Tag Archive for Associated Builders and Contractors – Northern California Chapter

Project Labor Agreement Negotiations Fail, Government Transparency Is Restored, Ferry Agency Resumes Fair and Open Bid Competition

Fair and open bid competition on a $22 million ferry project funded by California taxpayers was preserved after unions would not agree to provisions proposed by the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority for a Project Labor Agreement. Background about the failed union negotiations was revealed when a government affairs representative for non-union construction trade associations pointed out how the agency board planned to discuss the negotiations out of public view in closed session, in violation of state law.

A short time schedule contributed to the failure of Project Labor Agreement negotiations. On May 1, 2013, the City of Vallejo, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority, and the private developer Lennar Mare Island (LMI) issued a joint press release announcing a new $22-million maintenance, administration, and passenger facility to be built on Mare Island, a part of the City of Vallejo that was the Mare Island Naval Shipyard until 1996.

Despite its potential for prosperity based on a beautiful Bay Area water location and climate, its historic and heritage districts, and its Mare Island redevelopment, the City of Vallejo has been troubled. It filed for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy in 2008, primarily because of excessive commitments to its public employee unions. The city’s political leadership is notorious for catering to the interests of labor unions. Construction trade union officials have lobbied elected officials to ensure that contractors must sign Project Labor Agreements as a condition of working on major public works construction in Vallejo, whether the projects are built by Solano County, the City of Vallejo, the Vallejo City Unified School District, or the Solano Community College District.

This new project – now known as the North Bay Maintenance and Operations Facility – was an obvious union target. At the May 23, 2013 meeting of the WETA board of directors, the agency’s executive director informed the board that Ben Espinoza, president of the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council, had contacted her about the upcoming contractor bidding for the ferry facility. Union officials wanted the WETA board to require construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council as a condition of working on it.

According to the May 23, 2013 WETA board meeting minutes, the executive director told the board that the unions’ “preferred language was currently under review and that she would keep the Board informed on the status of the item.” In response to a question from one board member asking how the agency would implement the Project Labor Agreement, the executive director said that the agency would meet with union officials to negotiate an agreement for the board to approve at its June 2013 meeting. If a final agreement was not ready when the agency released bidding information for the project, the agency would subsequently add it through an addendum.

Agency negotiations with the unions had to be completed quickly. The project would be funded in part by State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funds obtained for the City of Vallejo through the Solano Transportation Authority. In order to use the STIP funds allocated to this project, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority would have to award the contract no later than August 31, 2013.

At the June 27, 2013 meeting, despite the opposition of the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, the WETA board unanimously voted for a resolution requiring construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement. The resolution authorized the agency to modify a draft Project Labor Agreement within 24 hours for inclusion in the bid specifications.

Following the meeting, the executive director of the agency added a modified draft Project Labor Agreement to the July 3, 2013 bid specifications for the project. The Request for Proposals noted that “The final PLA will be released in an addendum to this RFP upon execution by the parties, which we anticipate will occur no later than 10 days prior to the date that proposals are due. A PLA acknowledgement form is also included in this RFP as a form required for submission.”

Here is the text of the Water Emergency Transportation Authority – North Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility – Draft Project Labor Agreement as included in the July 3, 2013 bid specifications. Figuring this would be a done deal, I dutifully added it to the list of Copies of All Project Labor Agreements on California Government Projects (1993-2013) on the www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com web site. I would ultimately have to remove it.

A few weeks later, the first posted July 18, 2013 meeting agenda for the board of the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (created on July 12, 2013) did not refer to any Project Labor Agreement negotiations. But a revised meeting agenda (created on July 15, 2013) included a closed session item to discuss the agency’s Project Labor Agreement negotiations with the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council.

A July 15, 2013 letter from the WETA executive director to the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council president explains the negotiating difficulties leading to this item. Here are some key excerpts:

We have a funding deadline that requires us to be in contract no later than the end of August or we lose significant funding for the North Bay Maintenance and Operations Facility project. We released an RFP for the Phase 1 work two weeks ago that includes the PLA in unexecuted format. However, we cannot go to award of a contract without having finalized the agreement and having it fully executed.

Based on your legal counsel’s representation, it would appear that I have no alternative other than to go to my board at its meeting this Thursday and advise them we will have to pull the PLA from the procurement set. If you think further discussions would be productive, given that I have a limited ability to make further changes, please get back to me immediately. We need to resolve open issues no later than the end of the day on Wednesday…

Please get back to me immediately if you see value in further discussions. Otherwise I have no option other than to advise the WETA board to delete the PLA from the North Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility project procurement.

On behalf of Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA), Air Conditioning Trade Association (ACTA), and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of California (CAPHCC), Richard Markuson submitted a July 16, 2013 letter to WETA pointing out that discussion of the Project Labor Agreement negotiations in closed session was a violation of the California Ralph M. Brown Act, a law meant to insure government transparency and accountability.

The agency changed its plans. Created on July 16, the revised July 18, 2013 meeting agenda was “corrected” to place the Project Labor Agreement in open session as an “urgency item for consideration.”

At the July 18 WETA board meeting, representatives of the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA) called for the agency to negotiate certain provisions into the Project Labor Agreement so that Merit Shop contractors would not be discouraged from bidding. But more stunning was the infighting among representatives of various trade unions, which revealed why the discussion was originally intended for closed session.

A representative of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council spoke against the Project Labor Agreement in its current draft form. The Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104 and the Teamsters union also opposed the draft language.

WETA’s executive director recommended that the board dismiss the Project Labor Agreement. After a month of negotiations, the agency could not reach an agreement with the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council. The attorney with Thompson Coburn law firm negotiating the Project Labor Agreement on behalf of WETA was resisting inclusion of off-site hauling (to and from the job site) and off-site fabrication in the Project Labor Agreement because he believed including these activities would violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Meanwhile, the law firm of Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld, negotiating the Project Labor Agreement on behalf of the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council, has historically upheld a strict model of a Project Labor Agreement that includes off-site work and militantly rejects any provisions that acknowledge the existence of a non-union construction sector. Speaking on behalf of the unions, Sharon Seidenstein of Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld even objected to WETA changing a provision to allow apprentices to be dispatched from any state-approved apprenticeship program (including programs operated by companies or non-union Unilateral Apprenticeship Committees), rather than exclusively from a program operated by a union-affiliated Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC).

