Archive for Project Labor Agreements

As Predicted! Unions Target Sacramento Kings Arena Ancillary Development Using California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

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Here’s an email I sent to the City of Sacramento Planning and Design Commission about the Sacramento Central Labor Council’s interference in the proposed approval of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Entertainment and Sports Center (the new Sacramento Kings basketball arena). The Planning and Design Commission will consider recommending city council approval of the EIR at its April 10, 2014 meeting. (See meeting agenda for more information.)


From: Kevin Dayton
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 10:54 PM
To: City of Sacramento Planning and Design Commission
Cc: City of Sacramento planning staff
Subject: Planning & Design Commission: Speak Out at 4/10 Meeting Against “Greenmail” – Unions Exploiting CEQA for Economic Objectives on ESC – Kings Arena

Dear Members of the City of Sacramento Planning and Design Commission:

According to an article on the Sacramento Business Journal web site today (Union Group Makes Noise Over Development Around Arena – April 9, 2014), the Sacramento Central Labor Council is demanding that the Planning Commission extract the ancillary development from your proposed approval of the Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the Entertainment and Sports Center Special Planning District (SPD).

Unions threatening to use CEQA as a tool to extract economic benefits such as labor agreements is no surprise to anyone who has followed proposed developments in the Sacramento region over the past 15 years. Look at the history of environmental review for these projects:

  • Sacramento Railyards
  • Sutter Medical Center Expansion
  • Promenade at Natomas
  • Greenbriar
  • Delta Shores
  • Township 9
  • Metropolitan Hotel
  • West Roseville Specific Plan
  • Roseville Galleria Expansion
  • Rio del Oro in Rancho Cordova
  • Placer Vineyards
  • Regional University Specific Plan
  • Roseville Energy Center
  • Cosumnes Power Plant

This new threat from the Sacramento Central Labor Council was expected. I wrote a comprehensive article published in www.UnionWatch.org on March 11, 2014 predicting how the Entertainment and Sports Center Final Environmental Impact Report would be targeted with union CEQA objections as a strategy to get a union Community Benefit Agreement/Project Labor Agreement on ancillary development. (See text below.)

Most of the development partners targeted in this union CEQA greenmail attempt will lay low and wring their hands hoping this costly CEQA exploitation can be settled somehow without raising costs to the point that it jeopardizes the entire project. But as members of the Planning and Design Commission, you have the authority and the responsibility of service to the public to investigate the objectives of these CEQA complaints.

At the April 10, 2014 Planning and Design Commission meeting, please ask the union representatives and their lawyers the following questions:

  1. What does the City of Sacramento and Sacramento Basketball Holdings (SBH) need to do to resolve your concerns about the environmental impact of the ancillary development around the new Entertainment and Sports Center (aka Sacramento Kings Arena)?
  2. Does a Community Benefit Agreement or Project Labor Agreement have to be part of any settlement to relieve your environmental concerns?
  3. Do you believe backroom deals such as this one to end union CEQA objections against the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion are an appropriate way to resolve environmental concerns? (Link to email outlining the deal between the Mayor of San Diego and the head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO)
  4. Who will you designate to negotiate any settlements with the City of Sacramento and Sacramento Basketball Holdings (SBH)?

For a project of such importance for the Sacramento region, the ulterior motives of groups that identify shortcomings under CEQA need to be examined and aired for the public good. Thank you for the courage to investigate and expose this scheme. See you at the meeting.

Kevin Dayton
President and CEO
Labor Issues Solutions, LLC

 

How a Basketball Arena Would Expand the Unionized Workforce in Sacramento: Part 3

by KEVIN DAYTON on MARCH 11, 2014 · LEAVE A COMMENT

This is Part Three, explaining how unions may attempt to win control of the construction and permanent jobs at the ancillary development around the arena. Part One explained the background of how construction trade unions have already obtained a monopoly on the construction workforce for the arena itself. Part Two explained the union plot to monopolize the service jobs at the arena.

Factions in the Construction Industry: Trusting Pragmatism Versus Principled Cynicism

Leaders of the Sacramento regional construction industry were on the sidelines as the new ownership of the Sacramento Kings basketball team privately negotiated a Project Labor Agreement with trade unions for construction of the new downtown arena. Yet construction business associations such as Associated General Contractors (AGC) and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) still supported the city’s plan for the arena.

In a pragmatic decision, these construction associations took the risk to trust that private developers for buildings near the arena will not require their contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements. This development will supposedly include 475,000 square feet of office, 350,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, up to 550 new residential units, and up to 250 hotel rooms, for a grand total of as much as 1.5 million square feet. Up to 11,000 jobs would result.

In exchange for acquiescing to the Project Labor Agreement on the arena, these associations expect fair and open competition for adjacent projects within the city’s Entertainment and Sports District. TheSacramento Bee reported this perspective expressed at a January 27, 2014 rally of contractors and union leaders in support of the arena:

John Cooper of Associated General Contractors said his group, which represents both union and nonunion builders, supports the arena project. “We see an opportunity for huge leaps and bounds when it comes…to job creation,” said Cooper, the AGC’s regional manager.

