Tag Archive for Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

West Sacramento School District Uses Union-Only Apprenticeship Policy to Boot Lease-Leaseback Contractor

Tonight (April 23, 2015), the board of trustees for the Washington Unified School District (in West Sacramento) will reject a construction company from a lease-leaseback contract because unions will not agree to dispatch apprentices to the company.

The staff report for “Adopt Resolution 1415-22 for the Bryte Career Technical Education Campus Phase #1 Project (Implement the Capital Investment Program for Sustainability Initiatives / Facility Improvements through Measure V Funds)” states the following:

Bid #3, Landmark Construction, was highest bid by almost $1,000,000 (17%). Bidder #1 and #2, the point spread between them was significant (10%) and after the formal interviews the team felt that the best value of the three (3) submittals received was from Bobo Construction (bidder #2). The team began contract negotiations with Bobo Construction to finalize a lease lease-back (LLB) document. Unfortunately, during contract negotiations it was determined that the District’s pre-apprenticeship requirements could not be met by Bobo Construction. As a result, the team is reaching out to Landmark Construction in an effort to negotiate and finalize a contract.

At various times over the past 15 years, construction trade unions have lobbied Northern California local governments for local apprenticeship policies that supplant existing state law. Of course those self-interested policies are meant to cut bid competition and limit workers’ freedom of choice in training programs.

Those policies have been rejected by elected boards at some local governments and passed by others, often after amendments. But until now there has not been a high-profile case in which a construction company lost a major project because of such a policy.

The Washington Unified School District board of trustees quietly passed the union-backed apprenticeship policy in November 2013 that requires all contractors to obtain apprentices from union-affiliated programs. Now unions have been able to use this policy as the basis to get the school district to deprive a Merit Shop construction company of a contract. This action raises the cost of the project by $1 million (17%).

Here is the discriminatory policy: Washington Unified School District Resolution #1314-10 – Resolution Establishing Apprenticeship Graduation and Local Hire Requirements for Hiring on School Construction Projects.

For details, see the email below from the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction to the elected board and administrators of the Washington Unified School District.


From: “Eric Christen”
Subject: URGENT: IMMEDIATE ATTENTION REQUIRED REGARDING BOARD AGENDA ITEM
Date: April 23, 2015 at 9:40:01 AM PDT

Board of Trustees,

As your staff and legal counsel have been unresponsive to our earlier email I am now forwarding this issue on to you.

The Washington Unified School District has implemented illegal pre-qualification requirements and is arbitrarily using these requirements to favor certain construction contractors, certain state-approved apprenticeship programs, and certain apprentices at the expense of others.

On April 21, 2015, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) learned that your selected (but not contracted) lease-leaseback contractor Bobo Construction will not be working on the district’s Bryte Culinary Arts project or on the District Office project. The vague reason given by a district consultant for this decision: “During contract negotiations, it was determined that the District’s Apprenticeship requirements could not be met by Bobo Construction.”

We inquired with Bobo Construction representatives, who informed us they left voice mails and sent emails to the Washington Unified School District asking specifically what requirements it did not meet, how the district determined that it could not meet the requirements, and who determined it could not meet the requirements. Suspiciously but not surprisingly, there has been no official response from the school district.

This unusual and disturbing incident, based on both the current situation and previous attempts to discriminate against non-signatory firms using similar tactics leads us to conclude that unions have engineered this latest episode so as to benefit its members. We will be submitting a public records request to confirm the involvement of union officials in these discussions leading to this decision and to determine specifically why the district ceased communication with Bobo Construction.

Bobo Construction had submitted a pre-qualification questionnaire and was approved and deemed eligible to work on these projects. It also submitted bids by the deadline. We will be checking on this to ensure Bobo Construction complied with every requirement.

Bobo Construction representatives say they typically request Carpenters and Laborers apprentices from the state-approved unilateral apprenticeship programs operated by the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). These programs are approved by the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards to train apprentices on public works projects in Yolo County.

But the Washington Unified School District insists in its regulations that its contractors have to request and train apprentices exclusively from programs overseen by Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees (JATCs) affiliated with trade unions. Unilateral (union-free) apprenticeship programs are not regarded as eligible or legitimate training programs. The attached resolution, that the board approved in November of 2013, is where this language comes from.

Apprentices in these JATC programs pay union dues and fees and their fringe benefits indicated in prevailing wage determinations are paid into union-affiliated trust funds. The district’s decision to only accept apprentices from those programs is clearly favoritism for union apprentices, for union-affiliated apprenticeship programs overseen by Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees, and for construction companies that have agreements to train through union-affiliated apprenticeship programs overseen by Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees.

Nevertheless, to try to keep the peace and comply with this illegal requirement, Bobo Construction contacted representatives of the Carpenters and Laborers unions to arrange for a one-job subscription agreement to use union apprentices on Washington Unified School District projects. By refusing to arrange such agreements (an illegal action), these union officials disqualified Bobo Construction.

