Union Officials and Their Buddies Running Orange County’s Coast Community College District Have Been Sneaking a Project Labor Agreement Past the Public

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NEW UPDATE (March 4, 2013): Here are the actions of the board of the Coast Community College District on February 6, 2013 concerning the Project Labor Agreement proposal:

3.04 Explanation of Project Labor Agreements/Continuity of Work Agreements by District General Counsel, Jack P. Lipton

Dr. Jack Lipton provided an overview to the Board of Trustees regarding Project Labor Agreements/Continuity of Work Agreements.

1.08 Public Comment (Items on Open Session Agenda)

  • Steve Young [trial lawyer and failed State Senate candidate]
  • Ray Van der Nat [union lawyer for the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trade Council]
  • Jim Adams [Orange County representative for the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trade Council]
  • Ron Miller [executive secretary for the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trade Council]
  • Doug Mangione [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union No. 441 official]
  • David Abbott
  • Craig Morrison
  • Glen Nolte [United Association of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Union No. 582]
  • Larry Lindquist
  • Don Summers
  • Dean Mancina [Coast Federation of Educators, AFT Local 1911]

addressed the Board regarding Continuity of Work Agreements.

3.05 a. Consider the Concept of Adopting Continuity of Work and Local Employment Agreements for Coast Community College District Projects Which Spend or Will Spend Any Measure M Funds

b. Discuss Appointing a Land Development/Measure M Committee or a Task Force to Negotiate a Continuity of Work Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council and the Craft Unions and District Councils Signatory to This Agreement for Approval by the Board of Trustees

After in-depth discussion, on a motion by Trustee Patterson, seconded by Trustee Moreno, the Board voted to appoint a task force consisting of Trustees Grant and Patterson, the Chancellor or his designee, Vice Chancellor Dunn or his designee, Sr. Director of Facilities, Planning and Construction, Jerry Marchbank, a Citizens’ Oversight Committee member once appointed, and District General Counsel, not as a voting member but in an advisory capacity, to explore developing a Continuity of Work and Local Employment Agreement with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council and the Craft Unions and District Councils, which Agreement would be used for all Coast Community College District construction projects which spend or will spend Measure M Funds. It was requested that a status report be brought back to the Board at the April 3, 2013 meeting.

Motion carried with the following vote:

Ayes: Trustees Moreno, Patterson, Prinsky, Hornbuckle, Grant and Keo (5-0)


UPDATE (March 4, 2013): Staff of the Board of Trustees Office of the Coast Community College District just informed me that it is “traditionally not their practice to share information” about the actions at their public board meetings until the board approves the minutes. That includes orally reading me the results of votes. Because the board has not yet approved the minutes of its February 6, 2013 meeting, I will not be able to inform you about the status of the Project Labor Agreement for Coast Community College District at this time.

Sunshine Week is March 10-16, 2013 – “Open government is good government”


To my dismay, on March 2, 2013 I discovered that on January 24, 2013, in a “special meeting,” the board of trustees for the Coast Community College District had scheduled a vote to negotiate a “Continuity of Work and Local Employment Agreement” (aka, a Project Labor Agreement) with unions that construction contractors would have to sign in order to work on future construction funded by Measure M, which authorizes the college district to borrow $698 million for construction by selling bonds to investors.

I’ve reported that construction trade union lobbyists are becoming much more sophisticated about circumventing public opposition and hastily whipping costly government-mandated Project Labor Agreements through elected boards of California local governments.

Unions are now consistently using two political strategies to foil opposition:

(1) Hiding the item in public meeting agendas and associated staff reports by using phony euphemisms for Project Labor Agreements, such as Project Stabilization Agreement, Construction Stabilization Agreement, Community Benefits Agreement, Community Workforce Agreement, Construction Careers Agreement, and Continuity of Work Agreement. They know that the term “Project Labor Agreement” has become familiar enough in California to be instantly associated with controversy and negative attention.

(2) Abruptly scheduling “special meetings” for elected boards to approve mandates for contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions, thus circumventing anyone monitoring local agency meetings based on a routine assigned schedule.