But Cooper said he’d “pull my support” if the ancillary development – a hotel, retail and more – isn’t open to all bidders. He said “I’ve been assured” there won’t be a project labor agreement covering this ancillary development, like there is for the arena itself.

Political consultant Chris Lehane, who is part of The4000′s leadership, said it’s “premature to ask those questions” about how the ancillary development would be built.

“Our focus right now is to make sure we get those 11,000 jobs,” Lehane said.

A handful of electrical contractors objected vehemently to this arrangement. They felt that allowing unions to have a monopoly on construction of the basketball arena would set a precedent for other major projects in the region. In addition, they did not trust union leaders or the politicians backed by union leaders to resist such a lucrative target once it was definite.

Dissenting from the major trade associations, these contractors individually provided enough campaign funding to revitalize a floundering signature-gathering campaign on petitions for a ballot measure for voters to establish a city charter provision requiring voter approval of a public subsidy for an entertainment or sports facility. Arena supporters feared – and arena opponents expected – that Sacramento voters would approve this check and balance against the proposed $258 million public subsidy for the basketball arena.

Enough signatures were collected to qualify the petition for the June 2014 ballot, but the city clerk disqualified the petitions because of numerous technical errors. The campaign then sued to overturn the city clerk’s decision, but a Sacramento County Superior Court judge agreed with the city clerk’s judgment and also ruled that the city charter could not be amended in this manner.

Can Unions Resist Grabbing More Work Through CEQA Greenmail?

Which of these two positions among bickering groups of contractors will be proven right? One possible indication of the future is an ultra-last-minute attempt by unions to amend a last-minute bill in the California State Legislature providing certain breaks to the arena and surrounding development from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the primary tool of unions to extort concessions from private developers. (This practice is known as “greenmail.”)

Late in the 2013 session, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) amended Senate Bill 743 to make some minor modifications to the California Environmental Quality Act and “expedite judicial review of the entertainment and sports center project” for the Sacramento Kings basketball team. Despite some griping from Left and Right, SB 743 passed 56-15-7 in the Assembly and 32-5-2 in the Senate. This occurred early in the evening of the last day of the 2013 session.

As the midnight deadline for legislative action approached, Assembly Bill 852 mysteriously appeared on the Assembly floor, courtesy of Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento). This bill supposedly made technical corrections to SB 743, passed earlier in the evening.

Reportedly a specific individual senior staffer for the Assembly Republican Caucus became suspicious of the bill and investigated it. This staffer realized that it was some sort of union scheme to remove the CEQA breaks for development around the downtown Sacramento arena.

The Sacramento Bee described what happened next:

In a final flare of end-of-session drama, Assembly Republicans led the defeat of a last-minute labor-inspired cleanup bill related to legislation passed earlier in the evening to hasten the building of a new arena in downtown Sacramento.

Assembly Bill 852 surfaced late on Thursday evening, after both houses had passed Sen. Darrell Steinberg’s SB 743 to streamline the construction of a new arena for the Sacramento Kings. AB 852 was cast as a minor cleanup bill, making just a small change to the arena bill by further restricting which projects could be exempted from some environmental review.

It was requested by labor unions, Steinberg said, who feared that other businesses would get in on the streamlined environmental review procedures intended for the arena.”The concern from labor was that Wal Mart and the big box stores could potentially take advantage of that part of (SB) 743 to get an exemption,” he said.

The 2013 legislative session wrapped up in anger and partisan rancor as the Assembly Republican leadership refused to support AB 852 and accused the Democrats of trickiness. The bill only received 28 votes in the Assembly, and the legislature adjourned for the year with SB 743 intact.

Of course, there was no plan for a Wal-Mart next to the Kings arena. But the distaste of the Left for Wal-Mart provided a politically-potent rationale to “fix” SB 743. An article in Salon provided a perspective on SB 743 otherwise neglected by the news media:

Along with special exceptions for a new stadium for Sacramento’s basketball team, the new law restricts some grounds for CEQA lawsuits. “It’s going to give much more leeway to big companies to just come in and ram these projects through,” said James Araby, who directs the Western States Council of the United Food & Commercial Workers union…

The UFCW and Wal-Mart – and allies on both sides – faced off with particular fury not long before the final SB 743 vote, as legislators considered language labor argued was needed to stop the bill from becoming a loophole for unchecked Wal-Mart expansion…

[Assemblymember Lorena] Gonzalez, a former labor council secretary-treasurer, told Salon that in fights with Wal-Mart, “one of the only tools we’ve been able to use is CEQA, and specifically the traffic impact of Wal-Mart.” Following what she called “massive lobbying by the Chamber of Commerce” and “mainly by Wal-Mart,” the labor-backed amendment failed.

An official with the union-aligned Planning and Conservation League acknowledged in the article that “We all know that Wal-Mart is one of the biggest targets of CEQA lawsuits.”

Is it likely that the amendments backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers union will reappear at the last minute in a budget trailer bill or some other gut-and-amend bill in 2014? Of course it is, and every union will benefit from ending the CEQA break.

