Tag Archive for Governor Jerry Brown

Little-Known Facts About the Contract for the First Construction Segment of California High-Speed Rail

As reported by John Hrabe in the January 27, 2014 www.CalNewsroom.com article High-Speed Rail Critics Question Timing Of Rail Firm’s Contribution To Brown Campaign, Governor Jerry Brown’s 2014 re-election campaign committee received the maximum possible contribution of $27,200 on January 21, 2014 from the construction company Tutor Perini.

Tutor Perini is part of the Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons joint venture that won the design-build contract for the first construction segment of California High-Speed Rail, a 29-mile stretch from Madera to Fresno. (For detailed information on design-build procurement in California, see Why Lowest Responsible Bidders Don’t Necessarily Win Rail Construction Contracts: Explaining Design-Build Procurement and Best Value Criteria in California Law.)

Three days after the $27,200 contribution was made – and on the day it was recorded by the California Secretary of State – California Attorney General Kamala Harris submitted an extraordinary request to the California Supreme Court on behalf of Gov. Brown, the California High-Speed Rail Authority, and other interested parties. They want the court to grant relief to allow the project to continue, even though a Sacramento County Superior Court judge decided in 2013 that the California High-Speed Rail Authority failed to comply with the law established by Proposition 1A in 2008 and therefore could not sell any of the $9.95 billion in bonds authorized by voters under that statewide ballot measure.

Tutor Perini Contribution to Brown for Governor 2014 Campaign Committee

Tutor Perini Contribution to Brown for Governor 2014 Campaign Committee

As this brazen campaign contribution begins to gain public attention, here is some little-known information about the contract and cost for the first construction segment.

1. Tutor Perini Contract Amount Is Higher Than People Think

An April 12, 2013 press release showed California High-Speed Rail Authority officials were pleased when the low bid for the design-build contract came in under $1 billion.

The Authority had estimated the cost for the design-build contract to be between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion. The Authority determined that Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons, a California-based Joint Venture, who bid $985,142,530, was the “apparent best value.”

But the amount announced to the public is deceptive.

At its June 6, 2013 meeting, the California High-Speed Rail Authority awarded a design-build contract to Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons, a Joint Venture, for their fixed bid price of $969,988,000 and hazardous material unit bid price of $15,154,530 for a total bid price of $985,152,530 on “Construction Package 1” (CP-1). This is the 29-mile segment between Madera and Fresno.

There was an additional $53 million included for contingencies, for a total of $1,022,988,000. See this information here:

Approval to Award Contract for Design/Build Services for Construction Package 1 – June 6, 2013

EXECUTION VERSION – Agreement No.: HSR13-06 – Book 2, Part A, Subpart 1 – Signature Document (see Attachment B – Prices)

Since then, a $160 million contingency fund was created for the project, including $20 million for compliance with Buy American provisions for utility relocation.

Approval of Contingency Fund for Construction Package 1 – September 10, 2013

Resolution #HSRA 13-21 – Approval of Contingency Fund for Construction Package 1 – September 10, 2013

This means that the Madera to Fresno construction segment is authorized to cost taxpayers as much as $1,182,988,000.

This amount does not include all of the consulting work beforehand. Pre-construction costs from Merced to Bakersfield are $160 million through September 30, 2013 and authorized for a total of $241 million. (A more specific amount for the Madera to Fresno first construction segment is not available.)

California High-Speed Rail Authority Project Update Report to the California State Legislature – November 15, 2013

Yes, this 29-mile segment is a billion-dollar segment, and that does not include interest to be paid on borrowed money obtained through bond sales.

2. Potential Windfall for Tutor Perini Because of California High-Speed Rail Authority’s “Strange Lack of Competency in Procurement Strategy”

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has completed the environmental review of the Merced to Fresno segment. It is in the process of environmental review for the Fresno to Bakersfield segment.

Construction Package 1 has 25 miles in the approved Merced to Fresno segment and 4 miles in the not-approved Fresno to Bakersfield segment. If the California High-Speed Rail Authority can’t conclude environmental review of the Fresno to Bakersfield segment by July 12, 2014, the Authority has to renegotiate the contract for Construction Package 1 with Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons.

This is why the California High-Speed Rail Authority quietly asked the federal Surface Transportation Board for an environmental exemption, which the board has refused to grant while it extends the time period for comment until February 14, 2014. The September 26, 2013 Petition for Exemption from the California High-Speed Rail Authority to the Surface Transportation Board states the following:

The Authority has entered into a design-build contract to construct a 29-mile segment of the HST System, comprised or approximately 5 miles of track and facilities within the boundaries of the Fresno to Bakersfield HST Section in the vicinity of Fresno and approximately 24 miles of track and facilities covered by the exemption granted in the Merced to Fresno Decision. The Authority’s design-build contract requires the Authority to give the contractor separate notices to proceed with construction of the 5-mile and 24-mile segments. The notice to proceed for the 5 miles of track and facilities must be issued by July 12, 2014. If the Authority cannot issue the notice on the 5-mile segment by July 12th, it will be removed from the contract and the Authority will need to re-negotiate the price for the construction of the 24-mile segment and the price and timetable for the 5-mile segment. Since the construction contract does not contain a separate price for the 5-mile and 24-mile segments, this could result in a substantial aggregate increase in the cost of construction of the two segments. There is a possibility that the Board will have a vacancy as of January 1, 2014. Given the Authority’s July 12th notice to proceed deadline, the possibility of a Board vacancy is of concern to the Authority. However, the Board has authority to grant conditional approval of construction exemptions. Although the Board does not do so absent compelling circumstances, there would be compelling circumstances in this case because conditional approval would avoid circumstances which could require the Authority to pay a higher price for the construction of the initial segment of the HST System. Accordingly, if a Board vacancy becomes imminent, the Authority respectfully requests that the Board conditionally grunt this Petition subject to the completion of the environmental review process, and issue a decision effective by December 31, 2013.

Petition for Exemption from the California High-Speed Rail Authority to the Surface Transportation Board – September 26, 2013, and subsequent correspondence

Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design (CARRD) is harshly critical of what it calls “serious mistakes made by the Authority and its consultants” and “the strange lack of competency in procurement strategy.”

July 12, 2014: What Is the Big Deal?Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design (CARRD) – December 4, 2013

Justified or not, Tutor Perini and its predecessor firms have a reputation for looking at big urban infrastructure projects and figuring out weaknesses and mistakes that can be exploited later for financial advantage. An April 19, 2013 article in the Los Angeles Times about the low bid for California High-Speed Rail (Bullet Train Bid Rules Altered) hints at that reputation:

Critics have complained that the firm tends to bid low to win contracts and then seeks change orders and contract amendments that increase costs. The firm has handled many major construction projects successfully. But it also has been embroiled in controversies involving accusations of overbilling, fraud and shoddy workmanship related to the Los Angeles subway, San Francisco International Airport and public works projects in New York. Those matters have cost the builder tens of millions of dollars in legal judgments, settlements and penalties.

