UPDATE: Here is a report from the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) about what happened when the board of the West Valley-Mission Community College District considered a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) at its November 13, 2012 meeting:
November 13 was the last meeting for PLA proponent Trustee Chris Stampolis at the West Valley-Mission Community College District and last opportunity for him to get a Project Labor Agreement placed on the agenda…he was able to get one final agenda item to provide direction on Project Labor Agreements on the November 13, 2012 agenda through PLA proponent and Board President Adrienne Grey. Before a packed crowd of union members touting their praise for the union and how it has provided them a career, Trustees Stampolis and Grey pushed for forward action on PLA negotiations in the district, against the recommendation of Vice Chancellor Maduli for the Board to wait to provide direction on Project Labor Agreements until after the December 11 study session on the pros and cons of PLAs. Vice Chancellor Maduli recommended looking at several delivery options as strategies to improve local hire in the district. A pilot PLA on a less complicated project like the Learning Resource Center at West Valley Mission Campus was one of the strategies mentioned in addition to multi-prime and lease leaseback methodologies. After deliberating back and forth on an original motion by Trustee Lucas to wait until the December 11 meeting where staff will bring back information regarding pros and cons about PLAs and a pilot PLA that was ultimately withdrawn, the final motion was to direct staff to pursue the PLA/PSA with the appropriate entity using their discretion and bring it back at a timely future date no later than March in addition to completing the staff study on the pros and cons of PLAs at the December 11 meeting. Motion passed 4-1 with Trustee Heimlich and Trustee Walsh absent.
President Grey touted the PLA as opportunities to be gained by pursuing a Project Labor Agreement as $8 billion of public and private work is currently being built under a PLA in Santa Clara County [according to Neil Struthers, head of the Santa Clara County Building and Construction Trades Council].
Trustee Heimlich voted against the motion. He noted that state law exempted PLAs from labor and wage monitoring and wanted to know what the public would get for a PLA in exchange for higher costs and more labor law violations.
Note: this article is also posted on www.UnionWatch.org as Advancing the Union Agenda: A More Mundane Silicon Valley Ambition.
Almost all of the community college districts located within 50 miles of San Francisco (the Bay Area Community College Consortium) have succumbed to the union political agenda and require their construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with trade unions as a condition of working on taxpayer-funded projects.
(See the current revised list below, which now also indicates the imminent end of fair and open bidding competition at the Ohlone Community College District in Fremont, as reported in my November 8, 2012 article Another Project Labor Agreement in the Works for a California Community College District: Unions Will Control Construction at Ohlone College.)
One of the few holdouts has been the West Valley-Mission Community College District, which includes the cities of Santa Clara, Los Gatos, Saratoga, and Monte Sereno. I regret to report that the celebrated (but somewhat exaggerated) free choice, free mind, free market culture of Silicon Valley is about to experience another intrusion of government into commerce, this time for the benefit of unions.
Through the 2000s, politically moderate college board members resisted the pressure to negotiation a Project Labor Agreement. Leading the charge to ram this union deal through the board of trustees was Chris Stampolis, a Democratic Party activist intent on advancing his own political career with the help of powerful San José union officials.
Trouble arrived soon after 60.1% of voters in the West Valley-Mission Community College District voted for Measure H in November 2004, thereby authorizing the college board to borrow $235 million for construction projects by selling bonds. In May 2005, the West Valley-Mission Community College District issued a request for proposals for construction management services that included notice of a possible Project Labor Agreement, prematurely revealing the union plan to get monopoly control of the work.
Opponents of Project Labor Agreements were ready to respond when Neil Struthers, the head of the Santa Clara Building and Construction Trades Council, made a formal presentation during the May 17, 2007 West Valley-Mission Community College District board meeting about a Project Labor Agreement, at that time disguised as a “Construction Career Agreement.”
A majority of the board was either lukewarm or opposed to the plot of union officials and board member Chris Stampolis to give unions control of the work. Risking retaliation from powerful union interests, the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce issued a letter in 2008 opposing the proposed Project Labor Agreement for West Valley-Mission Community College District Project Labor Agreement. The threat faded – for a time.