More evidence that unions will use environmental laws to target the ancillary development around the Kings arena comes from comments submitted to the City of Sacramento concerning the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Entertainment and Sports District. As noted in Part 2, the UNITE HERE Local Union No. 49 submitted objections to the report along with remarks about wanting to retain and represent service workers at the new arena.

In addition, a group called Sacramento Coalition for Shared Prosperity submitted objections in conjunction with a demand for a “Community Benefits Agreement” that developers must sign for ancillary development. That agreement, modeled on the L.A. Live Community Benefits Agreement for development around the Staples Center, could guarantee “union jobs” for hotels, restaurants, janitors, parking attendants, and construction trade workers, among various occupations.

Perhaps the biggest threat to the downtown arena is the possibility that SB 743 is unconstitutional and that the arena doesn’t even qualify under the criteria in SB 743. If a court agreed with either of these claims, the environmental review would probably need to start from the beginning.

How will the Sacramento Kings basketball team ownership and the City of Sacramento respond to these costly union demands, packaged with the grounds for potential environmental lawsuits? If unions exploit the weakness of SB 743, they may get the whole package – provided the resulting cost increase allows the Entertainment and Sports District to get built in the first place.

The Three-Part Series: How a Basketball Arena Would Expand the Unionized Workforce in Sacramento

 

1. See How a Basketball Arena Would Expand the Unionized Workforce in Sacramento: Part 1 (how construction trade unions have already obtained a monopoly on the construction workforce for the arena)

2. See How a Basketball Arena Would Expand the Unionized Workforce in Sacramento: Part 2 (how unions are likely to win representation of the food and service workers at the new downtown Sacramento arena)

3. See How a Basketball Arena Would Expand the Unionized Workforce in Sacramento: Part 3 (how unions will likely target the ancillary development around the arena)

Sources

 

Union Leaders and Building Contractors Rally in Support of Arena – Sacramento Bee – March 11, 2014

UNITE HERE Local 49 comments on Draft Environmental Impact Report

Sacramento Coalition for Shared Prosperity comments on Draft Environmental Impact Report

California Senate Bill 743

California Assembly Bill 852

Legislature Rejects Late Night Attempt to Tweak Kings Arena Bill – Sacramento Bee – September 12, 2013

Very Sneaky, Walmart: How The Mega-Retailer Rolled Back California Regulations – Salon – October 14, 2013

Regional Sports and Entertainment Facilities in the Urban Core Attract Costly Political Meddling: Sacramento Kings as a Case Study – www.FlashReport.org – December 16, 2013

California High-Speed Rail 2014 Draft Business Plan Doesn’t Depict Project Labor Agreement Accurately or Usefully

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By law, every two years the California High-Speed Rail Authority needs to prepare a “business plan,” which includes publishing a draft at least 60 days before final publication so that the public can review it and submit comments to the Authority about it. The Authority is required to “take into consideration comments from the public hearing and written comments” before publishing the final business plan. It is required to approve the final business plan at a board meeting and publish it by May 1, 2014.

My article California High-Speed Rail Business Plan Misrepresents Project Labor Agreement posted on March 18, 2014 in www.UnionWatch.org identifies ten distortions of just one paragraph of the 2014 Draft Business Plan. That paragraph describes the Authority’s “Community Benefits Policy,” which was implemented for construction through a Project Labor Agreement (“Community Benefit Agreement”) with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.

The Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA), Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of California (CAPHCC), Air Conditioning Trade Association (ACTA), and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) – San Diego Chapter have already submitted comments to the California High-Speed Rail Authority based on my post about how the 2014 Draft Business Plan depicts the Project Labor Agreement:

March 20, 2014 Comments to California High-Speed Rail Authority on Project Labor Agreement.

I analyzed the provisions of the Project Labor Agreement in detail in my January 11, 2013 post in www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com entitled Analysis of the Phony Community Benefits and Other Provisions in the Union Project Labor Agreement for the First Segment of California’s High-Speed Rail. I also explained the origins of the Project Labor Agreement in my April 29, 2013 post entitled Newly Obtained Documents Reveal Which Elected Official Was the Catalyst for the Project Labor Agreement on California High-Speed Rail: Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.

Here is the final version of the Project Labor Agreement:

Project Labor Agreement with Unions for California High-Speed Rail

To submit comments on the depiction of the Project Labor Agreement or other aspects of the California High-Speed Rail 2014 Draft Business Plan, go to High-Speed Rail Authority Releases Draft 2014 Business Plan.

Project Labor Agreement Is Top Concern at Contractor Outreach Event for Sacramento Kings Arena

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Sign for Contractor OutreachToday (March 6, 2014), the City of Sacramento, the Sacramento Kings ownership, and construction manager Turner held a contractor outreach meeting to “start a conversation” with companies interested in potential work opportunities in building the new $447 million Entertainment and Sports Center in downtown Sacramento. More than 250 people registered for the event, and many attendees had to stand in the back of the room.

Line for Contractor OutreachA substantial number of these companies were construction-related firms. I overheard several conversations in which contractors were discussing the requirement to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of work. People were unsure about what this union deal meant for their companies if they won a contract.