This reputation for Tutor Perini is also addressed in the UT San Diego April 15, 2013 article Bullet Train Bidder Had Overruns and its April 16, 2013 article ‘Change-Order Artist’ Fights Back.

Anyone who has closely followed the business of the California High-Speed Rail Authority recognizes how it could be a sitting duck. Taxpayers will end up paying the bill.

Unions Virtually Alone in Love with California High-Speed Rail – My Article in www.UnionWatch.org

Today (January 22, 2014) California Governor Jerry Brown made his annual State of the State speech. Last year, he concluded his prepared speech with remarks about California High-Speed Rail:

Last year, you authorized another big project: High Speed Rail. Yes, it is bold but so is everything else about California.

Electrified trains are part of the future. China already has 5000 miles of high speed rail and intends to double that. Spain has 1600 miles and is building more. More than a dozen other countries have their own successful high speed rail systems. Even Morocco is building one.

The first phase will get us from Madera to Bakersfield. Then we will take it through the Tehachapi Mountains to Palmdale, constructing 30 miles of tunnels and bridges. The first rail line through those mountains was built in 1874 and its top speed over the crest is still 24 miles an hour. Then we will build another 33 miles of tunnels and bridges before we get the train to its destination at Union Station in the heart of Los Angeles.

It has taken great perseverance to get us this far. I signed the original high speed rail Authority in 1982 – over 30 years ago. In 2013, we will finally break ground and start construction.

He even added some extemporaneous remarks, comparing the quest for California High-Speed Rail to “The Little Engine That Could.”

In 2014, his prepared speech (and his actual remarks) barely mentioned it. For good reason: the project is a boondoggle. (See www.CaliforniaHighSpeedRailScam.com.)

My January 21, 2014 www.UnionWatch.org article “Unions Virtually Alone in Love with California High-Speed Rail” list the dwindling number of supporters:

…who would still be eager to proceed with this project besides Governor Jerry Brown, the corporations seeking contracts, and a scattering of citizens committed to various leftist causes related to urban planning and environmentalism? Unions.

In a backroom deal, without any public deliberation or vote, the board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority negotiated and executed a Project Labor Agreement (called a “Community Benefit Agreement”) with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. This agreement gives unions a monopoly on construction trade work and certain construction-related professional services…

When the groundbreaking ceremony occurs for California High-Speed Rail, perhaps in an abandoned Madera County cornfield seized through eminent domain by the Authority, expect thousands of construction union workers to be bused in to block and neutralize any protesters. Governor Brown cannot suffer any more embarrassment over this boondoggle and debacle.

For reasons listed in “Unions Virtually Alone in Love with California High-Speed Rail,” there may never be a groundbreaking.

Sources for Claims That One-Party Control and Government Taking More Money Triggered a California Comeback

Prominent “Progressives” identify a simple way for governments to ease economic and social problems: take more money from people as tax revenue and spend it on programs and projects. And in 2013 they can cite an example that seems to conform with their ideas.

Yes, it’s California.

Below is a fairly comprehensive list of sources for this claim. Notice that many of these sources are based on the East Coast.

Reporters and columnists for the New York Times seem to be particularly knowledgeable about the political and economic circumstances of California. They have even personified the claim through Governor Jerry Brown, as if one heroic, enlightened man alone engineered a “comeback” for the state. (Governor Brown doesn’t do much to dispel the myth.)

I’m guessing that the interest of the New York Times in California’s economy and budget is based primarily on needing to tout an example that the federal government should emulate. The nation’s intellectual elite continues to be frustrated that the “New New Deal” that Progressives were envisioning for America after the November 2008 election never came to fruition. The “Tea Party” has exploited outdated structural checks and balances of the republican model of government and permitted the thinking of the Reagan Era to linger, hindering Progress.

California Comeback:
One-Party Control and Higher Taxes as a Model for Success
  1. California Beaming – commentary by Tim Egan – New York Times – March 28, 2013
  2. Lessons From a Comeback – column by Paul Krugman – New York Times – March 31, 2013
  3. California Faces a New Quandary, Too Much MoneyNew York Times – May 25, 2013
  4. California’s New ‘Problem’: Jerry Brown on the Sudden Surplus, and the FilibusterThe Atlantic – May 26, 2013
  5. The California Comeback: How Progressives Stopped California’s Decline – video of panel discussion at 2013 Netroots Nation – June 22, 2013
  6. California Shows the Country How to Overcome GOP Dead-EndersNew Republic – July 1, 2013
  7. California Resurgent Under Brown, But Spending a Worry – Associated Press – July 5, 2013
  8. California Economy is on the Comeback Trail. Can America Follow?Christian Science Monitor – July 23, 2013
  9. Brown Cheered in Second Act, at Least So FarNew York Times – August 16, 2013
  10. Jerry Brown’s Tough-Love California Miracle: The 75-year-old governor rescued the Golden State from financial ruin – and is reshaping a national progressive agenda – Rolling Stone – August 29, 2013
  11. New Rule: Conservatives Who Love to Brag About American Exceptionalism Must Come Here to California – commentary by Bill Maher – Huffington Post – September 27 2013
  12. Jerry Brown Calls Washington Gridlock Dangerous, ‘Really Sick’Sacramento Bee – October 2, 2013
  13. Sacramento Not as Dysfunctional as Washington, D.C. – column by Tim Rutten – Los Angeles Daily News – October 11, 2013
  14. California Sees Gridlock Ease in GoverningNew York Times – October 18, 2013
  15. Gov. Jerry Brown’s Advice for WashingtonLos Angeles Times – October 24, 2013
  16. California, Jerry Brown Enjoying Rave Reviews, but Comparisons Are TrickySacramento Bee – October 25, 2013
  17. While Congress Stalls, the Golden State Moves Forward – commentary by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D) – Santa Barbara Independent – November 5, 2013
  18. California Governor Brown: A Great Power Has To Find Some Unity – NPR – November 6, 2013
  19. California, Here We Come? – column by Paul Krugman – New York Times – November 24, 2013 (praise of Covered California)

After November 23, 2013

Jerry Brown’s Revenge – commentary by Tim Egan – New York Times – March 6, 2014

Palmy Days for Jerry – commentary by Maureen Dowd – New York Times – March 22, 2014

Jerry Brown’s 4th Act – Politico – October 28, 2014

 

California Charter Cities and State Prevailing Wage Mandates in 2013 – A Compilation of More than 150 News Articles

Attorneys for charter cities and California citizens: you are welcome and encouraged to use this compilation as a resource and exhibit when you sue the State of California to overturn Senate Bill 7.


Capitol Weekly described Senate Bill 7, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 13, 2013, as “arguably the most important bill to emerge this year from the Legislature.” The new law prohibits the State of California from disbursing funds for construction to any of the 121 cities with charters that exercise their “home-rule” right under Article XI of the California Constitution to establish their own government-mandated wage policies for purely municipal construction contracts and for private projects receiving government financial assistance only from the city.