The sneaks fooled the public again.

Measure M was approved by 57% of district voters in November 2012, with no indication in the ballot statements that the district would consider a government-mandated Project Labor Agreement. In 2002, voters approved Measure C, which authorized the district to borrow $370 million for construction by selling bonds to investors. That construction was bid under fair and open competition.

The Coast Community College District encompasses Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, Westminster, and Garden Grove. Much of this district includes some of the wealthiest, most Republican cities and neighborhoods in California. This college district even includes The School of Sailing and Seamanship in Newport Beach!

The Orange County Taxpayers Association (OCTax) endorsed Measure M, noting that the Coast Community College District was one of only two educational districts to present ballot measures to the OCTA for review and that it complied with all 13 criteria for support, including #13: “The bond initiative states clearly to voters whether the district plans to build and maintain its bond-financed facilities under a Project Labor Agreement.”

But apparently union lobbyists worked behind the scenes to convince elected and administrative leadership of this community college to consider giving unions a monopoly on taxpayer-funded construction. A comprehensive staff presentation to the board on January 16, 2013 during a study session about Measure M did not refer to any sort of labor agreement with construction trade unions. It was sprung without warning.

Here were the union-backed items as listed on the January 24, 2013 agenda:

5. Consideration of the Concept of Adopting Continuity of Work and Local Employment Agreements for Coast Community College District Projects Which Spend or Will Spend Any Measure M Funds.

6. Authorize and Direct the Land Development and Measure M Committees of the Board of Trustees to Negotiate a Continuity of Work Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council and the Craft Unions and District Councils Signatory to this Agreement for Approval by the Board of Trustees.

According to the minutes of the January 24, 2013 Coast Community College District board meeting, board member [Lorraine] Prinsky “stated she would pull Items 5 and 6 to be re-visited at a later Board Meeting. After discussion by the Board, on a motion by Trustee Prinsky, seconded by Trustee [Mary] Hornbuckle, the Board voted to pull these items…On a motion by Trustee [Jim] Moreno, seconded by Trustee [Jerry] Patterson, the Board voted to bring Items 5 and 6 back to the February 6, 2013 Agenda.”

The head of the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council (Jim Adams) and union lawyer Ray Van der Nat addressed the Board and encouraged the board to proceed to adopt a draft Project Labor Agreement included in the board packets.

And on February 6, 2013, as promised, the Project Labor Agreement was again on the board’s agenda:

3.04 Explanation of Project Labor Agreements/Continuity of Work Agreements by District General Counsel Jack P. Lipton.

3.05 a. Consider the Concept of Adopting Continuity of Work and Local Employment Agreements for Coast Community College District Projects Which Spend or Will Spend Any Measure M Funds.

b. Discuss Appointing a Land Development/Measure M Committee or a Task Force to Negotiate a Continuity of Work Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council and the Craft Unions and District Councils Signatory to This Agreement for Approval by the Board of Trustees.

The February 6, 2013 board minutes are not yet posted [posted] on the Coast Community College District web site, and I have been unable to find any news media coverage or even any union newsletter reports about what happened. Strangely, the chancellor’s news briefs about events at the district each week do not mention anything about a Project Labor Agreement.

Here is the party affiliation of the five Coast Community College District board members, according to an outstanding database of Orange County local elected officials posted on www.OCPolitical.com by political consultant Chris Emami. (See 2012 School Board Party Affiliation Post – November 16, 2012)

COAST COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT David Grant (D) 2014
COAST COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT Jim Moreno (D) 2014
COAST COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT Mary Hornbuckle (R) 2016
COAST COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT Jerry Patterson (D) 2016
COAST COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT Lorraine Prinsky (D) 2016

It appears that Lorraine Prinsky, Jim Moreno, Jerry Patterson are politically active Democrats who endorse candidates in races for offices such as the state legislature. Jim Moreno appears to be running for a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors to be vacated by John Moorlach, who cannot run again because of term limits. California Board of Equalization member Michelle Steel – a Republican – also plans to run for this seat.

David Grant is a former president of Orange Coast College, one of the colleges in this district.

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