Tag Archive for Eric Christen

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

Getting to the Bottom of it: Backroom Administrative/Executive Deliberation Leading to Project Labor Agreement on California High-Speed Rail

UPDATE: I emailed this message to the California High-Speed Rail Authority at 4:51 p.m. on Friday, December 20, 2013:

Today is December 20, 2013, the date cited in the last correspondence from the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

“Under Government Code §6253(a), the Authority invoked a 14 day extension in order to further research your request and make a determination. A determination letter would be sent to you no later than November 18, 2013. The Authority will provide all responsive documents to you by December 20, 2013.”

http://laborissuessolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2013-11-18-CaHSRA-letter-to-Dayton-on-Public-Records-Request.pdf

Any news on progress to fulfill the October 24, 2013 request?

At 5:58 p.m., the California High-Speed Rail Authority emailed me this letter notifying me that “The amount of electronic records that are responsive to your request are too large to send via email. A CD-ROM with electronic records will be sent via U.S. Mail to your attention no later than December 20, 2013.”

December 20, 2013 California High-Speed Rail Authority Letter to Kevin Dayton on Public Records Request

Then, at 6:14 p.m., the California High-Speed Rail Authority emailed me this batch of letters:

Associated Builders and Contractors of California – State Building and Construction Trades Council of California – California High-Speed Rail Authority 2013 letter exchange on Project Labor Agreement

UPDATE: In a November 18, 2013 letter, the California High-Speed Rail Authority informed me that it will provide me with the requested public records by December 20, 2013.

UPDATE: In a November 4, 2013 letter, the California High-Speed Rail Authority informed me that it is taking an additional 14 days (as allowed by law) to provide me with the requested public records.


On April 29, 2013, I posted the results of my request to the Fresno County Workforce Investment Board for public records related to the development of the Project Labor Agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California for construction of the California High-Speed Rail system. (See Newly Obtained Documents Reveal Which Elected Official Was the Catalyst for the Project Labor Agreement on California High-Speed Rail: Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.)

I also listed seven questions that remain to be answered about how this costly union construction monopoly was implemented. It was done without any public discussion or vote by the board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, obviously because public scrutiny and discussion would have further damaged its reputation in California and even in Washington, D.C.

Today I submitted another request for public records related to the Project Labor Agreement, this time directly to the California High-Speed Rail Authority. I expect these records will answer those seven questions and give the public a complete picture of the backroom wheeling and dealing.


From: Kevin Dayton [mailto:kdayton@laborissuessolutions.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2013 10:45 AM
To: ‘records@hsr.ca.gov’; ‘xxxxx’
Subject: Public Records Request to California High-Speed Rail Authority: Community Benefits Agreement/Project Labor Agreement

October 24, 2013

Lisa Marie Alley
Assistant Deputy Director of Communications
California High-Speed Rail Authority
770 L Street, Suite 800
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: Public Records Request – Community Benefits Agreement/Project Labor Agreement

Dear Ms. Alley:

Under the authority of the California Public Records Act, I am requesting the following records to determine the following:

The administrative/executive branch deliberative process within the California High-Speed Rail Authority that led to the execution of the “Community Benefits Agreement” (aka Project Labor Agreement) as signed by Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, on August 7, 2013 and by Jeff Morales, Chief Executive Officer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, on August 13, 2013. Here’s a link to that Project Labor Agreement: Project Labor Agreement with Unions for California High-Speed Rail.

“Public records” include any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used or retained by the California High-Speed Rail Authority regardless of physical form or characteristics. “Writing” means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photocopying, photographing, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing, any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds or symbols or any combination thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.

“Public records” shall include writing from private email addresses used by the Board and staff of the California High-Speed Rail Authority for public business. For example, if a staff member sends electronic mail through a Google mail account to schedule a meeting with Robbie Hunter, that email is a public record.