To preserve their ability to get state funding, cities with charters must stop deviating in their construction contracts from state prevailing wage laws defined in the California Labor Code. Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters described SB 7 as “a significant departure from Brown’s oft-voiced support of ‘subsidiarity,‘ the principle that locally elected officials should have maximum discretion to make decisions for their constituents.” The League of California Cities had asked Governor Brown to veto the bill, noting that “using political leverage to punish those exercising rights provided by the Constitution is unjust.”

SB 7 was a significant attack on constitutional rights, local control, and fiscal responsibility. The new acting mayor of the City of El Cajon, whose citizens approved a charter in June 2012, called the bill “a classic overreach of the state government, to the cost of the rights of sovereign cities.”

Surely SB 7 confirmed the assertion of former Murrieta City Councilmember Doug McAllister, in his February 2013 argument for city charters as the best way to improve the lives of citizens, that “the Left believes the power to reach that goal radiates from top to bottom, while the Right reverses that flow.” Construction union leaders and lobbyists at the state and local levels of California government have been intent on derailing the movement for cities to use charters in order to free themselves from the costly mandates imposed by the state legislature and the governor.

The charter city movement is based on the eroding constitutional principle of federalism – a check and balance against the excesses of centralized government. In October 2012, a professor of public administration at Chapman University (in Orange County) described the City of Costa Mesa as the ideological “ground zero for virtually everything taking place in the country” and its proposed (and ultimately defeated) charter as “a political manifesto of how government should be organized in the 21st century.” Some of the recent intellectual backing for California’s charter city movement has come from the limited-government perspective of www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com and the report (soon to be published in its 4th edition) entitled Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions?

Below are more than 150 news articles and opinion pieces from 2013 revealing the nature of the battle over local control and state-mandated prevailing wage. The year starts with a city adopting its own prevailing wage policy, city councils in several general law cities deliberating over charter language to propose to voters in 2014, and three powerful anecdotes showing the practical implications of state prevailing wage mandates: a planned private hotel stopped after the state determined it was a “public work” subject to prevailing wage, a bill introduced to end outrageously high state-mandated wage rates for janitorial work, and a state enforcement action revealing that prevailing wage increased the cost of a private hotel by more than $8 million.

Then the unions strike back, with the 5-4 votes of the San Diego City Council during the summer to enact a high-profile ordinance backed by disgraced Mayor Bob Filner to impose costly state-mandated prevailing wage on city projects. The ordinance ended 25 years of city control over its prevailing wage policies for city contracts. At the same time, union-backed Senate Bill 7 advanced through the California State Legislature despite significant opposition. Governor Brown signed SB 7 on October 13, even as the charter commission for the City of Costa Mesa was developing another charter and the Mountain View City Council imposed state prevailing wage mandates on private affordable housing developments receiving city financial assistance. Union lobbyists are now moving aggressively to suppress the uprising.

News and Opinion Articles on California Charter Cities, State-Mandated Prevailing Wage, and Senate Bill 7 in 2013

1

Assemblyman Curt Hagman to Introduce Bill on Prevailing Wages for Final Cleanup WorkersSan Bernardino Sun – January 2, 2013

2

California Bill Would Create a New Construction Trade Classification for Final Cleanup and Janitorial Work – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – January 5, 2013

3

Prevailing Wage Scams Steal from Taxpayers – www.CalWatchdog.com – January 11, 2013

4

Newport Beach to Discuss Dock Fees (and exemption of city contracts from prevailing wage requirements) – Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – January 19, 2013

5

Council Closes Book on Dock Fee Increases (In other business…)Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – January 23, 2013

6

Newport Triggers Dock-Fee Increases, Cost-Saving Labor ContractsOrange County Register – January 23, 2013

7

City Eschews Prevailing Wages – Newport Beach/Corona Del Mar Patch – January 24, 2013.

8

Newport Beach Is Latest California Charter City to Establish Its Own Prevailing Wage Policy: 7-0 Unanimous Vote for Fiscal Responsibility and Common Sense – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – January 24, 2013

9

Study Under Way to Find Out if Arroyo Grande Should Try to Become a Charter CitySan Luis Obispo Tribune – January 27, 2013

10

Arroyo Grande Considering City Charterwww.CalCoastNews.com – January 28, 2013

11

Unions Win Prevailing-Wage Case vs. Turtle BayRedding Record-Searchlight – January 29, 2013

12

Fate of Hotel at Turtle Bay in Limbo – Ruling: Park Must Pay Workers Prevailing Wage to build Sheraton HotelRedding Record-Searchlight – January 30, 2013

13

One More Costly Delay on Road to Turtle Bay Hotel – editorial – Redding Record-Searchlight – January 30, 2013

14

Redding Needs a Charter to End Nonsense Definition of Private Hotel as a “Public Works” Project – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – January 31, 2013

15

Got It Backward – letter to the editor by Michael Stanton – San Luis Obispo Tribune – January 31, 2013

16

Redding Needs a City Charter – letter to the editor by Kevin Dayton – Redding Record-Searchlight – February 4, 2013

17

Turtle Bay Nearing Compromise with Unions Over Hotel ConstructionRedding Record-Searchlight – February 7, 2013

18

Buellton Continues “Home Rule’ TalkSanta Ynez Valley News – February 7, 2013

19

Charting Best Path to Buellton’s Future – editorial – Santa Ynez Valley News – February 7, 2013

20

Prevailing Wage Supports Skilled Workers and Their Families – op-ed by Tom Curato – Redding Record-Searchlight – February 10, 2013

21

UA Local 228 Rep. Defends the Prevailing Wage for Redding, Californiawww.WePartyPatriots.com – February 13, 2013

22

Unions Rise to Defense of “Prevailing Wage” Rates Jeopardizing Hotel Project in Redding – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – February 15, 2013

23

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Charter City – op-ed by former Murrieta City Council member Doug McAllister – UT San Diego – February 19, 2013

24

State May Close Prevailing Wage Gap for Charter CitiesCentral Valley Business Journal – February 19, 2013

25

Escondido Mayor Touts Urban Renewal, Embracing DiversitySan Diego Union-Tribune – February 20, 2013

26

Bill Introduced in State Senate to Suppress Authority of California’s Charter Cities to Establish Their Own Policies on Government-Mandated Construction Wage Rates – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – February 20, 2013

27

Republican Lawmaker Touts Bill Pushed by Labor Bullieswww.CalWatchdog.com – February 21, 2013

28

County Offers $200,000 Tax Rebate to Attract $12 Million Business ExpansionBakersfield Californian – February 24, 2013 (States that “Kern County has not extended an economic incentive package to a prospective employer in about 10 years. Sometimes what stands in the way of making such offers, she said, is California’s requirement that building projects supported by public money pay construction workers prevailing wages.”)