WETA’s legal counsel asked the union lawyer for case studies to back her position, which she was unable to do because reportedly no party has yet challenged the inclusion of off-site hauling (to and from a job site) or inclusion of off-site fabrication in a Project Labor Agreement. WETA board members tried to convince union representatives to accept the draft Project Labor Agreement and even recommended limiting apprentices on the project to those from union programs. In the end, the WETA board voted that if the unions did not sign the draft Project Labor Agreement by close of business on July 19, 2013, contractors would not be required to sign a Project Labor Agreement to work on Phase 1 of the project.

On July 19, 2013, unions informed the agency that it would not sign the Project Labor Agreement, and the agency removed the requirement from the bid specifications through an addendum. State taxpayers will now benefit from fair and open competition on this project.

News Media Coverage:

Labor Agreement Could Be in Place for New Ferry Facility on Mare IslandVallejo Times-Herald – June 27, 2013

WETA Adopts Disputed Labor Agreement for Vallejo Ferry Facility – Vallejo Times-Herald – June 28, 2013

Vallejo Ferry Hub Accord in Jeopardy – Vallejo Times-Herald – July 27, 2013

Morning View Studios in Dixon: A Union Project Labor Agreement on an Imaginary Project?

Northern California was stunned last weekend when the Sacramento Bee published an extensive investigative report about the developer of Morning View Studios, a proposed $2.8 billion film studio planned for 300 acres, or maybe even 548 acres, in and near the City of Dixon, in Solano County, west of Sacramento. Reading the June 2, 2013 report (Hollywood Coming to Dixon? Executive’s Financial Troubles Raise Questions) is a painful experience if you empathize with the people who were apparently lured or duped into a scheme that was too good to be true.

The report and related news articles have inspired numerous reader comments referring to the plot of the musical The Music Man or to TV shows in which con artists routinely swoop into small towns to try to victimize the local citizenry. One June 2 armchair psychiatrist, going by the moniker WALLYSMOM, suggested the article evoked “a picture perfect example of someone with Histrionic Personality Disorder with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” (Refer to the DSM for more details.)

I’ve been watching this project because it has been aggressively promoted by officials with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local No. 180, which has jurisdiction in Solano and Napa Counties. Supposedly there was a Project Labor Agreement for the construction of Morning View Studios. (Who negotiated and signed it?)

This is not the first time the IBEW Local 180 has been caught in a large proposed project in Dixon that collapsed in the end. In November 2004, Mike Smith (Michael C. Smith), a business development official with the IBEW Local 180, was elected to the Dixon City Council. During his one term in office, a now-bankrupt Canadian company called Magna Entertainment Corporation proposed a horse racetrack with associated hotel and retail development in Dixon. Unions supported the development after the company committed to sign a Project Labor Agreement for the $250 million Dixon Downs development, and the city council approved the project 4-1. Dixon residents qualified a ballot referendum to stop the project, and in April 2007, 53% of the 5,340 voters overturned the city council votes and ended the dream.

See below for the two educational mailers sent from the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction and what is now the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) to the residents of Dixon informing them about the Project Labor Agreement for Dixon Downs and encouraging them to start asking questions about the behind-the-scenes deal. A press release explains the mailers.

In the early 2010s, a woman claiming to represent big-money entertainment interests proposed building a film studio in Dixon, without need of public subsidies. The economic opportunities for this project obviously got local people very excited, including IBEW Local 180 officials. A major unionized California general contractor, Rudolph & Sletten, became involved as the chosen construction company for the massive project. At the heart of this effort was the aspiration of the IBEW Local 180 leadership that the union would get guaranteed construction work with a Project Labor Agreement and studio work with a Master Labor Agreement.

Here’s the union angle as Morning View Studios moved forward, with key points highlighted in red:

1. IBEW Local 180 Newsletter September-October 2012

Dan Broadwater, Business Manager: I have been working with Morning View Studios for over two years now to bring a facility to our jurisdiction…One of the concerns is the additional cost of a City Planner to process the documentation and follow through the entitlement process. Through our Market Recovery program and the buy in from our Nor Cal NECA partnership, we will assist the City of Dixon in funding the cost of a Planner with a wage and benefit package to get this done. This along with contributions from our Building Trades affiliates to assist with this cost will pay dividends for years to come on not only the new construction but the set work that will be on going at the studios.

It appears a Labor-Management Cooperation Committee was going to reimburse the City of Dixon for the staff costs of preparing this project. These union-affiliated committees are obscure; go to www.LaborManagementCooperationAct.com for an explanation. “Nor Cal NECA” refers to the Northern California Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, a trade association for unionized electrical contractors.

I submitted a public records request about this to the City of Dixon in September 2012 and received a response in February 2013 stating there weren’t any records concerning such a transaction.

2. IBEW Local 180 Newsletter November-December 2012

Morning View Studios in Dixon

Things were moving along great before this Measure N hit Morning View. Deals were struck with the landowners that covered 800 acres of land. The City provided a letter to fast track and streamline the process. Financing is in place, the PLA is done and we are ready to move forward. We were helping Morning View through the approval process so things did not get “hung up”. Then bam, we hit the wall and need your help like never before. This project is currently at a stand still due to Measure N. Measure N kills business and thus jobs; that is an understatement….

Our role currently is to support the No on Measure N campaign and we desperately need members’ support. We were asked to help walk precincts in Dixon, only two brothers helped. Folks, Morning View has signed a PLA to build AND operate this studio with 100% UNION people. We are talking about 1000 construction jobs short-term (2 years) and 300 full-time long-term jobs. Can we get you to help a brother out?