Basically, the Washington Unified School District has given union officials the power to decide which contractors get construction contracts at the district. Unions – not contractors – have the authority to dispatch apprentices. A union apprenticeship program can withhold its apprentices from being dispatched to any contractor (including a union contractor) and thus disqualify it.

Subcontractors for Bobo Construction are now reportedly being told that Bobo Construction was “kicked off the job” because it was non-union, and anyone wanting to work at the district better be unionized. Reportedly union officials had been lobbying the elected board of trustees and district administrators and contractors to deny the work to Bobo Construction. We will be submitting a public records request to confirm the extent of these communications.

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction is committed to ensuring that all capable and responsible bidders and their capable and qualified workers are able to work on taxpayer-funded construction projects. Following are the next steps we will be taking to ensure that all contractors, workers, and apprentices are treated equally and fairly:

Submission of the aforementioned public record request the goal of which is twofold: Show who in 2013 gave you the discriminatory language you voted to approve and secondly, what special interests have been involved in seeing that Bobo Construction was rejected in favor of a signatory firm whose bid was $1 MILLION HIGHER.

Undertake a public relations campaign to inform community leaders, the general public, and area media about how staff and elected officials of the Washington Unified School District are breaking the law and manipulating the district’s bidding process to raise construction costs and benefit union special interests. Your decision to choose Landmark Construction over Bobo alone will cost the District $1 million!

We will be researching the origin of this discriminatory apprenticeship requirement(s) and will expose it to the public.

Should this issue not be resolved by the board at your meeting tonight (April 23rd) we will recommend that Bobo Construction file a lawsuit against the Washington Unified School District over its patently illegal apprenticeship requirements.

Finally, a stench of corruption envelopes this entire process. CFEC has been protecting the rights of contractors, workers, and apprentices in California for almost 16 years and I have never seen such a blatant political power play as I have witnessed in the past few days. CFEC will do everything within its considerable resources to see to it that whomever is behind this attempt to play favorites using taxpayer dollars will be held accountable to the people for those actions, especially if public records or other documents unearthed in various stages of litigation reveal what the District has done in pursuit of political ambition.

In conclusion, we encourage you to work with Bobo Construction, which is a well-established company willing to resolve reasonable differences in order to perform the outstanding work that your district expects. The alternative is getting to deal instead with this organization, exceptional for its zeal to expose the bidding corruption eroding many school districts in California.

We look forward to hearing that Bobo Construction is back performing the best work at the best price for the taxpayers and students of the Washington Unified School District. We also look forward to hearing that the Washington Unified School District will no longer implement illegal policies that favor unionized contractors, unionized apprenticeship programs, and unionized apprentices. It’s not necessary, it’s wrong, it’s not desired by the public, and it’s illegal.

You are encouraged to contact me at xxx or xxx.
Sincerely,

Eric Damian Christen
Executive Director
Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction
www.opencompca.com

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

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

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

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/

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Sonoma County Will Get Its First Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreement: County Projects Over $10 Million

After hearing public comments from 71 speakers and spending hours deliberating on technical aspects of Project Labor Agreement provisions, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors agreed on January 14, 2014 to vote at their next meeting (January 28) on their own version of a policy to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions for projects with construction costs over $10 million.

It’s the first government-mandated Project Labor Agreement in Sonoma County. Board chairman David Rabbitt said that the number of comment cards submitted at the meeting for the agenda item (90 total) was a record.

Back of T-shirts worn by union activists at Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Back of T-shirts worn by union activists at Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Union officials have been lobbying the Board of Supervisors for a Project Labor Agreement for two years. In September 2012, the board considered a policy but did not enact it because a 3-2 majority did not support it.

In the November 2012 election, retiring Supervisor Valerie Brown (who opposed a Project Labor Agreement) was replaced by Susan Gorin, a Santa Rosa City Councilmember who supports Project Labor Agreements. Unions backed her campaign. Gorin defeated Santa Rosa City Councilmember John Sawyer, who opposed Project Labor Agreements, 24,033 votes to 22,251 votes (51.8% to 47.9%). The Project Labor Agreement was then inevitable.

An ad-hoc committee was formed in 2013 to develop a Project Labor Agreement that could win consensus from the Board of Supervisors. After the final version was produced, a business coalition opposed to the Project Labor Agreement proposed their changes, and building trade unions proposed their changes. At the January 14 meeting, the board spent hours compromising and agreeing on various disputed provisions.

In more than 16 years fighting Project Labor Agreements in California, it was the first time I saw elected officials take their jobs seriously to create their own agreement, rather than simply approving a boilerplate model from the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO with a few variations negotiated by staff and union officials. Supervisors emphasized that the policy was for the county, not for special interest groups.