29

Moreno Valley: Charter City Committee Could Be CreatedRiverside Press-Enterprise – February 25, 2013

30

Moreno Valley: City to Explore Becoming Charter CityRiverside Press-Enterprise – February 26, 2013

31

Turtle Bay Says It Can’t Afford Prevailing Wage Rate to Build HotelRedding Record-Searchlight – February 27, 2013

32

California’s Pro-Prevailing Wage Bill, SB7, Enjoying Broad Supportwww.WePartyPatriots.com – February 28, 2013

33

With Senate Bill 7, California Unions Advance Plot to Neuter City Charters – by Kevin Dayton – www.UnionWatch.org – February 28, 2013

34

Explain Why Moreno Valley Needs a Charter – editorial – Riverside Press-Enterprise – March 2, 2013

35

Turtle Bay Will Ask Judge for Relief on Hotel Prevailing-Wage RulingRedding Record-Searchlight – March 5, 2013

36

Turtle Bay to Challenge Prevailing Wage Findings – KNVN-24/KHSL-12 News – March 5, 2013

37

Unions Determined to Battle Turtle Bay’s Prevailing-Wage Court ChallengeRedding Record-Searchlight – March 6, 2013

38

Unions Fight Against Slave Labor – op-ed by Greg Beale – Redding Record-Searchlight – March 9, 2013

39

Buellton at ‘Crossroads’ for Decisions, Mayor SaysSanta Ynez Valley News – March 12, 2013

40

Senate Industrial Relations Committee Passes Controversial SB 7 – League of California Cities bulletin – March 13, 2013

41

Prevailing Wage’ Battle Shaping UpStockton Record – March 18, 2013

42

State Seeks to Hamper City Wage Policies – op-ed by Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern – UT San Diego – March 21, 2013

43

Oceanside Pol to Steinberg: Fix Your Own Mess and Leave Us Alonewww.CalWatchdog.com – March 22, 2013

44

Modesto Opposes Bill to Require ‘Prevailing Wage’ on ProjectsModesto Bee – March 24, 2013

45

City of Stockton should listen to their Development Oversight Committee’s Recommendation – ABC NorCal Blog (Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors) – March 28, 2013 (Recommendation was that “the City Council give direction to City staff and the Commission, as to whether or not they should continue working on the Prevailing Wage Exemption, so that the City Can Declare Itself Exempt from Prevailing Wage Laws on Local Projects.”)

46

Grover Beach to Again Look at Becoming a Charter CitySan Luis Obispo Tribune – March 29, 2013

47

Tulare County Board of Supervisors Opposes Wage BillVisalia Times-Delta – April 3, 2013

48

Senate Bill is Nothing More than a Power Grab – editorial – Porterville Recorder – April 5, 2013

49

Grass Valley: Prevailing Wage Bill is State ‘Overreach’The Union (Grass Valley) – April 16, 2013

50

Officials: Prevailing Wage Bill is an Overreach by CaliforniaTahoe Daily Tribune – April 23, 2013

51

Pair of Assembly Bills to Protect the Prevailing Wage Move Through California Committeewww.WePartyPatriots.com – April 26, 2013

52

SB 7 Will End Loophole to Avoid Paying Prevailing Wage – From the President, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California – May 2013

53

Labor, Charter Cities Clash Over Prevailing WageCapitol Weekly via www.CaliforniaCityNews.org – May 7, 2013

54

Mountain View Council Shifting Stance on Prevailing WageSan Jose Mercury-News – May 8, 2013

55

City to Review Mayor’s Proposal to Expand Prevailing Wage Requirements on Public Works Projects – KGTV-10 – May 15, 2013

56

Council Moves to Require Prevailing Wage on ContractsSan Diego Daily Transcript – May 16, 2013

57

City Council Should Reject ‘Prevailing’ Wage Proposal – op-ed by George Hawkins – San Diego Daily Transcript – May 28, 2013

58

Truckee, Grass Valley Watching California Prevailing Wage BillTahoe Daily Tribune – June 4, 2013

59

Prevailing Wages Will Lift San Diego Economy – op-ed by Tom Lemmon – San Diego Daily Transcript – June 5, 2013

60

Don’t Impose ‘Prevailing” Wage on More Cities – editorial – Riverside Press-Enterprise – June 13, 2013

61

Labor Commissioner Collects Over $8 Million in Wages for Public Works Job at Hilton Hotel in San Diego – California Department of Industrial Relations press release – June 17, 2013

62

SB 7 Represents Arrogance of Sacramento’s Local Policy Breakerswww.PublicCEO.com – June 18, 2013

63

SB 7 Subverts Charter Cities’ Autonomywww.CalWatchdog.com – June 19, 2013

64

Committee OKs Prevailing Wage Ordinance – KGTV-10 News – June 19, 2013

65

Hilton Bayfront Construction Workers Collect $8M in Wages – San Diego Daily Transcript – June 20, 2013

66

California Cities Ramp Up Fight Against Union Wage Bill – Sacramento Bee – June 21, 2013

67

Bill Would Push Prevailing WagesUT San Diego – June 21, 2013

68

Mayor Says SB 7 Could Strip Public Works Funding for GilroyGilroy Dispatch – June 25, 2013

69

Senate Bill 7 Limits Charter Cities’ Control – editorial – Modesto Bee – June 24, 2013

70

Charter Panel Digs into Public-Works ContractingNewport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – June 24, 2013

71

Steinberg’s Bill Would Infringe on Local Control – editorial – Sacramento Bee – June 25, 2013

72

The Assault on Charter Cities and Taxpayers – editorial – UT San Diego – June 25, 2013

73

San Diego Takes Next Step Toward Lowering the Threshold for Prevailing Wages to $25,000www.WePartyPatriots.com – June 25, 2013 (includes claim that “The prevailing wage issue is gaining momentum across the state of California.”)

74

Charter Cities: Senate Bill 7 Threatens Voting Rights – op-ed by Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities – San Jose Mercury-News – June 26, 2013

75

Steinberg’s SB 7 Would Tie Charter Cities’ Hands – editorial – Fresno Bee – June 26, 2013

76

Prevailing Wage Bill for Public Works AdvancesUT San Diego – June 27, 2013

77

Union Wages Shouldn’t Be Forced on Cities – editorial – Orange County Register – June 27, 2013

78

Dems Push for Prevailing Wages – KMJ 580 AM News (Fresno) – June 27, 2013

79

SB 7 Limits Charter City Wage Control – editorial – Merced Sun-Star – June 30, 2013

80

Prevailing Wage: Moving Forward in California, Backward in Other States – From the President, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California – July 2013

81

Prevailing Wages Hurt City – column by Joseph Perkins – UT San Diego – July 6, 2013

82

Prevailing Wage Bill for Charter Cities Inches Closer to GovernorThe Union (Grass Valley) – July 18, 2013

83

City Officials Say Prevailing Wage Bill Threatens ProjectsBakersfield Californian – July 18, 2013

84

Union Operatives Infiltrate Office of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to Push Costly and Burdensome Prevailing Wage Mandate for City Contracts – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – July 25, 2013

