadline of December 1, 2016. The description of this project: “Phase I is done in the winter months of year 2017. The scope of work in Phase I includes extruded curbs, stamped concrete in median islands, ADA wheel chair ramps, truncated domes, two bus pads at BRT stops, removal and re-installation of curb, gutter, and sidewalk. Construction of Phase I is dependent on availability of funds with the City of Stockton. Phase II is done in the summer months of year 2017. Phase II scope of work includes base failure repairs, crack sealing, pavement patching/peeling, pavement grinding, installing electrical traffic detector loops and detector hand holes, 2 asphalt concrete overlay and striping.” The project includes a requirement for contractors to pay state prevailing wage rates to workers. The engineers’s estimate is “below $3.3 million.”

November 10, 2016

The Secretary-Treasurer of the San Joaquin Building Trades Council sends an email to city staff asking why the City of Stockton did not include a Project Labor Agreement* mandate for contractors in the bid documents for the street resurfacing project. Staff indicates uncertainty on how to respond.

*The Project Labor Agreement is officially referred to by the City of Stockton as a “Community Workforce and Training Agreement” (CWTA). This sounds more pleasing than “Project Labor Agreement.”

November 14, 2016

The law firm of Adams, Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo – representing the San Joaquin Building Trades Council – sends an email to city staff warning that the unions will “subject the city to an enforcement action for failure to comply with the requirements” of the Project Labor Agreement.

November 15, 2016

City of Stockton staff cancels the Notice Inviting Bids for the street resurfacing project and decides to consult with Caltrans to clarify what the restrictions are for various local mandates on federally-funded projects. Staff choses not to respond to the union demands, pointing out that “debating with them is pointless.”

November 16, 2016

City of Stockton staff informs a Caltrans official that the city has a local contractor preference and a local worker preference in its municipal code, as well as a supplemental policy requiring contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement that requires contractors to get workers from unions. Staff refers to a Caltrans notice that warns local governments not to use local hiring preferences on federally-funded projects.

In addition, staff recognizes that the Project Labor Agreement is a “political hot potato” and Caltrans needs to understand they are dealing with a Project Labor Agreement, not just a local hire ordinance. “It contains a component of local hire, but it is much more than that.”

Staff indicates that a negative response from Caltrans will be scrutinized by the unions. “If it takes them a long time to decide, so be it.”

At this point the interests of the people of Stockton are subverted by the union demand for monopoly control of the contract.

November 22, 2016

Staff discusses a response from Caltrans (not provided as a public document) stating that the City of Stockton cannot require contractors to sign the city’s Project Labor Agreement for the federally-funded street resurfacing project.

November 23, 2016

Staff still insists on “a response in writing” from Caltrans “that provides references to back up their position as well as legal contacts.” Meanwhile, staff is again warned not to respond to union representatives about the project. “This project is on hold. Everyone please stop seeking information. This is a very sensitive subject at this point.” Staff also expresses concern that the delay is jeopardizing federal funding for street resurfacing.

November 29, 2016

Staff says the city attorney needs to be included in discussions with Caltrans. “This is how important the [Project Labor Agreement] issue is.”

A Caltrans official tells staff that “Caltrans will comment about the federal/state instructions for using Local Hiring Preference but will not comment on the [Project Labor Agreement]…If agency does not follow the federal instructions then may lose funds.”

December 6, 2016

The Caltrans official again responds to the City of Stockton request for guidance, saying the question has been answered. “If city does not follow the required federal procedure for every project, city will lose federal funds.”

March 7, 2017

The City of Stockton publishes a new Notice Inviting Bids for FFY 2015-2016 Street Resurfacing Project (Pacific Avenue from Rivara Road to March Lane and Thornton Road from El Camino Avenue to Rivara Road) with a bid deadline of March 30, 2017. The description of this project: “The scope of work includes base failure repairs, pavement patching/leveling, pavement grinding (cold plaining), installing electrical traffic detector loops and detector hand holes, 1.5 and 3 asphalt concrete overlay, re-striping, extruded curbs, stamped concrete in median islands, ADA wheel ramps, truncated domes, two bus pads at BRT stops, removal and re-installation of curb, gutter and sidewalk.” The bid documents do NOT include a mandate for a Project Labor Agreement. The engineers’s estimate is “below $3.2 million.”