In the June 2012 elections, 59.9% of voters approved Measure C, which authorized the board of trustees to borrow $350 million for construction by selling bonds. This time the unions and their allies had a more clever plan to get their government-mandated Project Labor Agreement for taxpayer-funded construction.
The same head construction union official made another presentation about Project Labor Agreements, this time disguised as “Promoting Local Hiring for Future Major Building Projects and Partnering to Develop Construction Industry Educational Pathways.” But this time the Project Labor Agreement presentation was scheduled as a “study session” at a May 8, 2012 “special” board meeting of the West Valley-Mission Community College District.
Notice that the board meeting notice that West Valley-Mission Community College District posted on its web site for the May 8, 2012 special meeting does not include any background information about this special agenda item, perhaps because only ONE side was studied during the so-called study session. Also notice that the West Valley-Mission Community College District failed to post the minutes of this May 8, 2012 special meeting on its web site.
(1) Just because a government entity is based in Silicon Valley doesn’t mean it is diligent or committed to transparency by opening its most controversial business to public scrutiny on the web. Union deals are best done when the taxpayers don’t know about it.
(2) Regarding community colleges, is there any other class of local government in California that manages so much money but has so little accountability to the People? Three times I’ve seen a one-sided, Project Labor Agreement presentation from union officials and their attorneys scheduled for a “special” community college board meeting, with the minutes of this “special” meeting somehow slipping through the cracks and not getting posted on the web for public scrutiny, as is done with the minutes of the regular meetings.
There’s a lot of strange antics still going on at West Valley-Mission Community College District board meetings. At the October 2, 2012 meeting, board member Chris Stampolis again called for discussion of a Project Labor Agreement at a future meeting. Then, at the October 14, 2012 meeting, Stampolis demanded that the minutes be changed regarding his comments on the Project Labor Agreement. He wanted the minutes to state his call for discussion at an October meeting, not a future meeting.
Finally, Chris Stampolis is getting his way. At tomorrow night’s meeting (November 13, 2012), the board of the West Valley-Mission Community College District is scheduled to give direction to the college administration about preparations to impose a Project Labor Agreement on the district’s construction contractors. Mr. Stampolis is obviously emboldened by the November 6 exercise of union political might in California and his own victory in the race for board of trustees of the Santa Clara Unified School District (where he’ll likely push for another Project Labor Agreement in that district to cover construction funded by three bond measures.) He wants to get this Project Labor Agreement in place at the West Valley-Mission Community College District before he leaves for new ambitions, and his proposed directive calls for the college administration to provide a final report on Project Labor Agreements at the December 11, 2012 board meeting.
Here’s the current status of Project Labor Agreements for community college districts in the San Francisco Bay Area:
|Community College District (CCD)||Year as PLA Target||Year of PLA Enacted|
|Peralta CCD (Alameda County)||2004||2004, 2009|
|Chabot-Las Positas CCD (Alameda County)||2003||2006, 2010|
|Ohlone CCD (Alameda County)||2002, 2011||Looks like 2012|
|Contra Costa CCD (Costa Costa County)||2000||2012|
|College of Marin (Marin County)||2005||2008|
|Hartnell CCD (Monterey County)||2004||2004; rescinded 2004|
|Monterey Peninsula College||Not Yet||Not Yet|
|Napa Valley College (Napa County)||2004||Not Yet|
|City College of San Francisco (San Francisco)||2002||2005|
|San Mateo CCD (San Mateo County)||2002||2002, 2007|
|Cabrillo College (Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey Counties)||2004||Not Yet|
|Foothill-DeAnza CCD (Santa Clara County)||2007||2008, 2011|
|San Jose-Evergreen CCD (Santa Clara County)||2006||2011|
|West Valley-Mission CCD (Santa Clara County)||2005, 2008, 2012||Looks like 2012|
|Solano CCD (Solano County)||2003||2004|
|Santa Rosa Junior College (Sonoma County)||2002, 2005||Not Yet|
See my www.UnionWatch.org analysis of why California’s community college districts are inclined to require construction contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions: Unions Increase Control of California’s Community College Boards.