Nevertheless, the adoption of this policy gives unions a foothold to eventually expand it to almost all county construction, provided a solid union-backed majority continues to control the board. For example, Solano County adopted a Project Labor Agreement policy with a threshold of $10 million, but Supervisors approved special exceptions in which contractors were required to sign a Project Labor Agreement, even for a $957,000 project (321 Tuolumne remodel at the county’s Vallejo campus). In addition, the Santa Rosa City Council and the Santa Rosa Junior College board of trustees have voted in the past not to use Project Labor Agreements, and surely unions will again target these local governments. They now have a precedent in Sonoma County.

Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction speaks to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors against the proposed Project Labor Agreement policy.

Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction speaks to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors against the proposed Project Labor Agreement policy.

Background

January 14, 2014 Sonoma County Board of Supervisors – Agenda and Staff Report

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Ad-Hoc Committee Report and Project Labor Agreement

Sonoma County Past and Future Major Construction Projects

Sonoma-Mendocino-Lake Counties Building & Construction Trades Council Proposed Changes

The Coalition Against Sonoma County Project Labor Agreements Proposed Changes

Comparison of Three Versions of Project Labor Agreements

Sonoma County Taxpayers Association Opposes Project Labor Agreement

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Demands Environmental Impact Report for Proposed Policy Giving Unions Monopoly on County of Sonoma Construction Contracts

News Coverage

Push for Worker Benefits on Sonoma County Projects Returns – Santa Rosa Press-Democrat – January 12, 2014

Sonoma County Project Labor Agreements Could Have Lower Cost Threshold – North Bay Business Journal – January 13, 2014

Bringing Blunt Force to Public Works Contracts – editorial – Santa Rosa Press-Democrat – January 14, 2014

Sonoma County Supervisors Appear to Back Project Labor Agreements – North Bay Business Journal – January 14, 2014

County Supervisors Signal Support for Project Labor AgreementsSanta Rosa Press-Democrat – January 15, 2014

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

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

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Exposes CEQA Abuse and Union Deal on San Diego Convention Center Expansion to California Coastal Commission

Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, was the very last public speaker at the California Coastal Commission meeting today (October 10, 2013) concerning a staff recommendation to reject the planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion. This web site describes some of the unsavory aspects of moving this project, including extensive union interference: www.SanDiegoConventionCenterScam.com.

Building this project is expected to cost $520 million (not including interest on bonds) and employ 3000 construction trade workers. Contractors will be required to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions in order to work on this project, despite a ballot measure (Proposition A) enacted in June 2012 by 58% of voters in the City of San Diego. The “Fair and Open Competition” ordinance implemented by that ballot measure prohibits the city from entering into contracts requiring construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions.

After hours of public comments overwhelmingly in support of the expansion project, Eric Christen spoke. He commented on the union abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (aka “greenmail”), the backroom deal that gave unions monopoly control of construction and other privileges (including a specific political appointment), and the brazen circumvention of state and local laws. He submitted more than 700 pages of documents showing exactly what happened. (See the list of links to exhibits at the end of the press release below.)

People in the room were livid about his tainting of community consensus in support of the project. Union representatives booed and screamed insults at him after he finished his comments. One commissioner said he was new and inquired if the Coastal Commission had mandated the Project Labor Agreement.

The Coastal Commission proceeded to ignore its staff recommendation and the objections of an attorney from the Briggs Law Corporation and unanimously certified the changes to allow the Convention Center Expansion to be built.

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


PRESS RELEASE
October 10, 2013
Contact: Eric Christen
(858) 431-6337

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction to Deliver Comments to Coastal Commission Concerning Use of Greenmail by Unions on San Diego Convention Center Expansion Project

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction will deliver documents showing the abuse of CEQA in order to attain a discriminatory Project Labor Agreement on the San Diego Convention Center

SAN DIEGO – The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction’s (CFEC) executive director, Eric Christen, will be attending today’s Coastal Commission meeting in which the approval of the San Diego Convention Center Expansion will be discussed. CFEC will educate the Coastal Commissioners on the exploitation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which was used by labor to attain a discriminatory Project Labor Agreement (PLA) which now covers the project. View the letter that will be distributed below.

“The San Diego Coalition for A Better Convention Center” submitted 436 of the 536 pages of comments concerning the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the San Diego Convention Center expansion project and associated hotel development. The group identified itself as “an unincorporated association of individuals and labor unions”. Less than six months later however, parties representing San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, the UNITE HERE Local 30 union, and their local union affiliates finalized various settlements and a PLA was placed on the project. Once the ulterior objectives were attained, the environmental concerns were generally abandoned. This tactic known as “greenmail” was completed behind closed doors and discriminates against 85% of San Diego’s construction industry.

“This abuse of CEQA must be exposed”, said Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction. “This process is utterly corrupt through and through and is nothing more than a scam designed to enrich a few while sticking it to the vast majority of citizens, taxpayers, and workers of San Diego. It is shocking. The Coastal Commission works on behalf of the People of California, and they need to be informed about how environmental concerns are used as leverage to obtain labor agreements, economic concessions, and political appointments.”