Crowd at Contractor OutreachI suspected that the formal presentation at the contractor outreach meeting would evade references to the more reprehensible provisions of the Project Labor Agreement (aka “Community Workforce and Training Agreement”). I also expected that copies of the Project Labor Agreement would not be provided to attendees of the meeting. (Six months after the deal was announced by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson at a September 4, 2013 press conference, the public still does not have access to the union deal.) And in fact the outreach event did not provide copies of the Project Labor Agreement. During the question-and-answer period, I asked when the Project Labor Agreement would be available for the public to see. Attendees were told that it will be on a web site soon, perhaps in a few weeks.

For those curious in knowing more about this minor little issue, a handout was provided at a table at the far side of the meeting room. It had a “Fact Sheet” on one side and answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” on the other side. This handout was referenced by a representative of Turner during his presentation and by the head of the Sacramento-Sierra’s Building and Construction Trades Council during the question-and-answer period.

But the most effective and honest handout at the event was distributed by the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction. Any contractor at the outreach event who read this handout would learn much about the Project Labor Agreement and the politics behind it.March 6, 2014 - Sacramento Kings Arena Contractor Outreach Flyer - Project Labor Agreement - Front

March 6, 2014 - Sacramento Kings Arena Contractor Outreach Flyer - Project Labor Agreement - Back

News Coverage

Sacramento Makes Court Push to Get Control of Former Macy’s Men’s Store – Sacramento Bee – March 6, 2014 (last paragraph reports on workshop and protest against union deal)

Contractors Attend Kings Build Arena Workshop – FOX 40 News (Sacramento) – March 6, 2014

Marin County Citizens Didn’t Know about Project Labor Agreement When Voting in 2013 on Measure F for General Hospital Replacement

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At the January 14, 2014 meeting of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, a representative of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council read a letter dated January 13, 2014 from Jon Friedenberg, Chief Administrative Officer of Marin General Hospital. This was unexpected.

In the letter, Friedenberg expressed his support for Project Labor Agreements. He also noted that a union agreement had been approved with the “North Bay Building Trades” (actually the Marin Building and Construction Trades Council) for the Marin General Hospital replacement project.2014-01-13 Marin General Hospital signed PLA

I was not aware of that government-mandated Project Labor Agreement, although I had assumed that this project would be a union target after 68.49% of Marin County voters approved Measure F, on the November 5, 2013 ballot, to borrow $394 million via bond issues (up to 40 years in maturity) to fund the project.

On January 15, 2014, I began my effort to obtain background about this Project Labor Agreement. I soon found out that the elected Marin Healthcare District Board of Directors had voted on June 11, 2013 to require the future construction management firm to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions.

No opponents or members of the public spoke about the proposal at the June 11, 2013 meeting. One union official spoke in support of it, and Michael Vlaming of Vlaming & Associates made a presentation about it.

The Marin Healthcare District apparently hired Vlaming to prepare an official justification for the Project Labor Agreement. Formerly with Scarth-Lyons & Associates, Vlaming has obtained contracts to justify, negotiate, and administer Project Labor Agreements for local governments such as the Contra Costa Water District and the City of Brentwood.

On March 3, 2014, I finally obtained a copy of the “draft tentative” Project Labor Agreement. It was real, but everyone had overlooked it, for obvious reasons.

Board meeting agendas and minutes for the Marin Healthcare District are not easily accessible for review on its web site. There was no reference to this now-celebrated Project Labor Agreement in the Measure F ballot description (approved by the board on July 16, 2013) or arguments. Unions were not acknowledged even where the ballot argument described an “extraordinary coalition of Marin County leaders” supporting Measure F. No news stories about Measure F referenced the Project Labor Agreement, and a representative of the Marin Independent-Journal newspaper (which endorsed Measure F with a routine argument) admitted that supporters of Measure F had never mentioned it.

Basically, the Project Labor Agreement was hidden from Marin County voters, whose support for Measure F barely exceeded the required two-thirds threshold. If voters had known about the costly Project Labor Agreement monopoly for unions, it probably would have failed.

There was one indication that unions had a commitment for a Project Labor Agreement.

Out of $904,216.64 in monetary and in-kind contributions to the “Citizens for Marin General Hospital – Yes on Measure F – Sponsored by and with major funding from Marin General Hospital” campaign, $834,311.84 came from Marin General Hospital itself. But almost all of the supplemental contributions came from construction unions:

Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Issues PAC in Oakland

$12,004.80

Northern California District Council of Laborers Issues PAC in Sacramento

$10,000

Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local No. 104 Issues Committee in San Ramon

$8,000

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 551 Issues PAC in Sacramento

$5,000

Operating Engineers Local No. 3 Statewide PAC in Alameda

$5,000

San Francisco Laborers Local 261 PAC in San Francisco

$5,000

U.A. (Plumbers) Local 38 COPE Fund in San Francisco

$5,000

Sprinkler Fitters & Apprentices Local 483 PAC in Hayward

$5,000

Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local No. 3PAC in San Leandro

$2,000

Carpet, Linoleum & Soft Tile Workers Local Union 12 in San Jose

$2,000

Glaziers, Architectural Metal & Glass Workers Union Local 718 in San Francisco

$2,000

Painters Local 83 in Petaluma

$2,000

Heat & Frost Insulators & Allied Workers in Benicia

$2,000

California Teamsters Public Affairs Council Issues Account in Sacramento

$1,000

DRIVE – Democrat, Republican, Independent Voter Education (Teamsters) in Washington, DC