85

Prevailing Wage: Good for Local Economy, Local Workers – op-ed by Nathan Fletcher – San Diego Daily Transcript – July 26, 2013

86

Did Nathan Fletcher Lose His Mind on Prevailing Wage? – op-ed by Kevin Dayton – San Diego Daily Transcript – July 29, 2013

87

City Faces Higher Costs Under Wage PlanUT San Diego – July 29, 2013

88

Vote ‘No’ on Expanding ‘Prevailing Wage’ in San Diego – editorial – UT San Diego – July 29, 2013

89

Simple List of Official Documents Relevant to July 30 San Diego City Council Vote to Require State Prevailing Wage on City Contracts – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – July 29, 2013

90

After 33 Years, San Diego Submits to State Prevailing Wage Law – by Kevin Dayton in www.UnionWatch.org – July 30, 2013

91

City Council Approves Prevailing Wage Proposal – City News Service, posted on several news web sites, such as KPBS – July 30, 2013

92

U-T San Diego Ignores Growing Evidence Of Prevailing Wage Benefits – Media Matters for America – July 30, 2013

93

City Council Passes Prevailing-Wage OrdinanceSan Diego Daily Transcript – July 30, 2013

94

Council Approves Higher Wages for Projects: City already pays prevailing wages on big developmentUT San Diego – July 30, 2013

95

San Diego Passes Prevailing Wage Bill: Council votes 5-4 to expand policy to work contracts, following Filner’s leadUT San Diego – July 31, 2013

96

Smart Cities Prevail Applauds San Diego Decisionwww.SmartCitiesPrevail.org – July 31, 2013

97

Prevailing Wage Will Force Out Small Guy; Prevailing Wage is All About Payback to Unions; Big Labor Dominates City Hall – letters to the editor – UT San Diego – July 31, 2013

98

A Day to Remember, Not Fondly, at San Diego City Hall – editorial – UT San Diego – August 1, 2013

99

San Diego Political Celebrity Nathan Fletcher Now Supports Government-Mandated Construction Wage Rates – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – August 1, 2013

100

Statewide Poll Shows Broad Support for Prevailing Wage – Substantial Opposition to Going Charterwww.SmartCitiesPrevail.org – August 1, 2013

101

The Stories the Scandal Swallowed – Voice of San Diego – August 2, 2013 (San Diego City Council 5-4 vote to submit to state prevailing wage law for city construction contracts.)

102

Three Recent Polls Show Strong Support for Prevailing Wage Policieswww.SmartCitiesPrevail.org – August 8, 2013

103

Modesto Claims Prevailing Wage Bill Would Punish the CityModesto Bee – August 12, 2013

104

Central Valley City Officials Publicly Voice Opposition to SB 7 in Stockton – League of California Cities bulletin – August 13, 2013

105

Charter Panel Tackles Public WorksNewport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – August 15, 2013

106

Merced Mayor, Other Officials Gather in Modesto to Protest Prevailing Wage BillMerced Sun-Star – August 16, 2013

107

Unions Tempt Republicans with “Bipartisanship” Lure: Five Tips for Resistance – by Kevin Dayton – www.FlashReport.org – August 17, 2013

108

CEOs and Business Leaders for Prevailing Wage – op-ed by Mark Breslin, executive for a unionized construction company association – Modesto Bee – August 19, 2013

109

La Mirada Eyes to Become a Charter CityWhittier Daily News – August 19, 2013

110

Prevailing Wage: Consider Variables – letter to the editor – Modesto Bee – August 21, 2013

111

CEO Comes Out Swinging in Favor of SB7, Prevailing Wages, and the Race to the Topwww.WePartyPatriots.com – August 22, 2013

112

Senators Try To Compel Charter Cities to Pay Prevailing Wages – Capitol Public Radio – August 23, 2013

113

Just What is a ‘Prevailing Wage?’ – op-ed – Pomerado News – August 24, 2013

114

This Week in the War on Workers: Fending Off the ALEC of the Construction Industry in California – Daily Kos – August 24, 2013

115

Reject Push to Blackmail Cities on Wage RulesRiverside Press Enterprise – August 25, 2013

116

Why the Prevailing-Wage Ordinance is a Bad Idea – op-ed by Fred Schnaubelt – San Diego Daily Transcript – August 26, 2013

117

Something is Bothering California Union Leaders and Lobbyists – by Kevin Dayton in www.UnionWatch.org – August 27, 2013

118

Prevailing Wage Panders to Unions, Costs Taxpayers – op-ed by Michael Saltsman of Employment Policies Institute – Orange County Register – August 30, 2013

119

Prevailing Wage Standard Empowers Middle Class – op-ed by Dale Howard of www.SmartCitiesPrevail.orgOrange County Register – August 30, 2013

120

Cities Shouldn’t Ignore Prevailing Wage Economics – op-ed by Tracy Emblem, Democratic candidate for Congress – UT San Diego – August 30, 2013

121

Costa Mesa Mayor: Charter is Sure to PassOrange County Register – September 5, 2013

122

Charter Cities Challenge: State Dollars or Prevailing Wage?UT San Diego – September 7, 2013

123

SB 7: Cities Stand to Lose Home Rule over Municipal Affairswww.PublicCEO.com – September 9, 2013

124

Three Bad Bills that Gov. Jerry Brown Should Veto – editorial – Sacramento Bee – September 9, 2013

125

City Council Reaffirms Prevailing WageSan Diego Daily Transcript – September 10, 2013

126

Legislative Sampler: 2 to Sign, 2 to Veto – editorial – Riverside Press-Enterprise – September 18, 2013

127

‘Prevailing Wage’ Fact and Fiction – op-ed by George Hawkins – San Diego Daily Transcript – September 24, 2013

128

Costa Mesa Charter Committee Takes Up Prevailing WageOrange County Register – September 26, 2013

129

Prevailing Wage Bill Deserves a Veto – editorial – UT San Diego – October 4, 2013

130

Has Labor Leader Overreached? – columnist Dan Morain – Sacramento Bee – October 9, 2013

131

Stifling Unions – editorial – Victorville Daily Press – October 9, 2013

132

Costa Mesa Charter to Remove ‘Prevailing Wage’Orange County Register – October 10, 2013

133

Mountain View: City-Funded Affordable Housing Projects to Pay Prevailing WageSan Jose Mercury-News – October 10, 2013

134

Council OKs Union Wages for Affordable Housing: Policy Will Add about 10 Percent to Cost of New ProjectsMountain View Voice – October 10, 2013

135

City of Mountain View Expands Prevailing Wage Mandate to Private Affordable Housing Developments Getting City Funds – by Kevin Dayton – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – October 10, 2013

136

Governor Should Veto Wage bill – editorial – Modesto Bee – October 11, 2013

137

If Gov. Brown Doesn’t Like Intrusion, He Should Veto SB 7 – editorial – Sacramento Bee – October 12, 2013

138

Jerry Brown Signs Prevailing Wage Bill for Charter CitiesSacramento Bee – October 13, 2013