SOURCES

City of Stockton – Union Demands Project Labor Agreement Apply to Pacific Avenue Street Resurfacing – Key Documents

City of Stockton – Union Demands Project Labor Agreement Apply to Pacific Avenue Street Resurfacing – All Documents

City of Stockton Bid Documents for Pacific Avenue Street Resurfacing – 1st Try

City of Stockton Bid Documents for Pacific Avenue Street Resurfacing – 2nd Try

Copies of All Project Labor Agreements Implemented in 2016 on California Government Projects

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Copies of All Project Labor Agreements Implemented in 2016 on California Government Projects

COUNTY GOVERNMENT AGENCY PROJECT or PROJECTS (with link to PLA)
1 San Francisco Bay Area Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Project Labor Agreement Policy – 9 Major Projects in Next 5 Years
2 San Francisco Bay Area San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion Project Labor Agreement
3 San Francisco Bay Area San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Project Labor Agreement Policy
4 Alameda Fremont Unified School District Fremont Unified School District Project Labor Agreement
5 Alameda Alameda Unified School District Alameda Unified School District Project Labor Agreement
6 Alameda City of Hayward City of Hayward Project Labor Agreement Policy
7 Alameda Oakland Unified School District Oakland Unified School District Project Labor Agreement – 2016-2021
8 Contra Costa City of Brentwood City of Brentwood Library Project Labor Agreement
9 Contra Costa City of Concord City of Concord Project Labor Agreement – All Work Over $750,000
10 Fresno City of Fresno Transformative Climate Communities Project Labor Agreement
11 Los Angeles Long Beach Community College District Long Beach Community College District Project Labor Agreement
12 Los Angeles Port of Long Beach Port of Long Beach Project Labor Agreement – All Work
13 Monterey County of Monterey/Monterey County Water Resources Agency Monterey County Water Resources Agency Interlake Tunnel Project Labor Agreement
14 San Diego Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Project Labor Agreement
15 San Diego Sweetwater Union High School District Sweetwater Union High School District Project Labor Agreement
16 San Francisco San Francisco Public Utilities Commission San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Sewer System Improvement Program and Auxiliary Water Supply System Project Labor Agreement Extension 2016
17 Santa Clara County of Santa Clara Santa Clara County Project Labor Agreement Policy – Reduce Threshold from $10 Million to $2 Million
18 Santa Clara County of Santa Clara Santa Clara County Main Jail North Cell Hardening Project Labor Agreement
19 Santa Clara Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Project Labor Agreement Policy
20 San Joaquin City of Stockton City of Stockton Project Labor Agreement

Citizens Bond Oversight Committees Make Recommendations on Project Labor Agreements

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My November 5, 2015 article published at www.UnionWatch.org entitled Will Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committees Crumble Against Union Power? outlines the history of Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committees in reviewing and making recommendations on proposed Project Labor Agreements at California school and community college districts.

What’s the latest addition to this history? On November 12, 2015, the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District voted 7-1 to recommend against a proposed Project Labor Agreement for a $398 million bond measure. Here is the text of the resolution:


The Citizens Bond Oversight Committee for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District approved the following recommendation at a special meeting on Thursday, November 12, 2015 by a vote of 7 in favor of the motion, one opposed to motion, and one recused as follows:

Recommendation:

The CBOC has reviewed the concept of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) and recognizes why some responsible and fully capable companies may choose not to bid certain projects if a PLA is required as part of the GCCCD construction contract. We believe that a PLA, if implemented with Proposition V, would discourage competitive bidding and may increase costs, impact how the bond money is used, and undermine the District’s efforts to maximize bond revenues and achieve cost savings. Also, it is apparent that under a PLA, local non-union workers (especially apprentices) will not be treated equally in comparison with union workers which would constitute a violation of the Board’s prior Bond resolution. Furthermore, evidence was presented to the CBOC indicating that without the use of a PLA, no significant problems occurred on the previous Proposition R bond projects and none are expected to occur on the Proposition V projects. Therefore, there is no substantial taxpayer interest that could reasonably require the District to establish a PLA for all of the Proposition V projects.