The use of greenmail on this project exemplifies the abuse of CEQA and raises questions as to the legality of this PLA. To address this, CFEC is currently working with stakeholders to prevent this type of corruption and ensure that future San Diego projects cannot be held hostage by labor unions.

###

California Coastal Commission
Suite 2000
45 Fremont Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-2219

Re: Background on Request of the United Port of San Diego to Amend Its Master Plan to Include the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion and Hilton Bayfront Addition

Dear Coastal Commissioners:

Before you vote on October 10, 2013 for or against any resolutions concerning the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion, you should consider and publicly discuss the brazen exploitation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by labor unions during the evaluation of the environmental impact of this project.

Start by examining the extensive and comprehensive comments and exhibits submitted by unions concerning the Draft Environmental Impact Report and Final Environmental Impact Report for the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion, including concerns about sea level rise and view corridors:

  • Union Comments on Draft Environmental Impact Report for San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – June 29, 2012 (see Exhibit A) with exhibits (see Exhibit B)
  • Union Comments on Final Environmental Impact Report for San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – September 19, 2012 (see Exhibit C)

Now examine the weak settlement agreements that allegedly resolved the environmental concerns:

  • Settlement Agreement – Building Trades Unions – San Diego Convention Center – 2012 (ENVIRONMENTAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT FOR THE CONVENTION CENTER PHASE III EXPANSION AND EXPANSION HOTEL PROJECT BY CITY OF SAN DIEGO; SAN DIEGO COALITION FOR A BETTER CONVENTION CENTER; SAN DIEGO COUNTY BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION TRADES COUNCIL; UNITE HERE LOCAL 30; AND BILLIE JOHNSON) (See Exhibit E)
  • Settlement Agreement – UNITE-HERE Union Local 30 – San Diego Convention Center – 2012 (SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT FOR THE CONVENTION CENTER PHASE III EXPANSION AND EXPANSION HOTEL PROJECT BY AND BETWEEN CITY OF SAN DIEGO; BRIGETTE BROWNING; SERGIO GONZALES; AND UNITE HERE LOCAL 30) (See Exhibit F)
  • Settlement Agreement – Various Construction Trade Unions – San Diego Convention Center – 2012 (ENVIRONMENTAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT FOR THE CONVENTION CENTER PHASE III EXPANSION AND EXPANSION HOTEL PROJECT BY CITY OF SAN DIEGO; CITY OF SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL; SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER FACILITIES DISTRICT NO. 2012-1; COALITION FOR RESPONSIBLE CONVENTION CENTER PLANNING; TERRY LUTNICK; CINNA BROWN; AARON MICHAELSON; INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRIC (sic) WORKERS LOCAL 569; UNITED ASSOCIATION OF PLUMBERS & STEAMFITTERS LOCAL 230; SHEETMETAL WORKERS LOCAL 206; AND IRONWORKERS LOCAL 229) (See Exhibit G)

Even as these settlement agreements were finalized, concerns were being raised elsewhere about the effect of rising sea levels because of global warming. This was an issue unions addressed in their DEIR comments but completely ignored in their settlement agreements. What happened?

Timeline: Intense Concern of Unions about Environmental Issues Dissipates

Below is a timeline of incidents related to CEQA concerns about the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion identified by unions and the alleged resolution of these concerns in the context of labor agreements, economic concerns, and political appointments.