$1,000

Teamsters Local Union No. 665 in Daly City

$1,000

International Union of Painters & Allied Trades District Council 16 in Livermore

$1,000

Total from Construction Unions

$69,004.80


Sources

Draft Project Labor Agreement for Marin Healthcare District – General Hospital Replacement Project

Marin Healthcare District Board of Directors June 11, 2013 meeting agenda, staff report, and minutes, with the subsequent Chief Administrative Officer letter endorsing the Project Labor Agreement

November 5, 2013 Marin County Election: ballot description and arguments for Measure F

November 5, 2013 Marin County Election: election results for Measure F

Measure F is about Safety and Modern Hospital Care – editorial – Marin Independent-Journal – September 8, 2013

Campaign Contributions as of September 21, 2013 to Citizens for Marin General Hospital

Campaign Contributions as of October 19, 2013 to Citizens for Marin General Hospital

Campaign Contributions as of December 31, 2013 to Citizens for Marin General Hospital

My Comprehensive Report on Union Interference with Proposed Sacramento Kings Arena: Part 1 – the Arena Project Labor Agreement

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I’ve written several posts on www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com about the efforts of trade unions over the past ten years to win monopoly control of construction for a proposed Sacramento “entertainment and sports center” and future development around it. See New Sacramento Kings Arena for a compilation of these articles.

I’m summarizing the union activities and the response of the Merit Shop in a two-part series in www.UnionWatch.org. Part One of How a Basketball Arena Would Expand the Unionized Workforce in Sacramento describes circumstances related to the planning and execution of a Project Labor Agreement that construction companies would sign with unions as a condition of working on construction of the arena itself.

Part Two will explain the union plot to monopolize the service jobs at the arena and the construction and permanent jobs at the ancillary development around the arena.

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Wants Project Labor Agreement on Sacramento Kings Arena Released to Public

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Here’s a press release emailed today (February 19, 2014) by the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction regarding the Project Labor Agreement for the proposed downtown Sacramento Entertainment and Sports Center (an arena for the Sacramento Kings basketball team).

PRESS RELEASE
February 19, 2014
Contact: Eric Christen
(858) 431-6337

Sacramento, CA – The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction is demanding that the Sacramento Kings ownership and the Sacramento-Sierra Building and Construction Trades Council immediately release to the public a copy of an alleged Project Labor Agreement for the proposed Kings Arena. It is reported that construction companies will have to sign this contract with unions as a condition of building the proposed $447 million publicly-subsidized Entertainment and Sports Center.

“The Project Labor Agreement now plays an important role in the executive and judicial operations of the City of Sacramento,” said Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, a statewide organization that supports fair and open bidding competition on public works projects.

“When will citizens get to see it themselves? When will the city’s political leadership have a chance to review this backroom deal? Why aren’t community leaders interested in verifying Mayor Johnson’s relentless claims about the wonders of this union agreement?” Christen adds.

“I’m guessing there is something embarrassing in that union deal,” said Christen. “The Kings have to suppress it, just like they suppress a public vote on the arena subsidy.”

Beyond the mere fact that a Project Labor Agreement is imposed on a public works project receiving a $258 million public subsidy, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction provides three examples to show why the Project Labor Agreement is a matter of public concern:

  • Mayor Kevin Johnson held a press conference on September 4, 2013 to announce the Project Labor Agreement. (The ill-fated press conference, coordinated by the elite Mercury Public Affairs firm, backfired when opponents of the backroom union deal held their own impromptu press conference immediately afterwards.)
  • At the State of the City address on February 12, 2014, Mayor Johnson extensively cited alleged benefits and conditions of the Project Labor Agreement, including a comment about a provision for homeless people and convicted criminals to build the arena.
  • Unions and community organizations filed a brief in court on February 14, 2014 in support of the City of Sacramento’s position that a petition for a public vote on the arena subsidy failed to qualify for the ballot. The basis for submitting that amicus brief is the alleged Project Labor Agreement.

A public records request submitted by Kevin Dayton of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC to the Office of the Mayor on October 16, 2013 failed to uncover the Project Labor Agreement, although it revealed correspondence about the deal between the mayor’s office, union representatives, and personnel of Mercury Public Affairs, an elite public relations firm working for the Sacramento Kings ownership. Dayton’s public attempts to obtain the backroom union deal and expose it have provoked mockery and derision from supporters of the Kings arena $258 million public subsidy.

“The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction had to sue the City of San Diego in 2013 to wean the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion Project Labor Agreement out of the hands of the wheelers and dealers,” said Christen. “In the process, we also obtained the actual union deal and the complete list of political payoffs to unions from the San Diego Mayor’s office.”

