Tag Archive for Senate Bill 922 (2011)

State Water Agency Is First to Implement State Punishment for California Local Governments Banning Project Labor Agreements

In 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 922, which nullified current and future “fair and open competition” ordinances that prohibit California counties and (general law) cities from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions as a condition of work.

Along with the subsequent Senate Bill 829 enacted in 2012, Senate Bill 922 also prohibited the state from providing funding for construction projects to any charter city with a “fair and open competition” charter provision or ordinance. Because the 121 California cities with a charter have a degree of authority over their municipal affairs, the state legislature cannot directly nullify local contracting policies: it can only withhold funding to such cities as a financial disincentive. (To send an extra belligerent message to uppity cities seeking to evade the costly union political agenda, the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and its member unions and allied organizations helped convince voters in Costa Mesa, Escondido, and Grover Beach to reject proposed charters on the November 2012 ballot.)

Now the the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) appears to be the first state agency to implement SB 922 and SB 829. At its July 23, 2013 meeting, the State Water Board will consider a resolution to adopt a Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) Program Preliminary Funding Commitment (PFC) for the bankrupt City of Stockton to proceed with the $3.25 million Tuxedo Avenue Sewer Rehabilitation Project, by funding half of the project by forgiving principal on existing debts to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan program.

The proposed resolution includes a list of conditions, which includes a statement that “the City shall provide an opinion from the City’s counsel, documenting that counsel has reviewed the financing agreement, and confirming the following…

iv. There is no provision or other legal impediment to the City’s authority or discretion to adopt, require, or utilize a project labor agreement that includes the tax payer protection provisions of section 2500 of the California Public Contract Code;

Of course, the condition includes the false and extraneous reference to “taxpayer protection” meant to portray Project Labor Agreements as something fiscally responsible rather than something that cuts bid competition for the benefit of construction trade unions.

Note that the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) loan program is federally-funded, meaning that the SB 922 and SB 829 restrictions are actually applying to federal funds distributed by the state. California received about $147 million of the $2.1 billion appropriated for the program in fiscal year 2010.

Incidentally, no one on the State Water Resources Control Board has any obvious connections to trade unions.

Looks Like CEQA Reform Talks Are Underway…Good Luck People.

Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) was the California state legislator who was poised to introduce the gut-and-amend Sustainable Environmental Protection Act to amend the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in the waning days of the 2012 legislative session. (See my articles A First Crack at Analyzing the Proposed CEQA Reform: “The Sustainable Environmental Protection Act” of 2012 and CEQA Reform is Over for This California Legislative Session: Sustainable Environmental Protection Act May Return in 2013.)

Senator Rubio is now preparing a CEQA reform proposal for 2013. He tweeted this message on December 17, 2012:

Michael J. Rubio ‏@michaelrubio

Just leaving a mtg w/ 30 CEO’s and fellow legislators where we discussed modernizing CEQA. Thank you @CarlGuardino and SunPower for hosting!

Carl Guardino (@CarlGuardino) is the CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the group that has been leading the charge at the California state legislature for CEQA reform. SunPower is a solar energy company that has sought approval to build power plants in the San Joaquin Valley. SunPower has signed Project Labor Agreements with unions to build some of these solar power plants.

After hearing about this meeting, someone sent me a cynical email:

Never happen. Too good a thing for union bosses to give up.

Considering that in the last legislative session, Senator Rubio introduced and pushed the construction union-backed Senate Bill 922 and Senate Bill 829 to nullify or discourage Fair and Open Competition policies prohibiting local governments from requiring Project Labor Agreements, I agree it is quite unlikely that Senator Rubio will proposed any legislation that hinders the ability of construction unions to use CEQA as a tool in extorting Project Labor Agreements from developers. (See It Didn’t Take the First Time: Governor Brown Signs Union Bill #2 to Discourage Voters and City Councils from Banning Project Labor Agreements.)

Who else cared about this meeting? Senator Rubio’s tweet was retweeted or favorited by two journalists and also by the following people:

@ArnoHarris – CEO of Recurrent Energy, one of North America’s leading solar project developers, Board Chair of #SEIA and Board Member of #AEE.

Recurrent Energy is another solar energy company that has sought approval to build power plants in the San Joaquin Valley. Recurrent Energy has signed Project Labor Agreements with unions. California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) has targeted proposed projects of Recurrent Energy.

@chrisshimoda – Manager of Environmental Policy at the California Trucking Association.