  1. On February 22, 2011, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction held a press conference at the San Diego Convention Center to expose and condemn credible reports from reliable sources that labor unions were planning to use administrative and legal procedures under CEQA to block the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion project. Reportedly, unions would refrain from advancing their environmental objections if the city required construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of work.
  2. On June 29, 2012, a group called “The San Diego Coalition for A Better Convention Center” submitted 436 of the 536 pages of comments concerning the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the San Diego Convention Center expansion project and associated hotel development. The San Diego Coalition for A Better Convention Center identified itself as “an unincorporated association of individuals and labor unions” including the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, the UNITE HERE Local 30 union, and their local union affiliates. It was represented by the South San Francisco law firm of Adams, Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo. The letter was 63 pages; exhibits comprised 374 pages.
  3. On September 19, 2012, an official of UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30 declared at the Board of Port Commissioners meeting that the Final Environmental Impact Report required under CEQA was deficient and needed to be withdrawn for revisions. At that same meeting, an attorney from the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo submitted to the commissioners a 42 page letter (with 197 footnotes) on behalf of “The San Diego Coalition for A Better Convention Center” with 250 pages of referenced exhibits. She was given extra time to speak because Tom Lemmon – head of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council – submitted a speaker card and then transferred his speaking time to her. Later in the meeting, Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego County Central Labor Council, rushed in to announce there were problems with the Environmental Impact Report for the convention center. She proposed that the Port Commissioners approve a “tolling agreement” that would extend the statute of limitations for the unions to file a lawsuit.
  4. On September 21, 2012, an email from Mayor Jerry Sanders’ Chief of Staff Julie Dubick to Lorena Gonzalez and Steven Cushman outlined a deal for discussion at a meeting to be held at 2:00 p.m. that afternoon. Unions would drop or settle their environmental objections under CEQA to the proposed San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion. Unions would also drop their lawsuit challenging the structure of a tax assessment to pay back the principal and interest on bonds sold to borrow money for the expansion. Unions would openly and actively support the convention center expansion at the San Diego City Council and at the California Coastal Commission. In exchange, the San Diego Mayor’s Office would facilitate negotiations between the unions and the construction manager at-risk selected for the project (Clark Construction) for a Project Labor Agreement with construction trade unions. Also as part of the deal, the Mayor’s Office would initiate discussions with Marriott hotel management in support of a union position (apparently on behalf of UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30) and appoint someone acceptable to the unions to the San Diego Convention Center Corporation Board of Directors. (See Exhibit D)
  5. On November 8, 2012, parties representing San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, the UNITE HERE Local 30 union, and their local union affiliates finalized various settlement agreements related to the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion. The settlement agreements includes some provisions for minor environmental mitigation but ignored many of the key issues addressed in the comments about the Draft and Final Environmental Impact Reports, including the effects of rising sea levels because of global warming.
  6. Also on November 8, 2012, Mayor Jerry Sanders and Lorena Gonzalez participated in a press conference to announce the settlement agreements. In response to questions from the press following the announcements, participants acknowledged that contractors would be required to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of work.
  7. Also on November 8, 2012, Mayor Sanders appointed Laurie Coskey (the Executive Director of the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice) to the San Diego Convention Center Corporation Board of Directors. (See Exhibit H)
  8. On November 15, 2012, the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council issued a press release formally revealing that contractors would be required to sign a Project Labor Agreement to work on the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion. (See Exhibit I)
  9. On April 23, 2013, the City of San Diego provided a copy of the Project Labor Agreement to the public, less than 24 hours after the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction filed a lawsuit against the city as a last resort after repeatedly failed under the authority of the California Public Records Act to obtain any records of substance about the suspected deal. (See Exhibit J)
  10. On July 2, 2013, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction finally succeeded in obtaining a document (the September 21, 2012 email referenced above) revealing that the office of former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders arranged a secret backroom deal with Lorena Gonzalez to end potential union-initiated legal obstacles to the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion. Previous requests for public records were foiled because the Chief of Staff for the Mayor of San Diego was using a private Gmail address to facilitate meetings between top city officials and top union officials. (See Exhibit D)
  11. On September 12, 2013, a letter from Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez read at a press conference supporting the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion depicts her as being a consistent supporter of the project, as if her CEQA concerns never happened. In addition, the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council issues a letter of support claiming that the project provides “environmental sustainability” because of a few routine design provisions. (See Exhibit K)

As the Coastal Commission works on behalf of the People of California, you should be concerned about how environmental concerns are used as leverage to obtain labor agreements, economic concessions, and political appointments. Once the ulterior objectives were attained, the environmental concerns were generally abandoned.

Sincerely,

Eric Christen
Executive Director
Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

Attachments

Exhibit A: Union Comments on DEIR – Letter – June 29, 2012

Exhibit B: Union Comments on DEIR – Exhibits – June 29, 2012

Exhibit C: Union Comments on FEIR – Letter – September 19, 2012

Exhibit D: Union Deal with Mayor’s Office – September 21, 2012

Exhibit E: Settlement Agreement – Building Trades Unions – November 8, 2012

Exhibit F: Settlement Agreement – UNITE-HERE Union Local 30 – November 8, 2012

Exhibit G: Settlement Agreement – Various Construction Trade Unions – November 8, 2012

Exhibit H: Mayor’s Appointment to San Diego Convention Center Corporation Board of Directors – November 8, 2012

Exhibit I: Press Release of San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council – November 15, 2012

Exhibit J: Project Labor Agreement

Exhibit K: Letter of Support from San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council – September 12, 2013


Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction – P.O. Box 1627 – Poway, California 92074
Tel: (858) 633-6523 – Fax: (760) 690-4471 – www.opencompca.com

The Great Resurrection of 2013! Elected Board of Sacramento City Unified School District Schedules Vote on Dormant Project Labor Agreement

It’s the Great Resurrection of 2013! Someone remembered the ancient Project Labor Agreement implemented for construction at the Sacramento City Unified School District funded by borrowed money authorized by bond measures approved by voters in 1999 and 2002.