——

Proof We Mean Business – Lawsuit Coughed Up a Union Deal in San Diego in 2013

2013 Lawsuit Against City of San Diego to Obtain Secret Project Labor Agreement:

http://sandiegoconventioncenterscam.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Coalition-for-Fair-Employment-in-Construction-v-City-of-San-Diego.pdf

Secret Convention Center Union Deal Revealed in Private Email of Chief of Staff to Mayor:

http://sandiegoconventioncenterscam.com/new-secret-convention-center-union-deal-revealed-in-private-email-of-chief-of-staff-to-former-mayor-jerry-sanders/

We Got It: The Secret Project Labor Agreement for San Diego Convention Center:

http://sandiegoconventioncenterscam.com/san-diego-convention-center-phase-3-expansion-project-labor-agreement/

###

Unions Virtually Alone in Love with California High-Speed Rail – My Article in www.UnionWatch.org

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Today (January 22, 2014) California Governor Jerry Brown made his annual State of the State speech. Last year, he concluded his prepared speech with remarks about California High-Speed Rail:

Last year, you authorized another big project: High Speed Rail. Yes, it is bold but so is everything else about California.

Electrified trains are part of the future. China already has 5000 miles of high speed rail and intends to double that. Spain has 1600 miles and is building more. More than a dozen other countries have their own successful high speed rail systems. Even Morocco is building one.

The first phase will get us from Madera to Bakersfield. Then we will take it through the Tehachapi Mountains to Palmdale, constructing 30 miles of tunnels and bridges. The first rail line through those mountains was built in 1874 and its top speed over the crest is still 24 miles an hour. Then we will build another 33 miles of tunnels and bridges before we get the train to its destination at Union Station in the heart of Los Angeles.

It has taken great perseverance to get us this far. I signed the original high speed rail Authority in 1982 – over 30 years ago. In 2013, we will finally break ground and start construction.

He even added some extemporaneous remarks, comparing the quest for California High-Speed Rail to “The Little Engine That Could.”

In 2014, his prepared speech (and his actual remarks) barely mentioned it. For good reason: the project is a boondoggle. (See www.CaliforniaHighSpeedRailScam.com.)

My January 21, 2014 www.UnionWatch.org article “Unions Virtually Alone in Love with California High-Speed Rail” list the dwindling number of supporters:

…who would still be eager to proceed with this project besides Governor Jerry Brown, the corporations seeking contracts, and a scattering of citizens committed to various leftist causes related to urban planning and environmentalism? Unions.

In a backroom deal, without any public deliberation or vote, the board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority negotiated and executed a Project Labor Agreement (called a “Community Benefit Agreement”) with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. This agreement gives unions a monopoly on construction trade work and certain construction-related professional services…

When the groundbreaking ceremony occurs for California High-Speed Rail, perhaps in an abandoned Madera County cornfield seized through eminent domain by the Authority, expect thousands of construction union workers to be bused in to block and neutralize any protesters. Governor Brown cannot suffer any more embarrassment over this boondoggle and debacle.

For reasons listed in “Unions Virtually Alone in Love with California High-Speed Rail,” there may never be a groundbreaking.

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Challenges Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Environmental Impact of Project Labor Agreements

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On January 14, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on a policy requiring construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement in order to work on county contracts for projects with a cost exceeding $1 million. This policy has been in the works for a couple of years, and a Project Labor Agreement Ad-Hoc Committee has been developing a possible agreement. (See official county background on the Project Labor Agreement Ad-Hoc Committee that formed and met in 2013.)

The November 2012 election allowed the unions to attain a 3-2 majority on the Board of Supervisors in support of it, after Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Susan Gorin narrowly defeated Santa Rosa Councilman John Sawyer for an open seat held by Valerie Brown. Local elections are meaningful!

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction issued a media alert this morning -(January 8, 2014): Coalition Demands Environmental Impact Report for Proposed Policy Giving Unions Monopoly on County of Sonoma Construction Contracts. It includes the text of a seven-page letter declaring the following:

The County has overlooked statutes and guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and failed to consider how the Project Labor Agreement policy will cause either a direct physical change in the environment or a reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment. Nor has it considered feasible alternatives to the Project Labor Agreement policy that would avoid complications to current traffic patterns or increases in greenhouse gas emissions. To determine and mitigate these impacts and allow for legitimate consideration of alternatives, the County is required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to prepare an Environmental Impact Report.

When the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors first considered a Project Labor Agreement at its September 18, 2012 meeting for the Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport Runway Safety Area (RSA) Improvement Project, staff claimed that a Project Labor Agreement would “help create a sustainable economy” and would be “aiding the County’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” I submitted a letter to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors responding to that unsubstantiated claim.

Here are my past posts about the Project Labor Agreement fight in Sonoma County:

Attention Embattled Sonoma County Taxpayers: Prepare for Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to Vote on Costly Project Labor Agreement Policy – May 19, 2012 – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com

Proposed Union Project Labor Agreement for Sonoma County Might Just Save the Planet… – September 13, 2012 – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com

My Letter to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors: Project Labor Agreement Policy Requires an Initial Study Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – September 17, 2012 – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Abandons Project Labor Agreement Policy; Instead Directs Staff to Negotiate Project Labor Agreement for Sonoma County Airport Expansion – September 19, 2012 – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com

2013 Year in Review – Timeline of Political Activity at State & Local Level for California Public Works Construction

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My January 7, 2014 article “2013: A Dismal Year for Freedom in California Public Works Construction” in www.UnionWatch.org includes a side-by-side chronological timeline of Accomplishments for Advocates of Economic and Personal Freedom and Accomplishments for Construction Trade Unions. It also has an introduction explaining why construction unions had a politically successful year in California in 2013.