Please provide the following public records – in electronic form if possible – from the California High-Speed Rail Authority:

  • All records dated after January 1, 2012 concerning consideration, rejection, and approval from any federal or state agency for a Community Benefits Agreement/Project Labor Agreement and/or “Targeted Hiring Agreement” based on a similar agreement adopted at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
  • All records dated after January 1, 2012 concerning evaluation or deliberation of the conditions, benefits, challenges, and negative impact of a Community Benefits Agreement/Project Labor Agreement.
  • All records dated after January 1, 2012 referencing the Community Benefits Agreement/Project Labor Agreement in communications from, to, or citing the following individuals:

a) Robbie Hunter (Current President, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California)

b) Bob Balgenorth (Past President, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and past board member, California High-Speed Rail Authority)

c) Ashley Swearingen (Mayor of Fresno)

d) Tom Richards (Chair of Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board and current board member, California High-Speed Rail Authority.)

e) Lee Ann Eager (Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County)

f) Chuck Riojas (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – IBEW)

g) Blake Konczal (Executive Director, Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board, and Fresno Works Consortium)

h) Ken Price (counsel for Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board)

i) Michael Bernick (Applied Development Economics)

j) Robert Padilla (Small Business Advocate, California High-Speed Rail Authority)

  • All records dated after November 1, 2012 referencing the Community Benefits Agreement/Project Labor Agreement in communications from, to, or citing the following individuals:

a) Eric Christen (Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction)

b) Nicole Goehring (Associated Builders and Contractors, Northern California Chapter)

c) Kevin Dayton, Labor Issues Solutions, LLC

  • Any other records related to the Community Benefits Agreement/Project Labor Agreement.

Note: the California High-Speed Rail Authority does not need to provide board meeting agendas, minutes, board meeting transcripts, or staff reports for meetings already provided to the public as posted on the California High-Speed Rail Authority web site in association with board meetings. It does not need to provide the Addendum 8 version of the Project Labor Agreement (Addendum 8 Project Labor Agreement for Initial Construction Segment) or the revised Project Labor Agreement linked above (Project Labor Agreement with Unions for California High-Speed Rail).

Upon receiving this request for a copy of records, please, within 10 days, determine whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the California High-Speed Rail Authority and promptly notify me of the determination and the reasons therefor.

In unusual circumstances, the time limit may be extended by written notice, setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched. No notice shall specify a date that would result in an extension for more than 14 days, and the notice shall provide the estimated date and time when the records will be made available.

###

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

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

Not Accountable for Project Labor Agreement – Until Now: Mailers Inform Judges About Union Deal of Administrative Office of the Courts

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) remains determined to see that the California Administrative Office of the Courts and the Judicial Council of California are accountable to the judicial branch and to the public for a behind-the-scenes deal to require construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of working on the $600 million New San Diego County Central Courthouse. For more information on how this scheme was discovered, see Union Quest for Project Labor Agreements from Judicial Council of California and Administrative Office of the Courts Succeeds with San Diego County Central Courthouse.

The Judicial Council of California has received public comments from three groups opposing the Project Labor Agreement in advance of its June 28, 2013 meeting in San Francisco.

On June 20, 2013, San Diego construction companies and their employees held a press conference and rally opposing the decision of California’s judicial branch to give unions monopoly control of this major state project in a city and a county where voters banned government-mandated Project Labor Agreements on city and county projects. See the press release announcing this gathering at Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction to Hold Press Conference – June 20, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. – Condemning San Diego Courthouse Project Labor Agreement.

Judges, prominent San Diego business and government leaders, and ordinary taxpayers have now received a mailer about the Project Labor Agreement. A press release from the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) announcing the mailer is below.

June 24, 2013 Mailer of Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction on California Administrative Office of the Courts on Project Labor Agreement for New San Diego County Central Courthouse - Front

Front of June 24, 2013 mailer of Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction: California Administrative Office of the Courts negotiates a Project Labor Agreement with unions for the $600 million New San Diego County Central Courthouse.

 

June 24, 2013 Mailer of Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction on California Administrative Office of the Courts on Project Labor Agreement for New San Diego County Central Courthouse - Back

Back of June 24, 2013 mailer of Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction: California Administrative Office of the Courts negotiates a Project Labor Agreement with unions for the $600 million New San Diego County Central Courthouse.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 24, 2013

Contact: Eric Christen, (858) 431-6337

Mailers Hit the Judges: Courthouse Construction in California Now Favors Unions

Costs Will Rise After Project Labor Agreement Repels Potential Bidders

Increasing Risk to Public Safety

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) has sent mailers to California taxpayers and key stakeholder groups announcing a secret sweetheart deal between the California Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. View the mailer here.

Allegedly requested by the state’s central lobbying group for construction unions, this deal requires all construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions as a condition of working on the $600 million new San Diego Central Courthouse. It gives unions monopoly control over the construction workforce for this project.

The Judicial Council of California, comprising the leadership of the state’s judicial system, has never deliberated on union agreements for courthouse construction contracts. This deal happened behind the scenes, out of sight of the public.