This reminds me that the Teamsters Joint Council 7 union filed a CEQA lawsuit in 2010 court to stop construction of Madison Dearborn’s VWR International Laboratory Equipment Distribution Facility in Visalia. They claimed to be concerned that trucks would execerbate global waming, but what they really wanted was a collective bargaining agreement for the truckers.

@joe_lacava – land use consultant with the firm Avetterra in La Jolla (in San Diego)

Marcela Escobar-Eck@SanDiegoLandUse – keeping San Diego informed of breaking trends in Land Use, Community Development Issues and Regulatory trends…. and a few other things. A land use consultant with Atlantis Group in San Diego.

Robert Cruickshank@cruickshank – “Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.” Left Coast

Cruickshank does a lot of diverse policy and political consulting for the Left in a model similar to what I try to do for the Right, but he seems to be more successful at it, perhaps because his side is winning now.

@MrJacobMejiaPublic Affairs representative for the Pechanga Indian Reservation near Temecula. The tribe owns and operates the Pechanga Resort & Casino and directly employs more than 5,000 people.

In November, this tribe recently came to an agreement with Granite Construction Company to resolve a seven-year dispute over a proposed gravel quarry. CEQA was central in that fight. See Pechanga to Buy Quarry SiteSan Diego Union-Tribune – November 15, 2012.

Where the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust Spends Its Money: Now We See How Unions Spread It

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust is an arcane entity authorized by the obscure Labor-Management Cooperation Act of 1978, a law signed by President Jimmy Carter and implemented by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. There are no federal or state regulations specifically addressed toward these trusts, and these trusts do not have any reporting requirements to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Since its founding in 2006, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust has collected $5,110,095 in receipts, consisting of $2.6 million in seed money from another trust, about $1.7 million in “membership dues” (paid by power plant owners and contractors as a condition of Project Labor Agreements extracted by California Unions for Reliable Energy), and $450,000 in net investment returns. A chart of the organization’s finances is at the end of this post.

Where does the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust send its millions of dollars? I attempted to find out using the organization’s IRS Form 990s (2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008), state and local campaign finance reports, and other sources. See the list below.

1.  $1,095,000 – Taxpayers to Preserve Community Jobs, No on Measure A, sponsored by labor and management organizations (June 5, 2012 election in City of San Diego)

As of May 25, 2012, the California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust has contributed $1,095,000 to the campaign committee opposing Proposition A, a “Fair and Open Competition” measure on the June 5, 2012 ballot in the City of San Diego that would prohibit the city from requiring construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions as a condition of working on a taxpayer-funded project. The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust has provided 92% of all receipts for this campaign committee.

2.  $770,000 – UCLA Labor Center (aka UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education), part of the University of California Miguel Contreras Labor Program

The California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust has contributed a cumulative total of $770,000 to the UCLA Labor Center, primarily or exclusively for the establishment and operation of the UCLA Labor Center’s California Construction Academy, a propaganda operation that issues biased studies and bogus reports about construction labor issues using the UCLA name and affiliation.

The UCLA Office of Research Administration’s Office of Contract and Grant Administration received $250,000 in 2010-11, $250,000 in 2009-10, and $150,000 in 2008-09 from the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust. In 2007-08, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust contributed $120,000 for a “Workforce Development Leadership Academy Grant” sent to PO Box 951478 in Los Angeles, zip code 90095. (This is the address for the UCLA Labor Center.)

There seems to be confusion at the UCLA Labor Center about how much the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust has contributed to the UCLA Labor Center’s California Construction Academy. The 2010-11 annual report for the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education recognizes a grant of $450,000 from the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust, but a footnote added on April 4, 2012 indicates that the $450,000 is a cumulative amount for several years, with $180,000 as the actual amount for 2010-11. A press release from the UCLA Labor Center’s California Construction Academy tries to rebut a March 27, 2012 article from www.PublicCEO.com entitled Project Labor Agreement Debate is as Complex as It is Conflicted by stating that “according to the 2009 990 IRS Form, the UCLA Labor Center received $450,000. In fact, when clicking on the document, the amount the Labor Center received was $180,000.” (See this link: Correction on PublicCEO.com Post: CCA Advances Broad Construction Industry InterestsCalifornia Construction Academy: A Project of the UCLA Labor Center – March 27, 2012.) PublicCEO.com then countered with its own correction that stated “Editors note: Originally, the UCLA Annual Report showed a donation of $450,000, as was reported in this article. That was an incorrect total. The report, and this article, now accurately reflect a donation of $250,000. The $450,000 UCLA reported was a total of several years.”