September 12, 2013 Board Meeting
6:30 p.m. Open Session

 

See the original 2005 version of this Project Labor Agreement: Sacramento City Unified School District Project Labor Agreement Measures E and I. Also, see the 2009 extension of this Project Labor Agreement: Sacramento City Unified School District Project Labor Agreement Measures E and I Amendment. According to the staff report there will be another Project Labor Agreement implemented for future district construction, presumably for projects funded by borrowed money authorized by Measures Q and R, approved by voters in November 2012.

If the Sacramento City Unified School District required its construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of work, why not follow this outstanding example of fiscally responsible government and impose a Project Labor Agreement on the Sacramento Kings Arena? There will certainly be a show in support of Project Labor Agreements at the board meeting on Thursday, September 12.

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction has issued an appropriately cynical press release about the scheduled vote to extend the Project Labor Agreement at Sacramento City Unified School District.

September 9, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Eric Christen, (858) 431-6337
Sacramento School Board Schedules Sham Vote on Dormant Project Labor Agreement as Media Stunt
Creates Forum for Union Officials and Union-Backed Politicians to Defend Kings Arena Deal

Today the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction accused the elected board of the Sacramento City Unified School District of engineering an unnecessary forum for Sacramento union leaders and union-backed politicians to promote Project Labor Agreements.

“Board members of the Sacramento City Unified School District suddenly saw a desperate need to extend a dormant Project Labor Agreement for four months?” asked Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.

“This silly vote is about the Sacramento Kings arena, not about helping children to learn how to read and write.”

The September 12 school board agenda includes an item to extend for four months a Project Labor Agreement implemented in 2005 for long-completed construction programs funded by Measure E (1999) and Measure I (2002). A staff report indicates plans for a new Project Labor Agreement for future construction, which will be funded by Measures Q and R (2012).

The proposal is obviously under consideration within a larger political context.

On September 4, a public extravaganza at Downtown Plaza organized with unions by Mayor Kevin Johnson’s office to celebrate a Project Labor Agreement on the new Kings arena was undermined when opponents of the union deal exercised their First Amendment rights and showed up to challenge the government propaganda.

“Behind the scenes, everyone acknowledges that the mayor’s press conference for the Kings Arena Project Labor Agreement was a public relations disaster,” said Christen. “One veteran Sacramento political consultant emailed us to say ‘What transpired on Wednesday was one of the best impromptu media events I’ve seen in many years.’”

“Both supporters and opponents of public funding for the Kings arena were disgusted by the political payoff to the unions. Union leaders need a public forum to regain control of their message. They’ve chosen the Sacramento City Unified School District – not a government renowned for its outstanding management and high degree of fiscal responsibility.”

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction will oppose the Project Labor Agreement resolution.

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Response of Eric Christen of Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction to Sacramento Bee Article “Downtown Arena Deal Creates Unlikely Alliances”

The Sunday, September 8 Sacramento Bee newspaper includes an article “Downtown Arena Deal Creates Unlikely Alliances” that makes this observation:

The prospect of a new arena at Sacramento’s Downtown Plaza has caused political foes to unite and groups with opposing philosophies to occupy common ground. Unions and business groups have joined in support of the project, while some left-leaning Democrats find themselves aligned with conservative anti-tax and anti-union interests.

The Dayton Public Policy Institute blog would obviously be labeled as part of “conservative anti-tax and anti-union interests.” But the label is simplistic and based on outdated political paradigms.

I would contend that these new alliances are simply a symptom of a fundamental political realignment going on in the United States and California, in which populist movements on the Left and Right are unifying against the establishment that holds up the structure of Crony Capitalism. The old Republican versus Democrat dichotomy is fading away.

But that is an issue I’ll address at another time (probably in www.FlashReport.org). For now, I provide below – without my editorial comments – an email from Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment, to the two Sacramento Bee reporters who wrote this article.

From: eric christen
Sent: Sunday, September 08, 2013 8:38 AM
To: Dale Kasler; Ryan Lillis
Cc: xxxx; xxxx; xxxx; xxxx; xxxx; Kevin Dayton; xxxx; xxxx; xxxx; xxxx; xxxx
Subject: Regarding Your Piece in Today’s Bee

Your article is pretty good and interesting on many levels but it really fails on three: First, because we fight for the right of all workers (85% of whom locally are union-free) to work on projects and thus oppose PLAs does not make us “anti-union.” That’s the third article that trope has now been used Dale and Ryan and it’s getting tendentious. I have union board members. Now a group that proposes PLAs as a way to discriminate against union-free workers, that group is in fact anti-merit shop and anti-competitive. Interesting how ones ideology allows certain groups to be framed using certain language while exempting others.

Secondly the Bee still has yet to fully connect the relationship between the PLA and union greenmail. Greenmail is where unions use CEQA to hold up projects until such time as the owner “agrees” to a PLA. Then all the union environmental concerns magically go away. This is implied by Mr. Thatch in the last part of the article but it is deserving of its own stand alone article. It is absurd that with Steinberg’s bill on the verge of being passed this week that exempts this project from CEQA delays that this paper has not written on this issue. I mean really?

