Tag Archive for San Diego County Central Courthouse

Evading Public Accountability: Four Recent Project Labor Agreements on Government Projects Without a Vote

In the past 12 months, government officials in California have helped to arrange backroom deals with building trades unions to require construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of working on four publicly-funded projects.

  1. California High-Speed Rail Initial Construction Segment
  2. San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion
  3. New Sacramento Kings Arena
  4. New San Diego County Central Courthouse

Project Labor Agreements imposed on these four projects were developed under the pretense of being independent decisions of private parties within a design-build contract or public-private partnership. Elected or appointed officials of the government agencies did not deliberate or vote on these labor agreements. Yet in all four cases listed above, representatives of the applicable public agency played a key role in arranging the union deal.

For more information, see my September 17, 2013 www.UnionWatch.org article California Construction Unions Circumvent Public Scrutiny of Project Labor Agreements.

I’ve Failed So Far in Seeking the Project Labor Agreement from the California Administrative Office of the Courts for the New San Diego Central Courthouse

Before the public comment period of the June 28, 2013 meeting of the Judicial Council of California, I filled out this Request for Judicial Administrative Records for the Project Labor Agreement that construction contractors will have to sign as a condition of working on the New San Diego Central Courthouse. I submitted the form in person to staff of the Administrative Office of the Courts after I was informed they didn’t have a copy at the San Francisco office.

Looks like I’ll have to “renew my request” later in July. Even though union representatives claimed to refer to text of the agreement when they spoke before the Judicial Council on June 28 (hear public comments at the meeting), the Administrative Office of the Courts will not give it to me because it hasn’t been signed yet. See email below that I received on July 8, 2013.

It’s possible that union representatives were mistakenly referring to provisions in the Long Beach Courthouse Project Labor Agreement that their attorney Ray Van der Nat submitted as part of his written comments to the Judicial Council. Ironically, I had just obtained that Project Labor Agreement a few weeks earlier after several months of futile efforts to get a copy of it.

From: Pubinfo [mailto:Pubinfo@jud.ca.gov]
Sent: Monday, July 08, 2013 5:06 PM
To: xxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Request for Judicial Administrative Records — San Diego Central Courthouse Project AgreementDear Mr. Dayton,

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has reviewed your request (copy attached) under California Rules of Court, rule 10.500, “public access to judicial administrative records.” In response to your request, the AOC does not yet have a signed copy of the Project Labor Agreement for the San Diego Central Courthouse. We anticipate receiving a signed copy in two weeks. Please feel free to renew your request at that point.

Thank you for your interest in the judicial branch.

Judicial and Court Operations Services Division Court Operations Special Services Office–Public Access to Records Project Judicial Council of California – Administrative Office of the Courts455 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102-3688
pubinfo@jud.ca.gov
www.courtinfo.ca.gov
“Serving the courts for the benefit of all Californians”

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.

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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

See below for the press release issued this morning by the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction about the press conference today (June 20, 2013) to be held at 11:00 a.m. in downtown San Diego at the southern intersection of West Broadway and Union Street.

Here are the documents from California’s Administrative Office of the Courts exposing the secret deals that resulted in requiring construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of working on the San Diego County Central Courthouse:

March 22, 2013 Curtis Child Told State Building and Construction Trades Council of California Wants Project Labor Agreement on New San Diego Central Courthouse

April 4, 2013 Curtis Child to Rudolph & Sletten on New San Diego Central Courthouse Project Labor Agreement

April 5, 2013 Curtis Child to Robbie Hunter on New San Diego Central Courthouse Project Labor Agreement

May 8, 2013 Judicial Council Told New San Diego Central Courthouse Has Project Labor Agreement


PRESS RELEASE

June 20, 2013

Contact: Eric Christen

(858) 431-6337

Press Conference Today Opposing Project Labor Agreement on State Funded San Diego Central Courthouse

Public Records Act requests reveal backroom deal “negotiating” a discriminatory Project Labor Agreement on the project

San Diego – Today the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC), contractors, apprentices, business owners, concerned taxpayers, and engaged citizens will be holding a press conference opposing a state imposed Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on the San Diego Central Courthouse project.

Through several Public Records Act (PRA) requests, CFEC discovered that the local unions and the Administrative Office of the Courts for the State of California (AOC) have been “negotiating” a discriminatory union-only Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for the new $600+ million Superior Courthouse to be located in downtown San Diego. This was done through backroom deals without any public input.

This also comes after significant cuts to the project resulting in the loss of the underground tunnel connecting the courthouse to the jail which would have been used to transport prisoners. This will now result in decreased safety as prisoners are walked across the street to each location. “When you are looking to save money on a project that has already had its budget reduced by 40% the last thing you want to do is put a PLA on it which will only raise costs.” said Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.

CFEC will fight relentlessly to inform the public and taxpayers that workers are being discriminated against, tax dollars are being wasted, and safety is being compromised. This will include earned and paid media efforts such as mailers to key stakeholder groups and an effort that seeks to educate AOC committee members on what it is staff has done and why it’s a horrible idea, which If necessary legal efforts will be taken against. “As we have shown in the case of the Convention Center we will aggressively fight to protect the rights of workers and taxpayers, especially when public safety is at stake.” says Christen.

Today’s press conference will be held at 11:00 am in downtown San Diego at the southern intersection of West Broadway and Union Street, 92101.

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News Coverage So Far

The UT San Diego/San Diego Union-Tribune reported on the secret plot in a June 7, 2013 article, Courthouse to Be Built Under Labor Pact.

An editorial Public Safety Loses, Labor Wins at New Courthouse was posted on June 9, 2013 in the UT San Diego/San Diego Union-Tribune.

See my articles about this Project Labor Agreement:

Union Quest for Project Labor Agreements from Judicial Council of California and Administrative Office of the Courts Succeeds with San Diego County Central Courthouse – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – June 8, 2013

Judicial Council of California Imposes Project Labor Agreement on San Diego Courthouse – www.UnionWatch.org – June 8, 2013

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.

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