“The Administrative Office of the Courts has done very little to inform judges – or the public – in California that it’s now wheeling and dealing with construction union lobbyists,” said Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction. “We’re letting the judges – and the public – know that the court system is scheming behind the scenes to cut competition and increase costs of construction on this courthouse project.”

Christen points out that the union-exclusive Project Labor Agreement is happening in a city whose citizens are quite educated on the issue of PLAs and who oppose them.

“Staff did so little homework before rushing headlong into this scheme that they failed to even consider the fact they are pushing this PLA in a city that one year ago voted 58% to 42% to ban PLAs.” added Christen. “People here understand what PLAs represent: Higher costs and discrimination.”

The decision of the Administrative Office of the Courts to adopt a costly union contracting requirement on the new San Diego Central Courthouse is particularly surprising, because this proposed project has been substantially reduced in size and function to reduce the cost.

“Even the internal staff reports acknowledge the danger of increased costs resulting from this union deal,” said Christen. “Something compelled the Administrative Office of the Courts to start guaranteeing work to unions. This does not bode well for the future fiscal responsibility of the state’s judicial system.”

The mailers that CFEC sent out are part of a broader effort to educate the AOC’s Judicial and Facilities Working Group Committees on what is being done in their name, and that it will not pass quietly.

For more information contact Eric Christen at (858) 431-6337 or visit CFEC’s website at www.opencompca.com.

###

Construction Manager at-Risk Negotiating with Unions for a Project Labor Agreement on $600 Million San Diego County Central Courthouse

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction just issued a press release (on May 30, 2013) entitled “Unions and State Conspire to Exclude Local Workers from Massive Public Courthouse Project in San Diego.” Text is below.

May 31 is the deadline for prospective bidders to submit their pre-qualification questionnaires to Rudolph and Sletten. See Subcontractors to Bid on Work for New Downtown Central CourthouseSan Diego Daily Transcript – May 16, 2013


May 30, 2013
Contact: Eric Christen, (858) 431-6337 

Unions and State Conspire to Exclude Local Workers from Massive Public Courthouse Project in San Diego

Attempt to Place Union-Only Project Labor Agreement on $600+Million State Courthouse in City that Banned PLAs Less than a Year Ago

San Diego – The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) has learned that local unions and the Administrative Office of the Courts for the State of California (AOC) have been “negotiating” a union-only Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for the new $600+ million Superior Courthouse to be located in downtown San Diego. The AOC has hired the general contracting firm Rudolph & Sletten to build the courthouse. Rudolph & Sletten is therefore “negotiating” the PLA with local trade unions. These “negotiations” take place less than one year after voters in the City of San Diego overwhelming voted to ban PLAs 58%-42% with the passage of Proposition A in June of 2012.

“This is a remarkably tone-deaf and outrageous decision the sole intent of which is to exclude 90% of the local construction workforce who happen to be union-free,” said Eric Christen, Executive Director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction. “The citizens of San Diego have expressed, twice now, their desire to keep San Diego discrimination-free and now we have the AOC forcing this ‘agreement’ on us?”

CFEC has submitted a Public Records Act request to the AOC that seeks to answer, among other things, the following:

  • Where and who did the idea of a PLA come from?
  • What are the justifications for a PLA?
  • Who is actually “negotiating” the PLA?
  • Did unions who run the legislature threaten to hold up funding on the project unless a PLA was placed on it?

The project is one of the AOC’s most expensive and at more than 700,000 sq. feet and 70 courtrooms, one of the largest. Ironies abound for such a project to be considered for a PLA.

On top of San Diego having banned PLAs there is the State publicly stating its desire to have “significant local, minority, women, and veteran owned businesses participate.” Yet with 90% of the local construction workforce union-free, that goal will be impossible to reach with a PLA.

Also, PLA proponents argue that PLAs are needed on “large and complex projects” yet two of the largest projects San Diego has ever undertaken (The San Diego International Airport expansion and the new downtown Federal Courthouse) were both built successfully without a PLA. The State and AOC have been facing years of funding cuts for its courthouse projects due to the economy and indeed this project has been reduced in both size and scope. Yet a PLA will add at least 20% to the cost of the project by cutting out local bidders who would otherwise add competitive pressure to the overall bid package. Finally Rudolph & Sletten is asking for companies interested in bidding this job to fill out a “Request for Qualification” (RFQ) that has no mention of a PLA. Thus, companies are being led to believe that this project will be open to all of them when in fact in may not be.