For these reasons and in order to maintain voter confidence of the District, the CBOC recommends that the Board of Trustees does not continue with its plan to require construction companies to sign a PLA or negotiate a PLA for Proposition V projects. Furthermore, we recommend that the District be open and transparent on future bond measures and tell the voters if a PLA is being considered at some point prior to the ballot going before the voters. We believe it irresponsible to implement a PLA based on the language in the current Bond.

###

Nine Fall 2015 Commentaries on California School and College Bond Measures

California Bill Would Allow Contractors and Workers to Maintain Their Existing Health Insurance Under a Project Labor Agreement

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Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) has introduced Assembly Bill 842 in the California legislature. Here is the Legislative Counsel’s digest of this bill:

AB 842 “would provide that a contractor that bids on or has been awarded work covered by a Project Labor Agreement that provides health care coverage to workers on the project that is the subject of the agreement, that includes essential health benefits, as described in the PPACA [federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act], and that provides evidence of that coverage to the entity awarding the contract, is exempt from a requirement to pay into a trust or custodial benefit plan for health and welfare or similar benefits for those workers an amount equal to the amount that the contractor would have been required to pay into that trust or custodial benefit plan for health care costs for those workers.”

In other words, a non-union employer that has a bone fide health insurance benefit program equivalent to or better than what is offered by the applicable multi-employer union-affiliated trust for the same trade in the same geographic region does not have to pay the health insurance component to the union trust fund. It can make employer payments to the company health insurance program on behalf of its employees. The company does not need to pay to both the union program and ALSO its own company program (the costly “double payments” dilemma) so that its employees can maintain their existing health insurance.

What does this mean in practice? The Salinas Taxpayers Association took a position in support of AB 842 because the bill was relevant to Project Labor Agreement controversies in Salinas. Here is the Salinas Taxpayers Association letter on Assembly Bill 842:

Salinas Taxpayers Association - Support AB 842 - Project Labor Agreement Equivalent Fringe Health Benefits - April 15, 2015

Salinas Taxpayers Association - Support AB 842 - Project Labor Agreement Equivalent Fringe Health Benefits - April 15, 2015

 

Several of the more than 200 government-mandated Project Labor Agreements imposed in California have included such language for not just health insurance but for ALL legitimate fringe benefits. One prominent example is the San Diego Unified School District. A Project Labor Agreement administrator was given the authority to determine if non-union contractors provided equivalent benefit plans. (Below, see the relevant language from the Project Labor Agreement.)

Note that unions (as well as labor compliance programs or personnel) monitor contractors that claim equivalent fringe benefit plans. Unions have also challenged decisions of PLA administrators concluding that non-union contractors have equivalent benefits. Two examples at San Diego Unified School District:

The United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local Union No. 45 went after A Good Roofer, Inc. because the company did not submit its fringe benefit package to the Project Labor Coordinator for evaluation to determine if it was equivalent or better than the union package. The Roofers union demanded that A Good Roofer, Inc. pay employee fringe benefits (as designated in the union collective bargaining agreement) to the applicable union trust funds, along with interest, costs, and liquidated damages. See SDUSD PLA Grievance – A Good Roofer, Inc.

The San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council went after the San Diego Unified School District claiming it improperly determined under Section 5.2 of the Project Labor Agreement that Standard Electronics had a fringe benefit program equivalent to the program administered by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local No. 569. See SDUSD PLA Grievance SDUSD & Standard Electronics.