Lastly, why would you allow two people (Thatch & Ken Jacobs, that latter nothing but a union mouthpiece working for a union “think tank”) to say something as silly as “this would be built union-only anyway” but not call us to get the other side? It is such a silly statement I’m embarrassed they actually said it. If it would be built union-only anyway then why the PLA that forces non-union workers to pay union dues and into union pensions? But even more obvious is the fact that right up the road the $1 BILLION airport project is being built with union and non-union labor and has no PLA. In other words projects of this magnitude (and larger) get built all over America and California without PLAs and with non-union labor. When PLAs are used, which is rare because they are an irrational business decision, their sole intent is to keep big non-union guys like Bergelectric, Rex Moore Electric, and Helix Electric from getting work. They are welfare for a few unions who simply can’t compete for a variety of reasons.

The parts of the article that deal with Mayor Johnson (I like him) and Mark Freidman (a real gentleman) are in fact interesting. I understand why they think they needed to make this deal with union bosses just as I’m sure they understand why I need to stand up for the rights of my people. What I don’t get at the end of the day is what leverage they thought the unions had on this project that would force them to agree to a deal that will only make this project more expensive. Would the unions seriously greenmail this project thus opening themselves up to untold derision and legislative action? Really? Was it just because Steinberg and his ilk said there had to be a PLA? This is the $64,000 question here, a question that cannot be answered seriously with “We needed the PLA to stop strikes and bring the project in on time.”

I hope the Bee will more fully cover the PLA itself and provide historical context as well as how CEAQ conflates with this whole issue. CEQA reform is needed because greenmail is symptomatic of the economic distortions that infect this state and make it an economic laughingstock. PLAs are another one of those distortions and, again, they are related.

As far as what we intend to do we will be holding a press conference soon that will make it very explicit. We view this issue as not just about an arena but about the railyards, the work around the arena, the new Sacramento courthouse, Delta Shores, etc. In other words we are looking big picture and realize that PLA proponents will stop at nothing to keep workers out of a job simply because they don’t belong to their group. That bigotry will be fought by CFEC vigorously and in a non-linear manner.

Remember, we aren’t the bad guys here. We are reacting to actions being taken against us. If the shoe were on the other foot and unions were somehow being targeted those targeting them would not be safe in their homes or places of business, and everyone damn well knows it.

We are different. We just show up at your event and borrow your microphone for a minute or two.

Eric

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction web site is www.opencompca.com.

The “Steinberg bill” giving a CEQA break to the Kings arena project is Senate Bill 743.

Ken Jacobs is affiliated with the University of California Miguel Contreras Labor Program.

Today’s the Day: Union Project Labor Agreement Announced for Construction of New Sacramento Kings Arena

Protest of Sacramento Kings Arena PLA

UPDATE: Critics of the Project Labor Agreement for the new Sacramento Kings arena were aggressive and pierced the orchestrated public relations message advanced by politicians and union officials at Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s September 4 press conference.

Here’s a YouTube video of an excerpt from the press conference.

News Coverage:

Union Deal on Downtown Sacramento Arena Prompts Protest – Sacramento Bee – September 5, 2013

Sacramento Makes Deal to Use Union Labor to Build ArenaSacramento Business Journal – September 4, 2013

Kings, Mayor Announce Union Deal for New Downtown Arena – KFBK News 1520 AM – September 4, 2013

Kings Arena Labor Agreement: Union Wages, Local Workers, No Strikes – Capitol Public Radio – September 4, 2013

Nonunion Labor Groups Outraged By Sacramento Kings Arena Deal – KOVR CBS 13/CW 31 – September 4, 2013 (KOVR also ran a positive story that unions and their political friends anticipated today: Sacramento Kings Arena Deal Would Create Up To 3,500 Jobs)

Worker Groups Clash Over Sacramento Arena Jobs – KCRA NBC 3 – September 4, 2013

Labor Deal Reached for New Sacramento Arena – KTXL FOX 40 – September 4, 2013 (video is the positive story that unions and their political friends anticipated today, but there is another story about opposition to the Project Labor Agreement that is not yet posted on the KTXL FOX 40 web site)

Labor Agreement Struck to Build Arena (starting at 2:35) – ABC 10 – September 4, 2013 (generally the positive story that unions and their political friends anticipated today, with about 30 seconds at the end about opposition to the Project Labor Agreement)


September 4, 2013 – 8:45 am: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, representatives of Turner Construction, union officials, and other dignitaries and community leaders will announce today at noon in downtown Sacramento that construction companies will have to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of working on the new Sacramento Kings basketball arena.

The announcement is being made as California State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is gutting and amending a bill to give special breaks from CEQA to Sacramento Basketball Holdings LLC, the developer of the planned new arena for the Sacramento Kings professional basketball team.