139

Governor Brown Signs Union-Backed Senate Bill 7 and Continues Erosion of Constitutional Checks and Balances – by Kevin Dayton in www.FlashReport.org – October 13, 2013

140

Brown Signs Prevailing Wage Bill – Capitol Weekly – October 14, 2013

141

Brown Signs Prevailing Wage Bill for CitiesCentral Valley Business Journal – October 14, 2013

142

Governor Brown Signs Prevailing Wage Bill – A Bubbling Cauldron (blog in Costa Mesa) – October 14, 2013

143

Governor Signs Prevailing Wage Bill for Charter CitiesSacramento Business Journal – October 14, 2013

144

Charter Cities to Lose Authority Over Public Works Projectswww.PublicCEO.com – October 14, 2013

145

Gov. Brown Signs SB 7 to Neuter Charter Citieswww.CalWatchdog.com – October 14, 2013

146

New Law Requires Charter Cities to Pay Prevailing Wages – East County Magazine – October 14, 2013

147

Prevailing Wage Law Could Raise CostsUT San Diego – October 14, 2013

148

Unions Smile, Cities Frown at Prevailing Wage LawBakersfield Californian – October 14, 2013

149

Modesto Fears Harm from New Prevailing Wage LawModesto Bee – October 14, 2013

150

California Construction Unions Get Two Big Wins – columnist Dan Walters – Sacramento Bee – October 15, 2013

151

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Autonomy is good – but only for state? – editorial – Santa Rosa Press-Democrat – October 15, 2013

152

Charter Could Cost City FundingNewport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – October 16, 2013

153

Governor Signs SB 7: Charter Cities Required to Pay Prevailing Wage – Porterville Recorder – October 16, 2013

154

Governor Does Disservice to All Charter Cities – editorial – Porterville Recorder – October 20, 2013

155

Prevailing Wage Now Irrelevant – A Bubbling Cauldron (blog in Costa Mesa) – October 22, 2013

156

Oppose a Charter with ‘Prevailing Wage’ Exemption – letters to the editor – Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – October 22, 2013

157

Groups Accuse Grover Beach of Violating State Open Meeting LawSan Luis Obispo Tribune – October 22, 2013 (One group is www.SmartCitiesPrevail.org)

158

Facts Wrong – letter to the editor by Robbie Hunter, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California – Porterville Recorder – October 24, 2013

159

Wage Law Costs Cities More than Money – op-ed by El Cajon Acting Mayor Bill Wells – UT San Diego – October 25, 2013

160

Unions “Using Political Leverage to Punish Those Exercising Rights” in California Constitution – by Kevin Dayton in www.UnionWatch.org – October 29, 2013

161

Brown Inconsistent on Local-Control Issues: Is ‘subsidiarity’ little more than a platitude?UT San Diego – October 30, 2013

 

Jack Up Those University of California Fees Some More! Looks Like the UC Contracting Guidelines Slipped in the California Budget Will Hinder “Maximizing Efficiency”

The California State Legislature’s Democrat majority has approved a budget (Assembly Bill 1464) and sent it to Governor Jerry Brown. Presumably it still includes the language (including the typographical error) added at the last minute providing funding to the University of California with the condition that it operate under extensive guidelines meant to suppress the contracting out of services to private companies. (Apparently this language could even apply to contracts with non-profit organizations and volunteers in certain circumstances.)

How will this budget section affect basic operations of the University of California, such as custodial and janitorial services, hospital staff at UC medical centers, library staff, clerical workers, food service and cafeteria workers, pest control services, and landscaping? A January 12, 2012 report (required by law) entitled 2011 Contracting Out for Services at Newly Developed Facilities from the University of California’s Office of the President to the California State Legislature states that “campuses and medical centers view contracting out for services as an important supplement to existing resources.” The report mentions concepts foreign to state legislative leaders such as “maximizing efficiency,” “new methods,” and “best practices.”

Democrat leaders whipped that budget proposal through so fast in the past few days that it was hard for legislators, the news media, and interest groups to digest the contents. I don’t see many signs that people are picking up on my report from yesterday (June 14, 2012) revealing the new language in the budget about UC contracting. My report was linked on www.FlashReport.com today at the top of the “Golden Pen” column, but I haven’t found any news reports or press releases on the web mentioning it.

As I reported yesterday (see my post “The delay…would frustration their very purpose” – Hasty Last-Minute Add-On to California Budget Clamps Down on University of California’s Contracting Out), the insertion even includes a typographical error – see lines 38-43 on page 580: “The services are of such an urgent, temporary, or occasional nature that the delay incumbent in their implementation under the UC’s regular or ordinary hiring process would frustration their very purpose.”

This language in the budget for the University of California already applies to K-12 school districts and community college districts in Education Code sections 45103.1 and 88003.1, which became law in 2002 through Senate Bill 1419. I couldn’t find any studies on the web that focused on the actual effects of Education Code sections 45103.1 and 88003.1, but I was able to find scattered documents showing that the laws indeed discourage educational districts from contracting out services, and unions do cite these laws to fend off contracting proposals.

Evidence to Suggest This Budget Provision Will Hinder the University of California’s Efforts to Control Costs and Maximize Efficiency for the Benefit of Students 

1. This May 26, 2010 letter (see page 13 of the PDF) from the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees, American Federation of Teachers Local 6192 states bluntly that Section 45103.1 “significantly restricts the ability of the Berkeley Unified School District to contract out for services normally and customarily performed by classified employees.” (And that is the perspective from supporters of the law.)

2. This June 29, 2011 report from the California School Information Services Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) to the Mono County and Inyo County Offices of Education explains on page 13 that “the most significant impediment to the formation of school transportation JPA will likely be Education Code 45103.1.” Here’s an excerpt:

Known as the California School Employees Association (CSEA) signature anti-contracting bill, this section is the codification of SB 1419 passed by the California Legislature and signed by Governor Gray Davis years ago. The bill does not specifically outlaw contracting, but places strict accountability on a district to prove that contracting is less expensive than using the previous classified employees. Although the formation of a JPA is not technically contracting for work, the CSEA perceives it that way, and has challenged the formation of JPAs using this regulation in some areas of the state. The threat of potential lawsuit has dissuaded some school districts from forming a JPA. The CSEA has closely monitored school transportation in some areas of the state, but not in other areas or services such as food service. The California Association of School Transportation Officials (CASTO) and the School Transportation Coalition are working with the CSEA towards an amendment of E.C. 45103.1 that allows school districts to cooperatively provide services for each other or use a JPA. Support for this amendment is moderate.

3. A July 16, 2010 opinion letter from Jerry Brown when he was Attorney General to Assemblyman Sandre Swanson points out how this law potentially restricts contracting out:

Or, to take another example, if a school district’s contract with a private nonprofit organization involved contracting for services in non-academic positions, such as clerical, maintenance, transportation, and cafeteria services, the contract might be inconsistent with or limited by Education Code section 45103.1, which prescribes the conditions under which a school district may enter into a new contract after January 1, 2003 for personal services ordinarily performed by classified employees of the school district.