Here is the language from the San Diego Unified School District Project Labor Agreement:

Section 5.2 Benefits. (a) Contractors shall pay contributions to the established employee benefit funds in the amounts designated in the appropriate Schedule A; and make all employee ­authorized deductions in the amounts designated in the appropriate Schedule A: provided, however, that the Contractor and Unions agree that only such bona fide employee benefits as accrue to the direct benefit of the employees (such as pension and annuity, health and welfare, vacation, apprenticeship, and training funds) shall be included in this requirement and required to be paid by the Contractor on the Project; and provided further, however, that such contributions shall not exceed the contribution amounts set forth in the applicable prevailing wage determination.

Unless otherwise required by law, Contractors who have fringe benefits for their core workforce equal to or better than those designated in the Schedule A do not have to pay the fringe benefit contribution designated in the Schedule A on the core work force and may utilize their own fringe benefits. The Project Labor Coordinator will be responsible for determining whether the benefits are equal to or better than those designated in the Schedule A’s. Contractors must submit their fringe benefit packages to the Project Labor Coordinator for evaluation prior to bidding. Contractors may only take credit against the prevailing wage in accordance with the Prevailing Wage Statute and the difference between the hourly cost, if any, of the fringe benefit provided and the hourly cost of the applicable fringe benefit portion of the wage determination must be paid to the worker as wages. Benefits designated in the Schedule A will be paid on all employees dispatched by the Union.

(b) Where applicable, the Contractor adopts and agrees to be bound by the written terms of the applicable, legally established, trust agreement(s) specifying the detailed basis on which payments are to be made into, and benefits paid out of, such trust funds for its employees. The Contractor authorizes the Parties to such trust funds to appoint trustees and successors’ trustees to administer the trust funds and hereby ratifies and accepts the trustees so appointed as if made by the Contractor.

(c) Each Contractor and Subcontractor is required to certify to the Project Labor Coordinator that it has paid all benefit contributions due and owing to the appropriate Trust(s) or fringe benefit programs prior to the receipt of its final payment and/or retention. Further, upon timely notification by a Union to the Project Labor Coordinator, the Project Labor Coordinator shall work with any Contractor or Subcontractor who is delinquent in payments to assure that proper benefit contributions are made, to the extent of requesting the District or the prime Contractor to withhold payments otherwise due such Contractor, until such contributions have been made or otherwise guaranteed.

This example shows that Assembly Bill 842 proposes a feasible policy. In fact, AB 842 could be expanded to encompass ALL bone fide fringe benefit plans and not just health insurance. Nevertheless, expect the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and individual unions to oppose the bill.

West Sacramento School District Uses Union-Only Apprenticeship Policy to Boot Lease-Leaseback Contractor

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Tonight (April 23, 2015), the board of trustees for the Washington Unified School District (in West Sacramento) will reject a construction company from a lease-leaseback contract because unions will not agree to dispatch apprentices to the company.

The staff report for “Adopt Resolution 1415-22 for the Bryte Career Technical Education Campus Phase #1 Project (Implement the Capital Investment Program for Sustainability Initiatives / Facility Improvements through Measure V Funds)” states the following:

Bid #3, Landmark Construction, was highest bid by almost $1,000,000 (17%). Bidder #1 and #2, the point spread between them was significant (10%) and after the formal interviews the team felt that the best value of the three (3) submittals received was from Bobo Construction (bidder #2). The team began contract negotiations with Bobo Construction to finalize a lease lease-back (LLB) document. Unfortunately, during contract negotiations it was determined that the District’s pre-apprenticeship requirements could not be met by Bobo Construction. As a result, the team is reaching out to Landmark Construction in an effort to negotiate and finalize a contract.

At various times over the past 15 years, construction trade unions have lobbied Northern California local governments for local apprenticeship policies that supplant existing state law. Of course those self-interested policies are meant to cut bid competition and limit workers’ freedom of choice in training programs.

Those policies have been rejected by elected boards at some local governments and passed by others, often after amendments. But until now there has not been a high-profile case in which a construction company lost a major project because of such a policy.

The Washington Unified School District board of trustees quietly passed the union-backed apprenticeship policy in November 2013 that requires all contractors to obtain apprentices from union-affiliated programs. Now unions have been able to use this policy as the basis to get the school district to deprive a Merit Shop construction company of a contract. This action raises the cost of the project by $1 million (17%).