If we do not step up and show human support and kill Measure N, we lose big. Not only the project, but the fact our word of “support” is worthless. It pains me to be that direct but the Local’s reputation is on the line…

January 24, 2013 Morning View Film Studio Update – Mike Smith’s Blog – Dixon California Patch

Comment posted by Mike Smith in response to a critical comment about his blog post:

Both people with and without union membership will have an opportunity to work on the construction of the project. Many private businesses will be supportive vendors to the studio. But to work for the studio – you have to be union – that is what Morning View requires. We have had nonmembers working on PLA’s in the past – membership is not a requirement to get a job through the IBEW and many other unions. Building green requires sourcing materials and labor as close to a project as possible. To assure this, you use specifications for materials and a PLA for labor. A new blog on who will use the studio is coming soon. Mike Smith

The June 2, 2013 Sacramento Bee article exposing the background of the studio developer noted the heavy involvement of the IBEW Local 180:

Among the project’s most ardent supporters in Solano County have been officials with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. On local websites, and at public meetings, union leaders have extolled the virtues of the project and urged public support.

Robert W. Naylor, Carpenter’s Morning View attorney and a former state legislator, recently told The Bee that the IBEW is “prepared to make a major investment of their pension fund” into the movie studio project.

Dan Broadwater, business manager of IBEW Local 180, referred calls to Naylor.

Did the IBEW or NECA-IBEW invest anything in the end? Was there really a Project Labor Agreement? Will everything end up OK, as it did in The Music Man?

Mailers Informing the Residents of the City of Dixon about the Project Labor Agreement on the Proposed Dixon Downs Development of Magna Entertainment Corporation

Read the press release explaining the 2007 Dixon Downs Project Labor Agreement mailers.

Dixon Downs Project Labor Agreement Mailer #1 2007 Front

Dixon Downs Project Labor Agreement Mailer #1 2007 Back

Dixon Downs Project Labor Agreement Mailer #2 2007 Front

Dixon Downs Project Labor Agreement Mailer #2 2007 Back

California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee Rejects Proposed Audit of California High-Speed Rail Project

Nicole Goehring, Government Affairs Director of the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, just provided me with this report (below) about Assemblywoman Diane Harkey‘s failed proposal to the California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee (Senate web site, Assembly web site) at its March 13, 2013 meeting to audit the $68-203 billion California High-Speed Rail Project, the most expensive public works project in history.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is requiring construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California as a condition of working on the first construction segment from Madera to Fresno.

Read Assemblywoman Harkey’s request for audit here: 2013-105: Audit Request of California High-Speed Rail Authority – Construction Package 1. It states the following motivation:

Ensuring that the Authority has proper policies, protocols, and resources in place to manage its contractors prior to breaking ground is critical for protecting passenger safety and controlling costs. Missteps during this early planning period could imperil the project for decades with defective construction, expensive litigation, massive cost overruns and lengthy project delays. An active and prominent role for the State Auditor during these crucial months could ultimately save lives and billions of taxpayer dollars.

The request was co-signed by numerous Republican state legislators (including Dan Logue, whose signature was added late and is not on the version linked above).

ABC Northern California Testifies in Favor of California High Speed Rail Audit in the Joint Legislative Audit Committee

From: Nicole Goehring, Government Affairs Director, Northern California Chapter, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)

On March 13, I attended the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) meeting. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee is statutorily charged with ascertaining facts and making reports and recommendations to the Legislature concerning the State, its agencies, departments and political subdivisions of the State. In carrying out these duties, the JLAC reviews requests for audits from any of the 120 members of the Legislature and approves those requests that are a good use of the resources of the State Auditor.

Six audits were on the meeting agenda for consideration. The committee approved the first two audits without objection: Salton Sea Restoration fund and Military Veterans Employment. Then came Assemblywoman Harkey’s request for an audit of the California High Speed Rail Project, specifically the contracting practices authority given to California High Speed Rail Authority Executive Director Jeff Morales, risk management practices, and land acquisition for the California High-Speed Rail project.

Assemblywoman Harkey said that the California High Speed Rail Authority would spend $1.1 million per day on the project when the land acquisition starts. In addition, the California High-Speed Rail Authority still has not presented a business plan.

Senator Cathleen Galgiani and committee chairman (Assemblyman) Adam Gray objected to the proposed audit because two audits were previously approved in 2009 and 2011. They questioned what could be learned from another audit. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly spoke strongly in favor of the audit. He said the project needs a permanent chaperone and this particular use of public funds needs to be audited every step of the way.

Paul Guerrero from the Associated Professionals and Contractors of California and I spoke in favor of the audit. I also spoke against the government-mandated Project Labor Agreement that contractors must sign with unions to work on Construction Package 1. My testimony can be heard 1:17:47 into the hearing.

Speaking in opposition to the audit – and in favor of Project Labor Agreements – were Cesar Diaz from the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California; Scott Wetch representing the California Coalition of Utility Employees, California State Association of Electrical Workers, and Western States Council of Sheet Metal Workers; Keith Dunn of the Association for California High Speed Trains (representing design, engineering, and construction management firms); and a representative from Our Train: Young Voters for California High-Speed Rail.

In the end, the California Joint Legislative Audit Committee rejected (on an 8-3 party-line vote – Democrats opposed, Republicans in support) Assemblywoman Diane Harkey’s request for an audit of the California High-Speed Rail Project.

I will note that the rejection of this audit request is consistent with the comments of Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal at the February 26, 2013 high-speed rail oversight hearing claiming that there was no interest in rehashing old controversies. Supporters of the project are intent on portraying the numerous problems with the project as resolved and in the past.

Opponents of Project Labor Agreement for Solano Community College District Will Make Formal Presentation to Governing Board

The Vice President of Finance & Administration for the Solano Community College District has asked Nicole Goehring, Government Affairs Director of the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), to make a 15-minute presentation about Project Labor Agreements during the March 6 meeting of the Solano College Governing Board in Fairfield.

The board wants more in-depth background about the ramifications of a proposal to require its construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions. This would be a condition of working on projects funded by borrowed money obtained through bond sales authorized by the $348 million Measure Q, approved by voters in November 2012.

(Union officials and lawyers: in keeping with your consistent views on appropriate limits of freedom of speech, be sure to contact this person and the superintendent-president and demand their withdrawal of the invitation. How dare this college give opponents of Project Labor Agreements a public forum to present their viewpoints?)