This outfit of five professional staff promotes the political agenda of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, including government-mandated Project Labor Agreements and union control of so-called “green jobs” in the construction industry. The founding Academy Director and Senior Advisor is David Sickler, former Southern California Regional Director of the State Building and Construction Trades Council. The advisory board for the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education consists extensively of officials representing building trades unions. 

The UCLA Labor Center California Construction Academy was the organization used by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California to awkwardly and ineffectively challenge a study published in July 2011 by the National University System Institute for Policy Research in San Diego indicating that schools built in California with Project Labor Agreements cost 13%-15% more than schools built under fair and open competition. As part of this response, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust mailed a letter to local elected officials throughout the state attacking the study, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson mailed a letter to county superintendents and other educational officials attacking the study and providing the report from the UCLA Labor Center California Construction Academy.

3.  $250,000 – No 98/Yes 99 – A Committee of City and County Associations, Taxpayers and Environmental Groups, League of California Cities, Californians for Neighborhood Protection, Coalition of Conservationists

On April 7, 2008, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust contributed $250,000 to this No on 98/Yes on 99 campaign committee to oppose a statewide ballot proposition on the June 2008 ballot that would have restricted the ability of governments to gain possession of private property through eminent domain. The proposition failed – it only received 39% of the vote.

4.  $164,550 – “Other” (?)

The California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust reports that it spent $164,550 on “Other” fees for services (non-employees) in 2010-11. No additional information is given, and these expenditures are not classified as administrative, accounting, or legal services. I’m unable to determine where this money went, but I’m guessing it was used for something political that promoted unions and socked it to California taxpayers. Any ideas?

Contrary to some rumors, “Other” does not appear to be the union front group Citizens Against Identity Theft and Ballot Fraud, sponsored by labor organizations, which funded a radio advertising scam in the summer of 2011 meant to discourage Sacramento and San Diego voters from signing petitions to place Fair and Open Competition measures and a Paycheck Protection initiative on the 2012 ballots. See my post thoroughly outlining this scheme here.

5.  $100,000 – Apollo Alliance

The Apollo Alliance received $75,000 in 2010-11 and $25,000 in 2009-10 from the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust. This is currently a project of the Blue-Green Alliance, a coalition of environmental organizations and unions on a quest to stop global warming through government programs and a union workforce. President Obama’s former “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones was an influential founder and leader of this organization.

6.  $100,000 – Paxton-Patterson Construction Lab/Shop in San Joaquin County

In 2007-08, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust contributed $100,000 to the San Joaquin Office of Education’s Career and Technical Education Program to establish a Paxton-Patterson Construction Lab/Shop.

The story behind this contribution is a mystery. Public records provided by the San Joaquin Office of Education in October 2011 did not include any documents dated earlier than September 17, 2007, when the former County Superintendent sent a letter to Bob Balgenorth (chairman of the the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, and chairman of California Unions for Reliable Energy – CURE) thanking him for the contribution. Surely there was something beforehand that led to a private contribution of $100,000 arriving at the office! Those kinds of checks usually don’t arrive in the mail without extensive solicitation.

In addition, the records did not indicate whether or not the Paxton-Patterson Construction Lab/Shop was ever built. Where are the two plaques celebrating Bob Balgenorth (as referenced in the letter)? When was the photo op? Where are the photos? How was the money spent?

In May 2007, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of working on the county’s New Administration Building. (See my post here providing some background on that vote.) Is there a connection between the two incidents? 

7.  $50,000 – Taxpayers to Preserve Community Jobs, No On Measure G, sponsored by labor and management organizations (June 8, 2010 election in City of Chula Vista)

The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust contributed $50,000 to the campaign committee opposing Proposition G, a “Fair and Open Competition” measure on the June 8, 2010 ballot in the City of Chula Vista that would prohibit the city from requiring construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions as a condition of working on a taxpayer-funded project. The funding was in vain, as 56.37% of Chula Vista voters approved the proposed ordinance.

The ordinance is now Chula Vista Municipal Code Section 02-59. At the behest of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, Governor Brown and the Democrat Party leadership in the California State Legislature tried to financially punish the citizens of Chula Vista for enacting this ballot measure with Senate Bill 922 (signed into law in 2011) and Senate Bill 829 (signed into law in 2012). See my blog posts about these laws here and here.