Project Labor Agreements can increase costs of projects because of reduced bid competition. For example, see the 2011 study from the National University System Institute for Policy Research (in San Diego): Measuring the Cost of Project Labor Agreements on School Construction in California. It reports that “our research shows that PLAs are associated with higher construction costs. We found that costs are 13 to 15 percent higher when school districts construct a school under a PLA.”

It appears that reporter Steve Large with KOVR Channel 13 (CBS) News in Sacramento was the first to break the story, at 10:43 pm on September 3, 2013:

Sacramento Kings Owners Finalizing Labor Agreement With Unions For Arena Construction

Here’s a press release just issued by the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction:

September 4, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Eric Christen, (858) 431-6337

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Condemns Union Project Labor Agreement for Taxpayer-Funded New Sacramento Kings Arena
Gut-and-Amend CEQA Exemption Bill is the Reason for Today’s Announcement

Sacramento – The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) – a 15-year old California-based organization dedicated to opposing Project Labor Agreements – declares the Project Labor Agreement for the new Sacramento Kings arena as “a waste of taxpayer money and a payoff to unions to avoid baseless complaints and lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).”

“We have known for years that unions would target the Sacramento Kings arena for a monopoly on construction,” says Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction since 1999. “Today is the official announcement of this costly and discriminatory union deal for a publicly-funded project.”

Christen charges that the announcement about the Project Labor Agreement is happening TODAY (September 4, 2013) because California State Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is gutting and amending a bill to give special breaks from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) specifically for the arena.

“Steinberg needs union lobbyists and Democrats to push through his special CEQA exemption bill,” Christen said. “Requiring construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions locks up majority support in the legislature for this special interest bill.”

Knowing the threat of a Project Labor Agreement on the arena, an alliance of business associations and taxpayer groups led a campaign in 2011 to qualify a ballot measure in the City of Sacramento to prohibit Project Labor Agreements on taxpayer-funded public works projects. Petitions were submitted to the city in December 2011, but the measure failed to qualify because of an unusually high number of invalid signatures.

Christen vows that the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction will make the unions and the Sacramento Kings billionaires accountable to taxpayers and people who park downtown. “Opponents of taxpayer funding for this arena just found an aggressive new ally today.”

Today’s PLA announcement by Turner Construction will take place at noon at Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Sacramento Downtown Plaza Piazza court near Macy’s, K Street between 4th Street and 5th Street. CFEC will be on hand to make sure the voices of Sacramento’s workers, apprentices, contractors and taxpayers are heard.

###

Here are some of my tweets about the announcement of the Project Labor Agreement:

 


Here are various articles about the Project Labor Agreement threat for the Kings arena:

How Are Unions Funding Opposition to a Vote on Public Funding of the New Sacramento Kings Arena? – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – August 10, 2013

Request for Proposal for Prime Contractor for New Sacramento Kings Arena Refers to Project Labor Agreement with Construction Unions – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – July 10, 2013

The Union Quest for a Project Labor Agreement on a New Sacramento Kings Basketball Arena: Part One – 2006 – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – January 21, 2013

Out of Nowhere: Project Labor Agreement and Community Benefit Agreement Tacked on End of Motion for New Sacramento Kings Basketball Arena – www.TheTruthaboutPLAs.com – March 9, 2012

City Council Endorses PLA for Sacramento Arena Project – State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (web site) – March 7, 2012

Pay to PLA? Local Ballot Measures Aim to Curb Union Power on Public ProjectsSacramento News & Review – August 18, 2011

Union Fight Already Brewing on New Kings ArenaSacramento Bee – June 16, 2011

My Article in www.UnionWatch.org – Finally Got It! Secret Union Deal for San Diego Convention Center

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction has never given up its effort to research and expose how the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council obtained a Project Labor Agreement for the $520 million San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion.

In November 2012 it obtained the settlement agreements between the unions and the City of San Diego that ended the union objections under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the union lawsuit against the financing scheme for repaying the bonds. This was reported in my November 15, 2012 blog post Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Obtains City of San Diego Settlement Agreements with Unions for Convention Center.

My April 23, 2013 article in www.UnionWatch.org entitled Persistent Pressure Compels San Diego to Spit Out Project Labor Agreement reported on how the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction finally obtained the Project Labor Agreement negotiated between Clark Construction and the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council for the convention center expansion. It was released by the City of San Diego after the Coalition filed a lawsuit to get the union agreement and other elusive public records.

Now the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction has obtained from the City of San Diego a September 21, 2012 email from a personal Gmail account of the Chief of Staff to former Mayor Jerry Sanders. That email outlines a deal to be discussed at a 2:00 p.m. meeting that day between the mayor and Lorena Gonzalez, former head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council and now a member of the California State Assembly.

My article Finally Got It! Secret Union Deal for San Diego Convention Center posted today (July 8, 2013) on www.UnionWatch.org describes the deal and identifies ten outrages about it.