California High-Speed Rail Contracting Conference in Fresno – January 11, 2013 – Round Table Discussion on the Union Project Labor Agreement

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

UPDATE (January 11, 2013 at 4:26 p.m.): The round table panelist representing the unions in support of the Project Labor Agreement for the California High-Speed Rail – John Hutson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare Counties Building and Construction Trades Council [no web site] – objected that fellow panelist and Project Labor Agreement opponent Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction was “edging it on” and “smiling it up.” He said “I think I recognize you from before your sex change operation,” and then stormed out of the round table panel discussion, which lasted five minutes. Here’s a video excerpt now on YouTube: Latest Union Assault Against Eric Christen.

(5:09 p.m.) Now the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction has posted another video on YouTube with an excerpt from the Project Labor Agreement panel discussion at the California High-Speed Rail Conference. In it, the head of the Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare Counties Building and Construction Trades Council expresses his astonishment that “some little kid” was handing out information from Associated Builders and Contractors about Project Labor Agreements. He then proceeds to tell a story from “when he was a small boy” about farm life. See the video here: Union Assault on Eric Christen and Children.

(5:59 p.m.) Associated Builders and Contractors of California (my former employer) and the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction just issued a press release with their perspective about what happened at the truncated panel discussion at the High-Speed Rail Conference. See text below. I’ll post the union perspective if it’s released to the public.

January 11, 2013
CELL: 209-482-1697
CELL: 858-431-6337

Discriminatory Union Agreement Exposed on California High Speed Rail Project

Union Representative Losses His Cool at a High Speed Rail Workshop in Fresno

FRESNO—At today’s High Speed Rail Workshop in Fresno, hosted by the Kern Minority Contractors Association, John Hutson, who claims to be the head of the Fresno Madera Tulare Kings Building Trades Council, stormed out of a panel discussion about Project Labor Agreements (PLA) after it was revealed that a proposed PLA, called a Community Benefits Agreement, will shut out local workers on the California High Speed Rail Project.

“I was astonished when what was supposed to be an honest discussion about PLAs and whether they should be used on California’s High Speed Rail Project fell apart when ABC exposed that the draft PLA was highly discriminatory,” commented Nicole Goehring with the Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California Chapter. “It was sad that Mr. Hutson resorted to personal attacks and stormed off the panel and out of the building.”

Eric Christen with the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, another panelist along with Ms. Goehring and Mr. Hutson was even more offended, “Mr. Hutson couldn’t even have an educated discussion on the matter. In his opening remarks he resorted to name calling, derogatory statements and even hurled insults at my children.” Christen added, “When an organization like the Building Trades Council who claims to be the voice for workers is unable to have a healthy conversation about discriminatory PLAs, how can workers and taxpayers be assured of their true intentions?”

The Associated Builders and Contractors exposed the discriminatory language in the PLA that shuts out a majority of the workers in California’s Central Valley. One example is the referral language on page 16 (section 7.1.2) of the agreement that prevents contractors from hiring their own employees. