The Union Quest for a Project Labor Agreement on a New Sacramento Kings Basketball Arena: Part One – 2006

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Looks like the Sacramento Kings professional basketball team is on its way to Seattle, ending the union dream in Sacramento of a monopoly on building a $500 million taxpayer-funded sports and entertainment complex. Here’s Part One of a two-part series on the history of labor issues concerning the construction of a proposed new arena for the Sacramento Kings.

In August 2006, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of California, the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA), and the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction learned from multiple sources that top construction union officials in Sacramento were anticipating a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) if Sacramento County voters approved a proposed $1.2 billion sales tax increase in the November 2006 election to pay for construction of a new $470 million arena for the Sacramento Kings basketball team, as well as other projects. A Joint Powers Authority comprised of elected officials from Sacramento County local governments would make sure the Project Labor Agreement was imposed, and arena supporters asked Sacramento union officials to keep their costly plan quiet until after voters approved the sales tax.

Supporters of fair and open competition didn’t keep it quiet. In October 2006, my former employer Associated Builders and Contractors of California and the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction sent a mailer to 27,000 households in Sacramento County asking them to contact the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and Maloof Sports and Entertainment in opposition to a Project Labor Agreement that unions wanted on the project.

Front of 2006 mailer urging Sacramento County residents to tell the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and Maloof Sports and Entertainment to reject a union-only Project Labor Agreement for a new Sacramento Kings basketball arena.

Front of 2006 mailer urging Sacramento County residents to tell the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and Maloof Sports and Entertainment to reject a union-only Project Labor Agreement for a new Sacramento Kings basketball arena.

Sacramento Kings New Arena - Project Labor Agreement Mailer Back 2006

In the end, a whopping 80.38% of voters rejected Measure R to pay additional taxes to fund a new $470 million arena for the Sacramento Kings professional basketball team. And 71.43% of voters rejected Measure Q, an advisory vote on authorizing the use of the new tax revenue in part for building a new arena.

Union leaders and their political allies weren’t done yet. A second chance for a Project Labor Agreement would come in 2011, but this time the opposition would go on the offense.

Part 2 to come…

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