The Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors warns of an item scheduled on the December 11, 2012 meeting agenda of the West Valley-Mission Community College District board of trustees concerning a requirement for contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of working on future construction. Unions are primarily targeting $350 million of work funded by the proceeds of bond sales authorized by voters in June 2012 through Measure C.
This $350 million (plus state matching grants) is borrowed money that taxpayers will pay back to bond investors, with interest.
Debates over the use of Project Labor Agreements at West Valley-Mission Community College District go back to at least 2005: Here Comes Yet Another Project Labor Agreement on a California Community College District.
To attempt to formulate an economic and intellectual argument for controversial Project Labor Agreements, a union-oriented policy organization based in San José called Working Partnerships USA released a report dated October 8, 2012 called Effect of Project Labor Agreements on Local Business Utilization in Santa Clara County, California.
How credible is the Working Partnerships USA report? The California Construction Compliance Group has just released my critical examination: Sixteen Flaws in the October 2012 Working Partnerships USA Argument for Project Labor Agreements on Community College District Construction in Santa Clara County.
While the researchers apparently collected a great deal of data and the authors addressed some interesting questions, the report in its current form includes logical errors, false assumptions, and broad generalizations. This paper identifies at least 16 fundamental flaws in the report:
- The group that produced the report has an overt ideological bias
- The group that funded this report uses the report to help advance its own political interests
- The report inexplicably excludes construction contracts awarded by the fourth Community College District based in Santa Clara County
- The report does not offer its source data for evaluation
- The report does not accurately state what it is measuring
- The report lacks the “economic” analysis expected of an Economic Policy Report
- The report compares two data sets that are rather narrow
- The report does not account for variations in sizes and types of contracts
- Time periods used for the report are vague, arbitrary, and inconsistent
- Key terms in the report are inconsistent and poorly defined
- The report defines local in an absurd way
- The report shows favoritism for certain geographic regions
- The report includes distorted estimates of commute distances
- The report fails to recognize that Northern California is a regional construction market
- The report is fattened with non-relevant and unproven statements
- The report makes uncritical assumptions about the inherent superiority of contracts awarded to local businesses