8.  $50,000 – Fresno Area Construction Team (F.A.C.T.)

A group called the Fresno Area Construction Team received $50,000 in 2010-11 from the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Trust to promote union contractors, union construction, and union apprenticeship programs in the Central Valley. It appears to have the involvement of the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local No. 162, Plumbers Union Local No. 246, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 100. This group advertises, spent $51,862 on “consulting,” and even spent $992 on “travel and entertainment for public officials,” according to this form.

Financials: California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust

Year Gross Receipts Contributions & Grants/Program Service Revenue/Other Investment Income Total Revenue
   $ 2,595,954 “Contribution from Prior Trust”
2007-08  $    593,950  $    283,670  $      97,150  $    380,820
2008-09  $    463,792  $    506,403  $    (42,611)  $    463,792
2009-10  $    522,782  $    274,437  $    200,583  $    475,020
2010-11  $    933,617  $    678,209  $    195,780  $    873,989
Total  $ 5,110,095  $ 1,742,719  $    450,902  $ 2,193,621

 

Year Grants & Similar Amounts Other Expenses Total Expenses
2007-08  $    220,000  $    290,859.  $    510,859
2008-09  $    150,000  $      21,143  $    171,143
2009-10  $    205,000  $      16,839  $    221,830
2010-11  $    375,000  $    234,319  $    609,319
Total  $    950,000  $    563,160  $ 1,513,151

 

Year Revenue Minus Expenses Total Assets
2007-08  $  (130,039)  $ 2,595,954
2008-09  $    292,649  $ 2,888,603
2009-10  $    253,181  $ 3,141,784
2010-11  $    264,670  $ 3,406,454

San Diego Union-Tribune Doesn’t Mince Words in Endorsing Proposition A for Fair and Open Competition in City of San Diego

Proposition A in the City of San Diego – June 5, 2012 Ballot
 
Prohibits the City from Requiring Project Labor Agreements on City Construction Projects. Should the City of San Diego be prohibited from requiring contractors to use Project Labor Agreements for City construction projects, except where required by law, and should the Mayor be required to post online all construction contracts over $25,000?

On Sunday, May 13, the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper published an editorial in support of Proposition A, the Fair and Open Competition ordinance on the June 5, 2012 ballot in the City of San Diego. It’s titled Vote for Prop A – Don’t Let Bullies Win. The editorial board was NOT fooled by this “bullying” scheme: (1) unions worked with Governor Jerry Brown and Democrats in the legislature to pass two new laws (Senate Bill 922 and Senate Bill 829) punishing charter cities for banning Project Labor Agreements, and then (2) unions based their campaign against Proposition A on the claim it would punish San Diego because of the two new laws.

Also in the May 13 San Diego Union-Tribune, the Opinion section featured “Q&As drawn from interviews with both supporters and opponents of Proposition A, the measure on the June 5 San Diego ballot that would limit the ability of city officials to mandate the use of union-friendly project labor agreements on city construction projects.” See them here:

Yes on Prop. A: It’s Awesome – The measure will help the city avoid the costly mistake made by the San Diego Unified School District.

No on Prop. A: It’s Awful – The ballot measure will limit city options and lead to the loss of millions in state funds.

See the official ballot information for Proposition A here.

Yes on A campaign web site: Fair and Open Competition + City Contracts Online

No on A campaign web site: Stop Proposition A: Too Costly for San Diego

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

San Diego Seeks the Economic Freedom Found in Other States

On April 9, Virginia became the latest of more than a dozen states to enact policies to prohibit those states from entering into contracts that require construction contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions. See the map above, courtesy of www.theTruthaboutPLAs.com.

California is going the other direction, with the law enacted as Senate Bill 922 in 2011 and with Senate Bill 829, now at Governor Brown’s desk for signature.

But there is still hope for the taxpayers and workers of California.

On June 5, voters in the City of San Diego will have the opportunity to join the voters of the San Diego County cities of Chula Vista and Oceanside in enacting a ballot measure that prohibits the city from entering into contracts that require contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions. (The Fair and Open Competition charter provision approved by voters for San Diego County was nullified by Senate Bill 922.)

The San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council is targeting various San Diego projects for union monopolies under Project Labor Agreements, but San Diego voters can stop this nonsense and get the best quality construction at the best price for taxpayers by voting for Fair and Open Competition. For more information, go to this web site: http://www.fairandopencompetition.com/.

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