Here is the discriminatory policy: Washington Unified School District Resolution #1314-10 – Resolution Establishing Apprenticeship Graduation and Local Hire Requirements for Hiring on School Construction Projects.

For details, see the email below from the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction to the elected board and administrators of the Washington Unified School District.


From: “Eric Christen”
Subject: URGENT: IMMEDIATE ATTENTION REQUIRED REGARDING BOARD AGENDA ITEM
Date: April 23, 2015 at 9:40:01 AM PDT

Board of Trustees,

As your staff and legal counsel have been unresponsive to our earlier email I am now forwarding this issue on to you.

The Washington Unified School District has implemented illegal pre-qualification requirements and is arbitrarily using these requirements to favor certain construction contractors, certain state-approved apprenticeship programs, and certain apprentices at the expense of others.

On April 21, 2015, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) learned that your selected (but not contracted) lease-leaseback contractor Bobo Construction will not be working on the district’s Bryte Culinary Arts project or on the District Office project. The vague reason given by a district consultant for this decision: “During contract negotiations, it was determined that the District’s Apprenticeship requirements could not be met by Bobo Construction.”

We inquired with Bobo Construction representatives, who informed us they left voice mails and sent emails to the Washington Unified School District asking specifically what requirements it did not meet, how the district determined that it could not meet the requirements, and who determined it could not meet the requirements. Suspiciously but not surprisingly, there has been no official response from the school district.

This unusual and disturbing incident, based on both the current situation and previous attempts to discriminate against non-signatory firms using similar tactics leads us to conclude that unions have engineered this latest episode so as to benefit its members. We will be submitting a public records request to confirm the involvement of union officials in these discussions leading to this decision and to determine specifically why the district ceased communication with Bobo Construction.

Bobo Construction had submitted a pre-qualification questionnaire and was approved and deemed eligible to work on these projects. It also submitted bids by the deadline. We will be checking on this to ensure Bobo Construction complied with every requirement.

Bobo Construction representatives say they typically request Carpenters and Laborers apprentices from the state-approved unilateral apprenticeship programs operated by the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). These programs are approved by the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards to train apprentices on public works projects in Yolo County.

But the Washington Unified School District insists in its regulations that its contractors have to request and train apprentices exclusively from programs overseen by Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees (JATCs) affiliated with trade unions. Unilateral (union-free) apprenticeship programs are not regarded as eligible or legitimate training programs. The attached resolution, that the board approved in November of 2013, is where this language comes from.

Apprentices in these JATC programs pay union dues and fees and their fringe benefits indicated in prevailing wage determinations are paid into union-affiliated trust funds. The district’s decision to only accept apprentices from those programs is clearly favoritism for union apprentices, for union-affiliated apprenticeship programs overseen by Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees, and for construction companies that have agreements to train through union-affiliated apprenticeship programs overseen by Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees.

Nevertheless, to try to keep the peace and comply with this illegal requirement, Bobo Construction contacted representatives of the Carpenters and Laborers unions to arrange for a one-job subscription agreement to use union apprentices on Washington Unified School District projects. By refusing to arrange such agreements (an illegal action), these union officials disqualified Bobo Construction.

Basically, the Washington Unified School District has given union officials the power to decide which contractors get construction contracts at the district. Unions – not contractors – have the authority to dispatch apprentices. A union apprenticeship program can withhold its apprentices from being dispatched to any contractor (including a union contractor) and thus disqualify it.

Subcontractors for Bobo Construction are now reportedly being told that Bobo Construction was “kicked off the job” because it was non-union, and anyone wanting to work at the district better be unionized. Reportedly union officials had been lobbying the elected board of trustees and district administrators and contractors to deny the work to Bobo Construction. We will be submitting a public records request to confirm the extent of these communications.

