If You Vote to Require Contractors to Sign a Project Labor Agreement, You Will Be Accountable to the People for That Vote

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Here’s an independent expenditure mailer sent to voters by “Defending the Republic Political Action Committee (PAC)” criticizing the voting record of San Joaquin County Supervisor Leroy Ornellas. Ornellas is running in the Republican primary against Assemblyman Bill Berryhill for the 5th State Senate District. Notice the mailer indicates that Ornellas voted (on May 22, 2007) to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) as a condition of building the San Joaquin County New Administrative Building.

Mailer – Bill Berryhill against Leroy Ornellas 2012

As Supervisor, he was the pivotal vote for a $95 million tax-eating county construction project made more costly because it shut out local small businesses from competitive bidding. It was so bad that the Republican Party voted to condemn any GOP office holders who voted for similar sweetheart deals.

On May 22, 2007, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve a Project Labor Agreement as part of a resolution to award a design-build contract for building the new San Joaquin County Administration Building.  It was the first (and to this date, only) government-mandated PLA implemented in San Joaquin County. The PLA was slipped into the resolution quietly, without any public advance notice that an exclusive agreement with unions was in the works. Ornellas voted for it.

The county Project Labor Agreement subsequently received a lot of attention from the San Joaquin County business community and the news media. In response, the San Joaquin County Republican Central Committee passed a resolution and the San Joaquin County Republican Assembly passed a resolution in the summer of 2007 opposing the use of PLAs by local governments in San Joaquin County.

After some initial difficulty, the Golden Gate Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) were able to regularly obtain bidder information for work on the county’s New Administrative Building. The union promise of local contractors on this project was a complete bust, as ABC and CFEC dutifully informed county residents through opinion pieces and letters to the editor published in the Stockton Record, Tracy Press, and Lathrop-Manteca Sun-Post newspapers every time a new round of bidding was completed.

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