Voters were not provided with any indication from the district that unions would have a monopoly on construction work funded by these bond proceeds, although Associated Builders and Contractors, the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA), and the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) tried to alert the public to the district’s history of requiring contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of working on the district’s projects funded by Measure G, approved by voters in November 2002. (See A Thoroughly Documented History of How Solano Community College Requires Contractors to Sign a Project Labor Agreement with Unions for the full details of that history.)

There was a small effort by the Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group to warn voters that Measure Q bond proceeds would be squandered on Project Labor Agreements and other wasteful ventures. But a couple hundred yard signs and letters to the editor could not overcome the $227,600 Yes on Q campaign funded by special interests that feed off the college and its construction projects. (See complete list of contributors below.)

Here are my writings on Project Labor Agreements at Solano Community College District:

Governing Board for Solano Community College District in California Hears Debate Over Project Labor Agreement on $348 Million Bond Measure Q – February 6, 2013

Waste Once, Then Do It Again! Project Labor Agreement on Solano Community College District Board Meeting Agenda – February 5, 2013

Updated Chart! Who’s Paying to Convince Solano County Voters to Take On $348 Million of Additional Debt – Plus Interest – with Measure Q? – October 30, 2012

$348 Million Measure Q for Solano Community College: Yes on Q Campaign Fails to Submit Latest Legally-Required Campaign Finance Report – October 27, 2012

A Thoroughly Documented History of How Solano Community College Requires Contractors to Sign a Project Labor Agreement with Unions – October 21, 2012

Solano County’s Measure Q Looks Vulnerable to Defeat: Will Voters Refuse to Authorize Solano County Community College to Borrow $348 Million Through Bond Sales? – October 20, 2012

California Local Election Report: Construction Bond Measures for School Districts and Community College Districts – Four That Obviously Deserve a NO Vote – October 13, 2012

Contributors to Campaign to Convince Solano County Voters to Approve Measure Q

Total Monetary Contributions: $227,600

DONOR INTEREST AMOUNT
Piper Jaffray Investment Bank/Bond Broker $25,000
Kitchell Construction Construction Manager for Solano College Measure G $25,000
RBC Capital Markets Investment Bank/Bond Broker $18,000
Swinerton Construction Management $15,000
Steve M. Nielsen, MuniBond Solar Bond consultant $10,000
Steinberg Architects Architect $10,000
VBN Architects Architect $10,000
tBP Architecture Architect $7,500
Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Construction trade union $5,000
Sonoma/Napa Counties Electrical Contractors Construction trade union-affiliated Labor-Management Cooperation Committee $5,000
[Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104] Bay Area Industry Promotion Fund Construction trade union-affiliated Labor-Management Cooperation Committee $5,000
Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104 Issues Account Construction trade union $5,000
Robert A. Bothman Construction Construction contractor $5,000
Solano Community College Educational Foundation Construction contractor $5,000
Jelly Belly Candy Company Candy company based in Fairfield $5,000
Stradling , Yocca, Carlson and Rauth Law firm $3,500
WRNS Studio Architect $3,500
Barnes & Noble corporate headquarters Operates Solano College bookstore $3,000
Zampi Determan & Erickson Law firm for community college districts $3,000
United Association Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No. 343 Labor-Management Cooperation Committee Construction trade union-affiliated Labor-Management Cooperation Committee $2,500
Keenan and Associates Insurance broker for school districts $2,500
Timothy B. Kelly Executive with elabra: bond transaction management $2,500
CSDA Architects Architect $2,500
Alfa Tech Engineering $2,500
Sandis Civil Engineers Engineering $2,500
Northern California Mechanical Contractors Association Unionized construction trade association $2,500
Lionakis Architect $2,500
Ratcliff Architect $2,500
B&L Properties Property holding company in Fairfield $2,500
Dannis Woliver Kelley Law firm for school & college districts $2,500
Vanir Construction Management, Inc. Construction management $2,000
Hensel Phelps Construction Company Construction contractor $2,000
Dougherty & Dougherty Architect $2,000
Henley Architects & Associates Architect $1,600
CSW/Stuber-Stroeh Engineering Group Engineering $1,100
Cement Masons Local Union No. 400 Construction trade union $1,000
BCA Architects Architect $1,000
Leland Saylor Associates Construction management $1,000
BRJ & Associates Construction management $1,000
William (Bill) T. Kelly, executive with SunPower Solar contractor $1,000
Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo Law firm for school & college districts $1,000
Stafford King Wiese Architects Architects $1,000
The Lew Edwards Group Political consulting firm in Oakland, works to pass bond measures $1,000
LPAS Architect $1,000
Roy Stutzman Consulting Financial consulting for school & college districts $1,000
Student Insurance Insurance company for school districts $1,000
Daniel Iacofano CEO of MIG – campus planning & design $1,000
KPW Structural Engineers Engineering $750
Creegan + D’Angelo Infrastructure Engineers Engineering $500
MatriScope Engineering Laboratories Engineering $500
PAE Consulting Engineers Engineering $500
TLDC Architecture Architect $500
Devin Conway, engineer for Verde Design, Inc. Landscape architect, engineering, construction management $500
Turley & Associates Mechanical Engineering Group Engineering $500
Noll & Tam Architect $500
Optimal Inspections Inspector $500
Kurt Forsgren, executive with Webcor Builders Construction contractor $500
Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin Metz & Associates Polling firm for political campaigns $500
Denis Honeychurch Solano College Board Member $500
Dovetail Decision Consultants Furniture, fixtures and equipment for educational districts $500
Sylvia Kwan Principal with Kwan Henmi Architecture Planning $500
Andre Stewart, The Doctors Company Candidate for Benicia School Board $250
Gary Moriarty, executive with Kitchell Construction management $250
Teresa Ryland, executive, TRR School Business Consulting Consultant for education administrators $250
Thorton Tomasetti Engineering $250
International Union of Elevator Constructors Local No. 8 Construction trade union $200
Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers Local Union No. 3 Construction trade union $200
Blach Construction Construction contractor $200
Marsha Perry Park, executive with Vanir Group Construction management $100
Jason Reiser, engineer with Miyamoto International Engineering $100
Law Offices of Larry Frierson Lawyer for community college districts $100
Elñora Tena Webb, President, Laney College Peralta Community College administrator $100
Yulian Lisioso Solano College Administrator $100
Sarah Chapman Solano College Board Member $100
Rosemary Thurston Solano College Board Member $100
Anne Marie Young Solano College Board Member $100
James Dekloe Solano College Faculty Member $100
Dee Alarcon President, Solano Community College Educational Foundation $100
Unitemized $50
TOTAL $227,600