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction is committed to ensuring that all capable and responsible bidders and their capable and qualified workers are able to work on taxpayer-funded construction projects. Following are the next steps we will be taking to ensure that all contractors, workers, and apprentices are treated equally and fairly:

Submission of the aforementioned public record request the goal of which is twofold: Show who in 2013 gave you the discriminatory language you voted to approve and secondly, what special interests have been involved in seeing that Bobo Construction was rejected in favor of a signatory firm whose bid was $1 MILLION HIGHER.

Undertake a public relations campaign to inform community leaders, the general public, and area media about how staff and elected officials of the Washington Unified School District are breaking the law and manipulating the district’s bidding process to raise construction costs and benefit union special interests. Your decision to choose Landmark Construction over Bobo alone will cost the District $1 million!

We will be researching the origin of this discriminatory apprenticeship requirement(s) and will expose it to the public.

Should this issue not be resolved by the board at your meeting tonight (April 23rd) we will recommend that Bobo Construction file a lawsuit against the Washington Unified School District over its patently illegal apprenticeship requirements.

Finally, a stench of corruption envelopes this entire process. CFEC has been protecting the rights of contractors, workers, and apprentices in California for almost 16 years and I have never seen such a blatant political power play as I have witnessed in the past few days. CFEC will do everything within its considerable resources to see to it that whomever is behind this attempt to play favorites using taxpayer dollars will be held accountable to the people for those actions, especially if public records or other documents unearthed in various stages of litigation reveal what the District has done in pursuit of political ambition.

In conclusion, we encourage you to work with Bobo Construction, which is a well-established company willing to resolve reasonable differences in order to perform the outstanding work that your district expects. The alternative is getting to deal instead with this organization, exceptional for its zeal to expose the bidding corruption eroding many school districts in California.

We look forward to hearing that Bobo Construction is back performing the best work at the best price for the taxpayers and students of the Washington Unified School District. We also look forward to hearing that the Washington Unified School District will no longer implement illegal policies that favor unionized contractors, unionized apprenticeship programs, and unionized apprentices. It’s not necessary, it’s wrong, it’s not desired by the public, and it’s illegal.

You are encouraged to contact me at xxx or xxx.
Sincerely,

Eric Damian Christen
Executive Director
Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction
www.opencompca.com

Chula Vista Elementary School District Puts Project Labor Agreement on Consent Calendar

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The typical Project Labor Agreement deliberation at California local governments often endures for hours, with several dozen speakers pounding away with their arguments and attacks on their opponents. Presiding officers of local agency boards routinely declare that the Project Labor Agreement item has set a record for most submitted speaker cards. Arguably this is the most intense and contentious issue now encountered on the local level in California.

Now the elected board of the Chula Vista Elementary School District is trying to slip a Project Labor Agreement through the process without experiencing the obligatory legislative agonies. The meeting agenda for April 15, 2015 assigns the item to the consent calendar as Item 5P.

See Chula Vista Elementary School District Board of Trustees April 15, 2015 Meeting Agenda with Project Labor Agreement

In 2010, 56% of voters in the City of Chula Vista voted for Measure G, which prohibited the city from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions. Nevertheless, the board decided to put the item on the consent calendar.

Update: at the meeting, a board member removed the item from the consent calendar, and several supporters and opponents spoke on it. The board then approved it on a 4-1 vote.

Public Needs to Be Informed About Project Labor Agreement for Measure L Projects at Cuesta College

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Here’s my email to the Cuesta College (San Luis Obispo Community College District) elected board of trustees and top administrators regarding the sneaky effort to require its construction contractors to sign a “Project Labor Agreement” with unions as a condition of working on projects funded by Measure L. In November 2014, 62.6% of voters authorized the district to borrow $275 million for construction projects by selling bonds to investors.


Subject: Public Needs to Be Informed About Project Labor Agreement for Measure L Projects at Cuesta College
From: Kevin Dayton
Date: February 2, 2015 at 2:42:59 PM PST

Dear Cuesta College Board of Trustees:

I haven’t been able to find any official information provided to voters before Election Day about the plan of Cuesta College to require construction companies to sign a “Project Labor Agreement” with unions as a condition of working on projects funded by Measure L.