4. Here’s “Inter-Office Correspondence” in the Los Angeles Unified School District dated August 20, 2008 from Omar Del Cueto, Executive Director of iDesign Schools, concerning MLA Partner Schools (a program previously called Mentor Los Angeles):

Does MLA reserve the right to subcontract any and all services specified in the MOU to any District, public or private subcontractor permitted by law? How about Food Services?

MLA and the schools are subject to subtracting limitations to the extent that they exist in collective bargaining agreements, Personnel Commission Rules, or the law. Particularly important is Education Code section 45103.1. Section 45103.1 places significant limitations on the ability to subcontract for services that are performed by classified employees. That section applies to food service employees.

5. In a December 8, 2003 decision, the Public Employment Relations Board noted that the Long Beach Community College District Police Officers Association “argues that Education Code section 88003.1 prohibits the District’s contracting out of police services.”

6. I recalled the heady early days of the Schwarzenegger Administration when I found a January 7, 2004 press release from the now-defunct “Coalition for Local Control of School Spending” praising new Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for calling for the repeal of Senate Bill 1419 in his first State of the State address:

My proposal gets more money into the classroom and thus increases per pupil funding. First, we must give local schools the power to meet the specific needs of their own communities. This will give schools the freedom to spend the money as they — not Sacramento — best see fit to serve the children. Second, school districts are forced to spend an average of 10 to 40 percent more than necessary on non-classroom services. We must give local schools the freedom to be more cost efficient. One way to do this is to repeal SB 1419, the law that prevents schools from contracting out services such as busing and maintenance. This will free up more money for textbooks and other vital classroom needs.

7. Governor Schwarzenegger’s ill-fated California Performance Review identified Education Code Sections Sections 45103.1 and 88003.1 as impediments to reducing non-instructional costs in schools. Here are some claims from the ultimately ignored recommendation:

SB 1419 can effectively prevent school districts from obtaining needed services at all. For instance, one Bakersfield school in the desert did not have functional drinking fountains for students during hot weather because the custodian was busy and the school could not hire a plumber, pursuant to current law. At Santa Ana Unified School District, new computers are still in boxes because, “even though the computer firm said it would install the computers as part of its service without extra charge, even a free service violates SB 1419.” Theoretically, exceptions are available in the law for “work of an urgent, temporary, or occasional nature.” However, because of the difficulties in surmounting the legal hurdles under the new law, school districts may not even contract for services in these cases. The main obstacle to successfully implementing competitive sourcing of necessary services is opposition from labor unions who represent the district employees. At Reed Elementary School District in Marin County, community groups offered to hire additional groundskeepers for field maintenance (the fields are also used by community groups), but this type of partnership is prohibited by SB 1419. Community members reported that, “…even the district groundskeeper supported the partnership” that would have resulted in an additional groundskeeper being hired.

8. When the legislature approved Senate Bill 1419 in 2002, it was opposed by the American Institute of Architects – California Council, the Association of California School Administrators, the California School Boards Association, the California School Bus Contractor’s Association, Cardinal Transportation Group, Inc., the Community College League of California, Durham School Services, First Student, Laidlaw Education Services, Los Angeles Unified School District, Orinda Union School District, and San Francisco Unified School District.

9. When Senator Bob Huff’s Senate Bill x8 61 to repeal SB 1419 was considered and rejected in 2010, the repeal was supported by the California Association of School Transportation Officials, the California School Transportation Association, the California Taxpayers’ Association, the Southwest Transportation Agency, and West County Transportation.

Yes, this section of the budget matters.

It Didn’t Take the First Time: Governor Brown Signs Union Bill #2 to Discourage Voters and City Councils from Banning Project Labor Agreements

Governor Jerry Brown apparently didn’t have any qualms about enacting a second bill to pressure California’s charter cities into abandoning their Fair and Open Competition policies that prohibit those cities from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) with unions. On April 26, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 829 into law – only a few days after the bill passed the California State Legislature and only two months after Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) completely changed the bill to financially punish charter cities that enact Fair and Open Competition policies.

It’s amazing how quickly the state government moves when the unions want something! Nothing was going to stop this bill, just like nothing stopped Senate Bill 922 last year to nullify Project Labor Agreement bans enacted by voters and elected representatives in counties and general law cities.

The bill adds Section 2503 to the Public Contract Code:

If a charter provision, initiative, or ordinance of a charter city prohibits, limits, or constrains in any way the governing board’s authority or discretion to adopt, require, or utilize a project labor agreement that includes all the taxpayer protection provisions of Section 2500 for some or all of the construction projects to be awarded by the city, then state funding or financial assistance shall not be used to support any construction projects awarded by the city. This section shall not be applicable until January 1, 2015, for charter cities in which a charter provision, initiative, or ordinance in effect prior to November 1, 2011, would disqualify a construction project from receiving state funding or financial assistance.

I will speculate (along with many other people) that Senate Bill 829 was created, whipped through the legislative process, and signed into law so that unions could use it as a campaign message in trying to convince voters in the City of San Diego to vote on June 5 against Proposition A, a ballot measure to prohibit the City of San Diego from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions.

News Media Coverage:

Labor-Friendly Contract Option Backed by Brown – San Diego Union-Tribune – April 27, 2012 (this was a front page story)

DeMaio Criticizes Fletcher’s Absence on Labor Vote – San Diego Union-Tribune – April 28, 2012

San Diego’s Proposition A Clouded By Signing Of State Bill – KPBS – April 26, 2012

Assemblyman David Valadao: We Need to Protect Local Control of Local Projects – Bakersfield Californian (op-ed) – April 28, 2012

And the unabashedly “progressive” Ocean Beach Rag blog (in San Diego) has produced its first commentary critical of Proposition A: First Cuppa Coffee – Monday, April 16, 2012: Don’t Cry for Him San Diego Edition.

See my earlier posts on Senate Bill 829:

Unions Use Power Over California Legislature to Suppress Local Government Contracting Authority and Push for Project Labor Agreements

Six Legislators Defend the Right of California Cities to Enact Policies Guaranteeing Fair and Open Competition for Construction Contracts

Unions Use Power Over California Legislature to Suppress Local Government Contracting Authority and Push for Project Labor Agreements

On April 12, the California State Assembly approved Senate Bill 829, a union-backed proposal to exert additional pressure on voters and local elected officials to abandon any policies or policy aspirations to prohibit their local governments from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) with construction trade unions.

Political party affiliation determined the 50-23 vote (with seven legislators not voting): Democrats supported it; Republicans opposed it.

Senate Bill 829 is the latest move of California unions in their quest to stop ambitious local grassroots movements to protect fair and open bidding competition on taxpayer-funded construction. Union leaders recognize there are still a few political officials and business leaders in California who haven’t surrendered or acquiesced to the political power of the California Labor Federation and the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. Unions are using their firm grip on the California State Legislature to derail this movement before it spreads out of their control throughout the state.