Governing Board for Solano Community College District in California Hears Debate Over Project Labor Agreement on $348 Million Bond Measure Q

UPDATE: News Coverage

Solano College Board Weighs Construction OptionsFairfield Daily Republic – February 7, 2013

How Will Solano Community College Spend Bond Funds? – Vacaville Reporter – February 7, 2013 and Interest High in How Solano Community College Will Spend Bond MoneyVallejo Times-Herald – February 7, 2013


George Guynn, Jr., President of the Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group, speaks against the proposed Project Labor Agreement for $348 milllion Measure Q at Solano Community College District, February 6, 2013

George Guynn, Jr., President of the Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group, speaks against the proposed Project Labor Agreement for the $348 milllion Measure Q at Solano Community College District, February 6, 2013.

Representatives of the Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group and various construction organizations, including the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC), the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), and the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA) spoke out at the February 6, 2013 meeting of the Governing Board of the Solano Community College District against a proposed Project Labor Agreement.

Under the proposal, construction companies would be required to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions as a condition of working on projects funded by proceeds from $348 million in bond sales authorized by 63.52% of Solano County voters on November 5, 2012 as Measure Q.

A union official from the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council (Frank Crim) and a union official from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union No. 180 (Dan Broadwater) spoke in support of the Project Labor Agreement. Greg Armstrong of the Northern California Chapter of the unionized National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) claimed that construction under Project Labor Agreements never goes over budget and never garners any complaints or litigation.

John Takeuchi of Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group speaks against proposed Project Labor Agreement for $348 milllion Measure Q at Solano Community College District, February 6, 2013

John Takeuchi of the Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group speaks against the proposed Project Labor Agreement for the $348 milllion Measure Q at Solano Community College District, February 6, 2013.

Following public comment, the Solano College Vice President of Finance & Administration – Yulian Ligioso – made a presentation about Project Labor Agreements that Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction described afterwards as “the worst, most dishonest report I have ever seen, with many outright fabrications…a horrid report.” Clearly it was based on material provided by union lobbyists, and it ignored material provided by opponents. He indicated that a proposed document may be brought to the governing board for their March meeting. Here’s a copy of the staff report outline: Solano Community College District Staff Report on Project Labor Agreements – February 6, 2013.

The official ballot information provided to Solano County voters for the November 5, 2012 election did not indicate that the college district would consider a Project Labor Agreement. Here’s what was on the ballot:

SOLANO COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT MEASURE Q “SOLANO COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT STUDENT / VETERANS’ AFFORDABLE EDUCATION, JOB TRAINING, CLASSROOM REPAIR MEASURE.
“To prepare Solano / Yolo County students / veterans for universities / jobs by: Expanding student, military, disabled veteran access to affordable education; Meeting earthquake / fire safety codes; upgrading employer job placement facilities; Upgrading engineering, welding, nursing / firefighter training centers; Acquiring, constructing / repairing facilities, sites / equipment, shall Solano Community College District issue $348,000,000 in bonds, at legal rates, with citizens’ oversight, annual audits / no money for pensions / administrators’ salaries?”

As the California High-Speed Rail Authority Takes Steps to Ensure the Inevitability of the Train, Opponents Plan to Pack January 23, 2013 Board Meeting

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is moving fast to display tangible, physical signs in the Central Valley of its vision for a high-speed rail planned from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

On January 14, 2013, the obscure California Public Works Board authorized negotiations with property owners to obtain 349 parcels of land between Merced and Fresno for the High-Speed Rail. And yesterday (January 18, 2013) was the deadline for the five pre-qualified design-build consortiums to submit their proposals for the first segment of the High-Speed Rail, complete with their commitments to sign a Project Labor Agreement for the first segment of the California High-Speed Rail with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (an umbrella lobbying group for construction unions).

Central Valley farmers, frustrated middle class taxpayers, populist radio talk show hosts, and disgruntled small business owners see that time is running short to stop this $68 billion project, by far the most expensive taxpayer-funded public works project in American history.

Ordinary people are trying to offset the multi-million dollar taxpayer-funded public relations juggernaut driven by powerful politicians, labor union leaders, executives for architectural, engineering, and construction firms, and environmentalists to lock in their “Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train.” Behind the scenes, bond investors and financial service firms eagerly await the state to exercise its authority to borrow $10 billion (not including interest and transaction fees) by selling bonds.

But the people are finding out more about the High-Speed Rail all the time; for example, the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors is informing ordinary California citizens through talk radio about the Project Labor Agreement. On January 15, 2013, the chapter’s Government Affairs Director Nicole Goehring was on the Chris Daniel Show on KMJ 580 AM & 105.9 FM in Fresno (the relevant segment is 15:00 – 40:45). And KSFO 560 AM in San Francisco named Nicole Goehring their “Watchdog of the Week” for exposing the Project Labor Agreement on the  “Whistleblower” show (the relevant segment starts at 5:40 on the January 16, 2013 morning show).

Yesterday I received an emailed “Important notice RE HSR Meeting Next Wednesday in Sacramento” indicating that a coalition of grassroots citizens organizations planned to attend the January 23, 2013 meeting of the Board of Directors of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. And this morning the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction emailed this notice:

Action Alert

Despite all of the lies and flaky data the $68 billion choo choo train to nowhere has not stopped. After months denying what we all knew was true, we now know that there will be a Project Labor Agreement covering the California High-Speed Rail project. We need your help in order to stop this Project Labor Agreement.

On Wednesday January 23rd, 2013, the first High-Speed Rail Authority meeting will be taking place since the truth behind the hidden Project Labor Agreement came out. We need you, your workers and staff to attend this meeting. You are welcome to come and speak out against this Project Labor Agreement, but it is most crucial that we have bodies showing strong opposition to this agreement. We must send a message that this is bad for the construction industry, and bad for California.