To try to alert taxpayers, students, and other interested parties about the Project Labor Agreement plan, I have provided concise information about it to various media entities, including the San Luis Obispo Tribune, KSPY, KCOY, KEYT, KVEC News/Talk 920, the Tolusa Press newspapers, CalCoastNews.com, New Times SLO, the Cuestonian, and Paso Robles Daily News. See below.

Since you had a representative of the Tri-Valley Building and Construction Trades Council make a presentation to the board after Measure L passed, I suggest you invite some local construction company representatives to make a presentation, so that you have a range of viewpoints on this highly-controversial and costly proposal. Were local construction trade associations informed about the December 10 Project Labor Agreement presentation?

Also, shouldn’t Cuesta College officially inform ordinary citizens about the Project Labor Agreement plan, since they will be paying back the principal and interest on the borrowed money obtained through bond issues? I don’t see any News Releases from Cuesta College about it.

Kevin Dayton
President and CEO
Labor Issues Solutions, LLC

———
EXAMPLE

From: Kevin Dayton
Subject: Cuesta College board mtg 2/4 – proposal for union monopoly on construction funded by Measure L
Date: February 2, 2015 at 11:55:28 AM PST
To: xxx

Cuesta College board of trustees is discussing at its February 4 meeting whether its construction contractors should be required to sign a “Project Labor Agreement” with the Tri-Valley Building and Construction Trades Council as a condition of working on projects funded by Measure L.

http://www.boarddocs.com/ca/cuesta/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=9T2V5K7C869E

This plan was kept quiet until 62% of voters approved the bond measure last November. Then the construction unions were invited to make a one-sided presentation about Project Labor Agreements:

http://www.boarddocs.com/ca/cuesta/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=9R3RYG704625

Project Labor Agreements cut bid competition and raise construction costs for the benefit of unions. Here is a 2011 study from the National University System Institute for Policy Research: “Our research shows that PLAs are associated with higher construction costs. We found that costs are 13 to 15 percent higher when school districts construct a school under a PLA.”

http://www.nusinstitute.org/assets/resources/pageResources/Measuring-the-Cost-of-Project-Labor-Agreements-on-School-Construction-in-California.pdf

Your readers might be interested in this proposed policy. Voters had no idea last November that this union plan was going to happen.

Kevin Dayton
President and CEO
Labor Issues Solutions, LLC

Want to Protest On-Site at the California High-Speed Rail Groundbreaking on January 6, 2015 in Fresno?

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A media advisory released by the California High-Speed Rail Authority on December 30 provides an update on how the California High-Speed Rail Authority will host an official High-Speed Rail groundbreaking ceremony on January 6, 2015 in Fresno. (Excerpts from the media advisory are below, or see it on the California High-Speed Rail Authority website.)

The media advisory bluntly tells the public that “This event is open to invited guests and credentialed media only.” But concerned citizens and taxpayers who weren’t invited to the event will express their First Amendment right to freedom of speech by protesting at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Are you interested in participating in the protest? Contact me at (916) 439-2159 or at kdayton [ at ] laborissuessolutions.com for information.


Fresno, Calif. – The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) will join government, community, transportation, business and labor leaders on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 to commemorate the start of sustained construction on the nation’s first high-speed rail system at a ceremonial groundbreaking in Fresno.

WHAT: Official High-Speed Rail Groundbreaking Ceremony
WHEN: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 12:00 p.m.

WHERE: Site of Future High-Speed Rail Station
1625 Tulare Street
Fresno, California 93706

Media Tour Scheduled for 10:00 a.m.

Prior to the groundbreaking ceremony, there will be a tour available to media to highlight progress being made on the high-speed rail program in the Central Valley. Credentialed media on the tour will visit the old Del Monte Plant, which was recently demolished and is now having steel, asphalt and concrete recycled. Media will also view a building that is being prepared for demolition, and interview Authority staff and construction crews working on the first segment of high-speed rail in California.

NOTE: This event is open to invited guests and credentialed media only.