I focus the timeline on Project Labor Agreements and government-mandated prevailing wage. There are a few items related to apprenticeship, contractor pre-qualification, and local elections.

Oxnard Union High School District Has Five Days to Negotiate a Project Labor Agreement for a $40 Million New High School

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Last night (November 20, 2013), the board of trustees for the Oxnard Union School District in Ventura County bickered with the school district administration and each other over the terms and conditions of a proposed Project Labor Agreement for a $40 million new school (Rancho Campana High School).

News Coverage: Tension Marks School Building Plans – Ventura County Star – November 22, 2013

Certain members of the school board have been pushing for a Project Labor Agreement at the behest of union lobbyists since their October 9, 2013 meeting. The school district awarded a lease-leaseback contract on October 23, 2013.

The board set a special meeting for Monday, November 25 at 5:00 p.m. to approve a final negotiated version of a Project Labor Agreement. Staff was told to clear their schedules to meet with union officials and representatives of the winning general contractor (S.C. Anderson, Inc.) until a deal is reached.

This morning, I sent this email to Oxnard Union High School District board members, administrators, and the chairman of the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee:


From: Kevin Dayton
Sent: Thursday, November 21, 2013 9:34 AM
To: xxxx
Subject: Oxnard Union HSD Project Labor Agreement Negotiating Terms: San Diego USD Versus Los Angeles USD

Dear Oxnard Union High School District Board Members, Administrators, and Appointed Citizen Leaders:

As indicated during the November 20, 2013 board meeting, a majority of trustees for the Oxnard Union High School District wants to emulate the San Diego Unified School District and the Los Angeles Unified School District when implementing a requirement for construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of winning a contract for $40 million in upcoming construction.

You may not be aware that the Project Labor Agreements for San Diego Unified School District and Los Angeles Unified School District have some fundamental differences related to employer fringe benefit payments. San Diego USD provides some limited flexibility for non-union contractors, while Los Angeles USD is highly restrictive and makes no concessions to non-union construction benefit plans. Below are links to those PLAs and then some analysis of them.

San Diego Unified School District Project Labor Agreement (on school district web site)

Los Angeles Unified School District Project Labor Agreement (The LAUSD “Facilities Services Division website is currently experiencing a temporary problem and working to correct it,” so this link is to the copy on my web site.)

Links to All 189 Project Labor Agreements for Government Projects or Sets of Projects in California Since 1993 (posted on my web site)

By the way, you may need to check with the Tri-Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO to confirm that the finalized proposed Project Labor Agreement for your school district needs to be approved by officials at the national headquarters of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C.

You’re welcome to contact me with any technical questions about Project Labor Agreements, although I am BIASED against such a costly and anti-competitive government regulatory mandate on bidders for taxpayer-funded contracts. (And really, you should be too.)

Kevin Dayton
President and CEO
Labor Issues Solutions, LLC
(916) 439-2159

P.S. – links to your district’s oversight committee documents get a screen that says “THIS IS SOMEWHAT EMBARRASSING, ISN’T IT? It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.”


San Diego Unified School District Project Labor Agreement

At the San Diego Unified School District, the Project Labor Agreement (“Project Stabilization Agreement”) allows a construction contractor to pay employee fringe benefits into its own existing employee benefit plan, provided that the plan is determined to be equivalent to the  union plans to which the contractor would otherwise send payments. A third-party Coordinator or Administrator determines whether or not the programs are equal or better than the union programs.

Here is the language from the San Diego USD 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.

These Project Labor Agreements also explicitly exempt non-union contractors from making employer payments classified as “Other” under California Labor Code §1773.1(a)(7-9) to labor-management committee trust funds or other similar funds.

Los Angeles Unified School District Project Labor Agreement

At the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Project Labor Agreement (“Project Stabilization Agreement”) requires a construction contractor to pay employee fringe benefits into union-affiliated trust funds, even if it has its own existing employee benefit plan that is equivalent to the union plan. When a contractor does not send the money to the union trust funds, the unions and their trust funds sue the school district and the contractor.

Here are some other problems with the Los Angeles USD Project Labor Agreement:

1.  Non-Union Workers in Los Angeles County Under Project Labor Agreement Have Bank Accounts Opened for Them at IBEW Credit Union

Attached is the excerpt from the collective bargaining agreement for the IBEW Local No. 11 about workers’ pay deposited into an account set up for them at the IBEW Local No. 11 credit union, and the signature card for non-union electricians working under the PLA at Los Angeles USD authorizing deposit of pay there and withdrawals for dues payments. Here are links to the documentation:  Master Labor Agreement Provisions for IBEW Credit Union; Forms to Open a Bank Account in Your Name at the IBEW Credit Union.