Round One: The First State Government Attack on Behalf of Unions to Stifle Local Control

In the chaotic and emotional waning days of the 2011 legislative session, the California State Assembly Speaker – John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) – and the leader of the California State Senate – Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) – gutted and amended Senate Bill 922, a bill originally introduced by another legislator about tuberculosis screening. As the new authors of the hijacked bill, these legislative leaders turned it into a high-priority union-backed bill meant to stop the proactive efforts of voters and local elected officials to blunt union interference in the competitive bidding process.

Despite aggressive opposition from construction associations, taxpayer groups, local elected officials, and local government organizations such as the California State Association of Counties (see opposition statement here) and the League of California Cities (see opposition statement here), Senate Bill 922 whipped through the Assembly and Senate on strict party-line votes – Democrats in support; Republicans in opposition. Claiming the bill “seems fair to me – even democratic,” Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law.

Senate Bill 922 (now Public Contract Code Section 2500) prohibits California’s 58 counties from enacting charter provisions or ordinances that forbid counties from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) with unions. The bill also prohibited California’s 362 “general law” cities from enacting such ordinances, because general law cities must submit to the authority of the state government for their municipal contracting policies.

But the legislature could not use Senate Bill 922 to directly undermine the local contracting authority of California’s 120 charter cities that exercise “home rule” with their own local charters. Charters are essentially mini-constitutions that allow city governments to supersede state authority over purely municipal affairs.

Instead of using a stick, the legislature had to withhold a tasty carrot from these charter cities. To discourage them from using their constitutionally-granted local authority over municipal contracting as a basis for prohibiting Project Labor Agreements, Senate Bill 922 creates a financial disincentive by cutting off state funding for construction projects in charter cities that enact charter amendments or ordinances prohibiting contracts that mandate contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements.

And charter cities that already have these policies will NOT be exempted with a “grandfather” clause. In the three charter cities (Fresno, Chula Vista, and Oceanside) where voters or city councils had already enacted policies prohibiting city contracts that mandate Project Labor Agreements, the city councils or voters would need to repeal the policies by January 1, 2015 or lose state funding for future construction projects.

See “Brown Tries to Stop Ban on PLAs: Signs Law Supporting Union Contracts” – FOX News Channel – October 7, 2011

Senate Bill 922 Was Somewhat Effective in Stopping Policies to Guarantee Fair and Open Competition

When it become law, Senate Bill 922 had an immediate impact on local policy initiatives to ensure fair and open bid competition for government construction contracts.

The new law nullified a Fair and Open Competition charter provision approved in November 2010 by 76% of San Diego County voters – a provision that was previously established as an ordinance through a 5-0 vote of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in March 2010. It also nullified a Fair and Open Competition ordinance approved on a 5-0 vote of the Orange County Board of Supervisors in November 2009 and a Fair and Open Competition ordinance approved on a 5-0 vote of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors in July 2011.

Plans under the “20 in 2010” and “21 in 2011” strategies of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of California for more county Fair and Open Competition ordinances were abandoned. Under my direction as project manager, the executive committee for the “Fair and Open Competition – Sacramento” campaign abandoned its signature collection from Sacramento County voters on petitions to place a charter amendment on the ballot in 2012 so voters could prohibit their county government from entering into Project Labor Agreements. Senate Bill 922 had made the effort moot.

With its allies in the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction and the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA), ABC of California and its affiliated chapters had also been lobbying for Fair and Open Competition ordinances at a dozen additional counties with significant populations and at several other local governments. We had also been developing strategies for voters to approve Fair and Open Competition ballot measures for three specific Northern California local governments where unions controlled a majority of the elected officials.

The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California had reason to gloat about undermining these efforts. But soon it was obvious that the unions had not hurt the charter cities hard enough.

Round Two: Unions Need the California Legislature and Governor Brown to Enact Yet Another Law

In December 2011, the “Fair and Open Competition – Sacramento” campaign, under my direction as project manager, submitted nine boxes of petitions signed by voters to place a charter amendment on the ballot in 2012 so voters in the City of Sacramento could prohibit their city government from entering into contracts that mandated Project Labor Agreements. Unions and their political allies got a break when the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters subsequently determined that our signature validity rate was too poor to qualify the Fair and Open Competition charter amendment for the ballot. An ambitious plan to protect the Merit Shop philosophy went awry, and the California State Building and Construction Trades Council had reason to gloat again, this time claiming it was “nothing short of a complete disaster for the ABC” and “a completely disastrous outcome for their enemies at ABC.”

Not all was lost for the beleaguered advocates of economic freedom, even as my seven-year tenure as ABC of California’s State Government Affairs Director came to an end. Voters qualified a ballot measure (Proposition A) for the June 2012 ballot that would prohibit the City of San Diego from entering into contracts that required construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements. It was the first initiative qualified by City of San Diego voters to appear on the city ballot since 1998.

The city councils of Escondido, El Cajon, and Costa Mesa proceeded with proposed charters that would allow voters to ensure fair and open competition for city construction contracts. Californians obviously still seek the best quality construction at the best price: an unacceptable option for union leaders, whose mission is always to obtain a union monopoly on construction.

The Democrat majority in the legislature needed to do something for the unions, and fast!

On February 23, State Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) amended Senate Bill 829 in a new attempt to eliminate any possible ambiguity concerning the financial punishment of charter cities where voters or elected officials dare to prohibit city contracts from including mandates for construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions. Perhaps not since consideration of Assembly Bill 60 (placing the eight-hour day in statute) in 1999 has the stated motivation for a bill been so brazen in its attack on specific business groups. Here’s an excerpt from the March 12, 2012 bill analysis for the Assembly Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection Committee:

Purpose of this bill. According to the author, “This bill is necessary because anti-union groups/associations continue their campaign to eliminate the option for local governments to utilize PLAs…These are mainly political attacks because PLAs are negotiated on a project-by-project or funding source (i.e., bond) basis and PLAs are not mandated under any state laws. Anti-PLA/union lobbyists, mainly the Associated Builders and Contractors, pushed bans in a few counties (Stanislaus, Orange, San Diego) and Charter Cities (Chula Vista and Oceanside) based on intense lobbying and campaigns waged by non-union contractor organizations that voluntarily choose not to bid on projects governed by a PLA.

The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California is thrilled to see this bill sailing through the legislature despite resistance again from a coalition of construction associations, taxpayer groups, local elected officials, and local government organizations similar to the one that opposed Senate Bill 922 in 2011. Nevertheless, opposition to the bill continues. Here is the written statement of Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) on the Assembly floor in opposition to Senate Bill 829:

Assemblywoman Shannon Grove Blasts Unconstitutional Attempt to Limit Local Control – April 12, 2012

Here is the video of her floor statement:

Shannon Grove Blasts SB 829 as Unconstitutional Attempt to Limit Local Control – April 12, 2012