Can we count on you?

When: Wednesday, January 23rd 2013 at 9:30am 

*Meeting starts at 10am but we want to make sure we get seats 

Where: Sacramento City Hall

915 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814   

Please let us know ASAP if you can help by contacting us at info [at] opencompca.com.

Thank you for your consideration.

California High-Speed Rail Contracting Conference in Fresno – January 11, 2013 – Round Table Discussion on the Union Project Labor Agreement

UPDATE (January 11, 2013 at 4:26 p.m.): The round table panelist representing the unions in support of the Project Labor Agreement for the California High-Speed Rail – John Hutson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare Counties Building and Construction Trades Council [no web site] – objected that fellow panelist and Project Labor Agreement opponent Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction was “edging it on” and “smiling it up.” He said “I think I recognize you from before your sex change operation,” and then stormed out of the round table panel discussion, which lasted five minutes. Here’s a video excerpt now on YouTube: Latest Union Assault Against Eric Christen.

(5:09 p.m.) Now the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction has posted another video on YouTube with an excerpt from the Project Labor Agreement panel discussion at the California High-Speed Rail Conference. In it, the head of the Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare Counties Building and Construction Trades Council expresses his astonishment that “some little kid” was handing out information from Associated Builders and Contractors about Project Labor Agreements. He then proceeds to tell a story from “when he was a small boy” about farm life. See the video here: Union Assault on Eric Christen and Children.

(5:59 p.m.) Associated Builders and Contractors of California (my former employer) and the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction just issued a press release with their perspective about what happened at the truncated panel discussion at the High-Speed Rail Conference. See text below. I’ll post the union perspective if it’s released to the public.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: NICOLE GOEHRING
January 11, 2013
CELL: 209-482-1697
CONTACT: ERIC CHRISTEN
CELL: 858-431-6337

Discriminatory Union Agreement Exposed on California High Speed Rail Project

Union Representative Losses His Cool at a High Speed Rail Workshop in Fresno

FRESNO—At today’s High Speed Rail Workshop in Fresno, hosted by the Kern Minority Contractors Association, John Hutson, who claims to be the head of the Fresno Madera Tulare Kings Building Trades Council, stormed out of a panel discussion about Project Labor Agreements (PLA) after it was revealed that a proposed PLA, called a Community Benefits Agreement, will shut out local workers on the California High Speed Rail Project.

“I was astonished when what was supposed to be an honest discussion about PLAs and whether they should be used on California’s High Speed Rail Project fell apart when ABC exposed that the draft PLA was highly discriminatory,” commented Nicole Goehring with the Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California Chapter. “It was sad that Mr. Hutson resorted to personal attacks and stormed off the panel and out of the building.”

Eric Christen with the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, another panelist along with Ms. Goehring and Mr. Hutson was even more offended, “Mr. Hutson couldn’t even have an educated discussion on the matter. In his opening remarks he resorted to name calling, derogatory statements and even hurled insults at my children.” Christen added, “When an organization like the Building Trades Council who claims to be the voice for workers is unable to have a healthy conversation about discriminatory PLAs, how can workers and taxpayers be assured of their true intentions?”

The Associated Builders and Contractors exposed the discriminatory language in the PLA that shuts out a majority of the workers in California’s Central Valley. One example is the referral language on page 16 (section 7.1.2) of the agreement that prevents contractors from hiring their own employees. Not only do workers have to hire all employees through the union hall, they are also prohibited from using more than five of their own employees. This agreement clearly eliminates 83% of qualified workers in California that are not signatory to a union. Where do the unions expect to get the trained workers for this project from out of State?

General Contractor Joe Garcia, a local Fresno contractor specializing in prevailing wage work stated, “I took time away from my workday to be here to discuss this important issue on behalf of my employees that prefer to work in a merit shop environment. The antics displayed today represent the reason why I left the Union many years ago. The taxpayers and voters of California should be deeply concerned about the union favoritism displayed in this agreement.”

To read the PLA, Community Benefit Agreement, go to this link:

http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/programs/construction/RFP_AD8_B2_PtD1_CommunBenefits.pdf

Video from today’s event can be found at: http://youtu.be/0kFhhJJULNA

Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) is a national construction association representing more than 22,000 construction and construction-related firms with 74 chapters across the United States. ABC is the only construction trade association providing value-added services throughout the entire channel of general contractors, specialty contractors, suppliers, design professionals and associates. To learn more about discriminatory PLAs visit www.thetruthaboutplas.com.

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The California High-Speed Rail project will be by far the most expensive public construction project in U.S. history, at a cost now estimated at $68 billion but recently estimated at $118 billion.


At 1:30 p.m. today (Friday, January 11, 2013), a round table discussion about the draft Project Labor Agreement for the construction of the first segment of the California High-Speed Rail is scheduled during the 6th Annual San Joaquin Valley Region Public Contracting / Central Valley High Speed Rail Conference / Expo (Jobs & Contracts).

The discussion will take place at 1:30 pm in the Sequoia Ballroom at the Downtown Fresno Radisson Hotel & Convention Center.

Speaking in OPPOSITION to the State Building and Construction Trade Council of California‘s Project Labor Agreement (Addendum 8 in the California High-Speed Rail’s Request for Proposal) will be Nicole Goehring, Government Affairs Director for the Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California Chapter and Eric Christen, Executive Director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.

See my comprehensive 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.

Here’s a press release sent by the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Press Release
 
January 11, 2012
Contact: Eric Christen
(858) 431-6337

Union Monopoly Agreement for California High Speed Rail Project to be Debated Today

CFEC’s Eric Christen on Panel Discussing Taxpayer and Worker Rip Off

Fresno, CA – CFEC’s Eric Christen has been invited to speak today at 1:30pm in Fresno at the 6th Annual Central Valley High Speed Rail Conference to debate the issue of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on the California High Speed Rail Project. As CFEC and others have been warning taxpayers, owners, and workers about for years, the California High Speed Rail Project will in fact have a union-only Project Labor Agreement (PLA).