“This is a project that is going to be paid for with taxpayer dollars that come from union and non-union taxpayers.” added Christen “Yet the State of California through the AOC has just told the majority of those workers and apprentices that while their tax dollars are appreciated their ability to work is not. This is not going to go easily or well for the State, the AOC, or Rudolph and Sletten if a PLA is in fact required on this project. As we have shown time and time again, we will use any and all means to keep this project open for every worker and contractor. This decision, and we will find out exactly who made it, is offensive.”

Contractors who are interested in bidding this work have until tomorrow, May 31, to send in their pre-qualification packages. Rudolph and Sletten is scheduled to begin subcontractor bidding in July 2013. The bond sale for construction is expected in fall 2013, and construction is scheduled to begin before the end of 2013. Completion is scheduled for 2016.

###

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?”

New Website www.CaliforniaHighSpeedRailScam.com Brings Experienced, Pugnacious, Relentless Opposition to the Effort to Terminate California High-Speed Rail

Here is a press release from the California-based Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction about a new web site:

www.CaliforniaHighSpeedRailScam.com

 


BREAKING NEWS! CFEC UNVEILS NEW WEBSITE EXPOSING HIGH SPEED RAIL SCAM!

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Banner 2013

PRESS RELEASE
January 31, 2013
Contact: Eric Christen
(858) 431-6337

 

New Website www.CaliforniaHighSpeedRailScam.com Brings Experienced, Pugnacious, Relentless Opposition to the Effort to Terminate California High-Speed Rail 

Union-Only Project Labor Agreement Provokes Professional Response to Train Debacle  

CA – The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction today announces the launch of its comprehensively-researched opposition website www.CaliforniaHighSpeedRailScam.com, with the tag line “The Debacle to End All Debacles.” This website helps build the case to terminate what would be the most expensive construction project in human history.

“There are several grassroots organizations in California valiantly challenging the High-Speed Rail Authority’s taxpayer-funded public relations machine from various angles,” said Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC). “We are now bringing their work together in one place, while adding our own expert perspective on construction and labor relations.”

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction has 14 years of high-profile experience pugnaciously and relentlessly fighting construction schemes in California that entangle wasteful government projects with labor union entitlements known as Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Among its victories is the derailment of a proposed Project Labor Agreement backed by former Governor Gray Davis for the construction of the new University of California campus in Merced.

The Request for Proposals for the Madera to Fresno first segment of the Initial Operating Section includes two provisions (Sections 7.11.3 and 10.1)  giving construction trade unions a monopoly on the project by requiring all construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement.

A  Project Labor Agreement (disguised under the deceptive name “Community Benefits Agreement”) negotiated with officials of the State Building and Construction Trades Council was also included in the bid specifications, to ensure that the five prequalified design-build consortiums fully understood the directive to give unions a monopoly on construction.

The website so far includes the following sections:

1. Your One-Stop Source for Information about the California High-Speed Rail Debacle – Yes, Your Doubts Are Justified

2. Top-40 Donors to Campaign to Convince California Voters to Borrow $10 Billion to Start Building High-Speed Rail

3. How Much Will This California High-Speed Rail Cost? Making Up Numbers

4. Losing Bidders for High-Speed Rail Design-Build Contract Will Get Up to $2 Million from Taxpayers For Their Trouble

5. Construction Trade Unions Get Costly Monopoly on High-Speed Rail Construction with Project Labor Agreement (“Community Benefits Agreement”)

6. Timeline of the California High-Speed Rail: This Train Has Hurtled Down the Track for 20 Years

7. The #11 Campaign Contributor to Proposition 1A in 2008: A Mysterious Organization Called “Californians For A Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail”

8. Fighting Back Against the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s Taxpayer-Funded Public Relations Machine

9. Why Lowest Responsible Bidders Don’t Necessarily Win Rail Construction Contracts: Explaining Design-Build Procurement and Best Value Criteria In California Law

10. Art Inspired by the High-Speed Rail (parody art sponsored by Activist Artists 4 California)

“I’m meeting constantly with Californians who express utter disbelief that this California High-Speed Rail debacle is still chugging along toward its inevitably catastrophic conclusion,” said Christen. “This project stinks of failure, waste, and lack of accountability. The typical Californian is intrigued by the idea of high-speed rail but alarmed and disgusted by its disorganized implementation.”

###

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.

###

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.

 ###