Why is this PLA requirement offensive? Workers should have the right to choose how they invest the money they earned.  Requiring a percentage of workers’ paychecks to be deposited in a specific credit union takes away that right.  The basis for a successful free market economy is the right of individuals to make their own economic choices.  In addition, workers should not be forced to have their paychecks deposited in a specific bank – they may object to that bank because of how it invests its deposits or how it uses their personal information.  Finally, forcing a percentage of workers’ paychecks to be deposited in a specific bank gives the bank a guaranteed inflow of money, thus taking away the bank’s incentive to provide the best products and services to attract potential depositors.  In addition, this guaranteed inflow may encourage the bank to take excessive risks or make foolhardy investment decisions.

2.  Union Forces Contractors to Pay Journeymen Wages and Benefits to Non-Union Apprentices under Project Labor Agreement in Los Angeles County

A non-union contractor signed a Project Labor Agreement that was part of the bid specifications for a project at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).  The contractor requested apprentices from the applicable International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union program, but then requested apprentices from a non-union program after the IBEW program failed to dispatch apprentices.  The non-union program provided 17 apprentices, who received the appropriate on-the-job training on the project.  Subsequently, the IBEW and its related trust funds sued the contractor in federal court, contending that the contractor should have paid journeymen wages and benefits to the apprentices because they were not dispatched from the applicable union apprenticeship program as specified in the Project Labor Agreement.

On November 3, 2009, a district court judge ruled that the Project Labor Agreement required apprentices to come from union programs.  The judge awarded the union $272,738.63 in underpaid trust contributions, including interest of $55,940.34, along with liquidated damages of $55,940.34 and additional auditor fees of $7,177.50.

Contractors working on public works projects in California must comply with Title 8, Section 230.1 http://www.dir.ca.gov/t8/230_1.html of the California Code of Regulations.  That regulation states “If the apprenticeship committee from which apprentice dispatch(es) are requested does not dispatch apprentices as requested, the contractor must request apprentice dispatch(es) from another committee providing training in the applicable craft or trade in the geographic area of the site of the public work, and must request apprentice dispatch(es) from each such committee, either consecutively or simultaneously, until the contractor has requested apprentice dispatches from each such committee in the geographic area.”  It seems that according to the IBEW, if a contractor working under a PLA does not get enough apprentices from the applicable union apprenticeship program and then complies with §230.1 by requesting and obtaining apprentices from an eligible non-union apprenticeship program,, then the contractor has to pay journeymen-level wages to those apprentices!

3.  Unions in Los Angeles County Can Obtain the Personal Information of Workers and Audit the Books of Contractors Who Sign a Project Labor Agreement

A California appellate court issued a decision on August 16, 2010 of great interest to contractors signing a Project Labor Agreement in Los Angeles County.

Since 2007, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) pension program has filed at least eight lawsuits to obtain pension payments from employers who had signed the Project Labor Agreement to work at the Los Angeles Unified School District.  When the pension program did not have employer contribution reports containing the personal information of the employees, it filed document subpoenas to obtain certified payroll records from LAUSD that exposed the names, addresses, and social security numbers of the employees.  An IBEW pension program official stated to the court that this was easier than auditing the contractor as a way to get the personal information.

LAUSD wanted to clarify in the courts whether or not the language in California Labor Code Section 1776(e) [see below] provided a “conditional privilege” or an “absolute privilege” of confidentiality in certified payroll records.  The appeals court ruled that LAUSD had to provide the personal information on the certified payroll records to the pension program.  It did not address a lower court ruling that §1776(e) was preempted by ERISA.

****Of interest: footnote 3 on page 5 confirms that the Project Labor Agreement at LAUSD requires signatory contractors to submit to the written terms of the applicable trust agreement, which means that in this case the IBEW has authorization to audit the books of non-union contractors.****

One way or another, the IBEW can and will obtain the personal information of employees working for contractors that are signatory to the LAUSD PLA.

4.  Unrelenting Harassment of the Non-Signatory Electrical Contractors in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s $11 Billion of Construction Work: Subscription Agreements

Diana Limon, a compliance officer in Local 11, one of 9 IBEW members who joined 126 fellow unionists at graduation ceremonies. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Dr. Susan Schurman, President of the College, awarded the degrees.

“I encouraged Diana to attend, and I wanted to be there with her,” states Brungard. “She’s exceptional. She was apprentice of the year and then served as a foreman for a local contractor. I know how hard she worked. I know that what she learned at the NLC will make her an even more impressive leader.”

Limon, a Labor Studies major, says: “The positive learning environment and the commitment of my classmates to take their knowledge back to their organizations was phenomenal.” All seniors must complete a research project dealing with an issue affecting their union or the labor movement-to earn a B.A. degree. Limon’s paper focused on the process of getting non-union electrical contractors to subscribe to benefit trust funds established as part of a $11 billion Project Stabilization Agreement between the Orange County Building Trades and the employer, the Los Angeles Unified School District. Limon was awarded a distinguished paper award, along with IBEW members Eugene Parrington and Francis J. Cunningham. They presented the papers in a symposium prior to graduation. Abstracts for each paper are available online here. The papers will be permanently shelved in the George Meany Center library.

http://www.ibew.org/articles/04daily/0407/040707_laborcollege.htm

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