The State of California is set to begin spending $5.85 billion to acquire land and build the “initial operating segment” of the California High-Speed Rail. In early 2013, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will award several contracts for this first segment through an alternative bidding procedure called design-build. Five entities that are conglomerates of major engineering and heavy construction infrastructure corporations have qualified to bid under this procedure with “a goal” to have 30 percent of the work go to small businesses. It has now been revealed, despite promises to the contrary, that a union-crafted PLA has been agreed to between the unions and each of the five bidders meaning no matter who wins the bid any subcontractor who wishes to work on this project will have to sign a PLA in order to work.

“We have warned for years that this back room deal would be cut at some level and now we have been proven right.” said Eric Christen, Executive Director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction. “Not content with having every independent state entity that has looked at this boondoggle admit that everything from ridership forecasts to funding sources are flawed, now they had to go pay off union bosses with this PLA scheme just so they can buy off another special interest.”

Christen penned an op-ed that ran this past weekend in the Sacramento Bee (Bullet Train Relies on Distortions, Flaky Data) that specifically highlighted the many problems this project, based on a 19th Century mode of transportation, is having and why all Californians should be opposed to this $68 billion scam.

The panel will debate the issue of PLAs at 1:30pm in the Sequoia Ballroom at the Downtown Fresno Radisson Hotel & Convention Center. The address is 2233 Ventura Street, Fresno.

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Board Members of Silicon Valley’s West Valley-Mission Community College District Hear More Arguments For and Against Project Labor Agreements

According to reports from people at the scene, the usual cast of characters made the usual arguments in conjunction with the Project Labor Agreement staff report at the December 11, 2012 meeting of the board of trustees of the West Valley-Mission Community College District (in the South Bay/Silicon Valley region of the Bay Area).

First the board of trustees received a report from the district’s Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services about Project Labor Agreements, as the board had requested at its November 13 meeting. At that same November 13 meeting, the board had also directed district staff to develop a Project Labor Agreement/Project Stabilization Agreement for projects funded by bond sales authorized by Measure C. The board gave staff discretion to negotiate that agreement as it saw fit for the benefit of the district and to bring the agreement to the board for consideration by March 2013 or the soonest practicable date.

At the December 11 meeting, the Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services asked the board to define its policy objective and warned that a Project Labor Agreement could increase costs with unknown benefit to the district. He noted that construction funded from earlier bond sales (authorized by voters in 2004 as Measure H) was done successfully without a Project Labor Agreement. He also indicated his intent to negotiate a “fair” Project Labor Agreement and pick two similar projects to compare for a pilot project – bidding one with a Project Labor Agreement requirement and one without it.

Clearly the board is split on the issue, with board member Adrienne Grey pushing for the Project Labor Agreement. She complained that the Vice Chancellor’s report was inadequate and tried to rebut the 2011 study on the cost of Project Labor Agreements on California school construction from the National University System Institute for Policy Research in San Diego.

The usual crowd spoke in support of the Project Labor Agreement:

Two among the group of contractors at the meeting to oppose the Project Labor Agreement dared to speak openly against it. Also speaking against the Project Labor Agreement were Eric Christen, Executive Director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, and Nicole Goehring, Government Affairs Director of the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. Ms. Goehring refuted the Working Partnerships USA study, reviewed the recent dismal bid results under the new Project Labor Agreement at Contra Costa Community College District, and reported the latest contractor labor law violations at the San Mateo Union High School District, where contractors are required to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions.

News Coverage:

Education Desk: Project Labor Agreements for Measure C Construction? West Valley-Mission Board Hears ArgumentsThe Santa Clara Weekly – January 2-8, 2013

“I have received voluminous, voluminous material on this topic,” Board President Nick Heimlich noted drily. But that didn’t deter several dozen people who had come out specifically to address the board on the subject from making their statements.

Elected Board of Community College in Silicon Valley Has December 11 Vote on Project Labor Agreement for Construction Funded by Money Borrowed Through Bond Sales

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:

  1. The group that produced the report has an overt ideological bias
  2. The group that funded this report uses the report to help advance its own political interests
  3. The report inexplicably excludes construction contracts awarded by the fourth Community College District based in Santa Clara County
  4. The report does not offer its source data for evaluation
  5. The report does not accurately state what it is measuring
  6. The report lacks the “economic” analysis expected of an Economic Policy Report
  7. The report compares two data sets that are rather narrow
  8. The report does not account for variations in sizes and types of contracts
  9. Time periods used for the report are vague, arbitrary, and inconsistent
  10. Key terms in the report are inconsistent and poorly defined
  11. The report defines local in an absurd way
  12. The report shows favoritism for certain geographic regions
  13. The report includes distorted estimates of commute distances
  14. The report fails to recognize that Northern California is a regional construction market
  15. The report is fattened with non-relevant and unproven statements
  16. The report makes uncritical assumptions about the inherent superiority of contracts awarded to local businesses

The Plot Develops to Require Contractors to Sign a Project Labor Agreement with Unions to Build California’s High Speed Rail

UPDATE: News Coverage of the Project Labor Agreement for California High-Speed Rail

‘Needy’ Workers Will Get Jobs on High-Speed Rail – Fresno Bee – December 7, 2012 (reveals that all five prequalified bidders for the first segment of the California High-Speed Rail project have signed a Project Labor Agreement with unions)

High-Speed Rail in Bed with Unionswww.CalWatchdog.com – December 7, 2012 (provides a thorough background on union officials seeking a monopoly on construction of the California High-Speed Rail project and cites the Dayton Public Policy Institute as a source)


The agenda for today’s (December 6, 2012) meeting of the California High Speed Rail Authority included an item to approve a policy concerning “enhanced community benefits” for construction of the high speed rail system. Construction industry observers believe the High Speed Rail Authority will use this policy as justification for contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions for construction of the rail system (including related structures such as stations).

The policy, approved unanimously by the board this morning, is here: California High Speed Rail Authority – Community Benefits Policy for Construction – December 6, 2012. The approved resolution to approve the policy is here: California High Speed Rail Authority – Community Benefits Policy for Construction – Resolution – December 6, 2012.

This “community benefits” policy seems innocuous on the surface. It is supposed to enhance employment opportunities for economically disadvantaged and low-income workers, veterans, youth, unemployed, homeless, single parents, people with criminal records, etc. and “ensure that California benefits as much as possible,” according to staff. During discussion of this policy at today’s meeting, staff emphasized that it would help with the hiring of veterans and the adoption of pre-apprenticeship programs. (These are customary union talking points in support of Project Labor Agreements).

Staff also reported at the meeting that the policy would be implemented in various ways with “different stakeholders.” I’ve long predicted that the politically powerful stakeholder known as the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California would use a scheme like this to get a monopoly on High Speed Rail construction through a Project Labor Agreement.

The High Speed Rail Authority will be awarding construction contracts using a “design-build” bidding procedure, which means it can use somewhat subjective criteria, in addition to price, as the basis for selecting its construction contractors. This approach to implementing a Project Labor Agreement will allow the board and union officials to avoid controversial and high-profile votes for the High Speed Rail Authority to negotiate and implement a Project Labor Agreement directly with union officials. In addition, the public will remain generally unaware of the Project Labor Agreement, because reporters will have difficulty researching and explaining this complicated procedure.

The High Speed Rail Authority will also avoid accountability for the Project Labor Agreement. It can portray the agreement as a private and voluntary business decision that originates internally with the design-build contractor. There are recent precedents for this approach on large government projects in California.

As I reported last month, Clark Construction has signed Project Labor Agreements for the San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase III and the new Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach. The City of San Diego and the California Administrative Office of the Courts even claim that the Project Labor Agreements are not a matter of public record, and Clark Construction declines to provide them to the public.

Staff told the board that prospective contractors will indicate in their bids how they will fulfill the policy. There will be a monitoring program handled through the High Speed Rail Authority’s auditing committee, and contractors will be penalized for failing to comply.

Marvin Dean calls for fairness and opportunities for all at California High Speed Rail Authority Board Meeting - December 6, 2012.

Marvin Dean calls for fairness and opportunities for all at California High Speed Rail Authority Board Meeting – December 6, 2012.

Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction spoke at the meeting today during public comment against a Project Labor Agreement, along with Nicole Goehring of the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors and Richard Markuson, representing the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA), the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of California (PHCC), and the Air Conditioning Trade Association (ACTA). In addition, Marvin Dean of the Kern Minority Contractors Association spoke during public comment and asked that both union and non-union contractors have the opportunity to work on the High Speed Rail.

Chairman Dan Richard (a former board member of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District – BART) concluded discussion of the proposed policy by remarking on the public comments against a Project Labor Agreement. Richard declared that while no decision has been made about how this policy will be implemented, he attended a meeting yesterday with the minority community, which expressed very strongly that a Project Labor Agreement was the way to achieve the policy objectives. He also claimed that Project Labor Agreements are effective in improving the efficiency of project delivery, reducing the number of conflicts, and providing a way for minority contractors to get work.

Mr. Richard also took a moment after public comment to recognize two important people in the audience: Bob Balgenorth, outgoing head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and former High Speed Rail Authority board member, and Robbie Hunter, the head of the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council, who is the incoming head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.

This Project Labor Agreement Scheme Has Long Been Expected…

See California’s Top Construction Union Officials Love the State’s $100 Billion High-Speed Rail Project, my January 12, 2011 blog post on www.TheTruthaboutPLAs.com that provides a history of union involvement with the High Speed Rail.

I’m not the only observer who sees what’s going on. Here’s the text of a notice sent this morning by the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction:

PLA ALERT!: CA High Speed Rail Authority to Vote on Union-Only Project Labor Agreement TODAY!

Today at 10:00am at City Hall in Sacramento, the California High Speed Rail Authority will be doing something we have warned about ever since this ill conceived, deceitfully presented plan to create a slower and more expensive way to travel verses flying was concocted: Have this 19th Century choo-choo train built with union-only labor by way of a Project Labor Agreement or “PLA”.  That should help keep this projects runaway costs down.

Because of CFEC’s pointed questioning of Authority staff and board members at previous meetings regarding a PLA, they have been forced to state there would’t be a PLA.  So what they have done now is give this PLA the euphemism “Community Benefit Agreement.”

You can watch the proceedings live by going here.

CFEC and others have been warning taxpayers, owners, and workers for years about the fact that the California High Speed Rail Authority is a prime target for a union-only Project Labor Agreement (PLA).

With Senate Bill 1029 having passed the State is set to spend $5.85 billion to acquire land and build the “initial operating segment” of the California High-Speed Rail. This month the California High-Speed Rail Authority is scheduled to award several contracts for this first segment through an alternative bidding procedure called design-build. Five entities that are conglomerates of major engineering and heavy construction infrastructure corporations have qualified to bid under this procedure with “a goal” to have 30 percent of the work go to small businesses.

Instead of awarding contracts to design the project and then awarding contracts to the lowest responsible bidder to build it, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is authorized to award contracts to qualified corporate entities that combine project design AND construction work.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority will select the design-build entities using a somewhat subjective list of “best value criteria” that could result in design-build entities winning contracts without being the lowest price. The State Public Works Board, which will oversee the awarding of the project, and the California Department of Finance, will approve the criteria to award the design-build contract.

As required by SB 1029, by October 1, 2012, prior to awarding a contract to start construction of the first segment of the California High-Speed Rail, and prior to advertising additional contracts to be awarded in September 2013 and October 2013, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will provide a comprehensive staff management report that includes a list of “proposed steps and procedures that will be employed to ensure adequate oversight and management of contractors involved in the construction contracts funded in this act.” The California High-Speed Rail Authority will also need to submit a report with the same content requirements before additional contracts are awarded in March 2017.

With the eight-member Board of Directors of the California High-Speed Rail Authority including or having included union bosses like Bob Balgenorth, recent head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, this was pretty easy to see coming.  But we will continue to expose it to California taxpayers and fight it.

At today’s meeting CFEC’s Eric Christen, among others, will be asking tough questions about the CBA. The meeting will be held at 10:00am at Sacramento City Hall located at 915 I Street in downtown Sacramento.

Contact Eric Christen at (858) 431-6337 for more information.

News Media Coverage:

Approved Policy Targets Disadvantaged People for High-Speed Rail Jobs – Fresno Bee – December 6, 2012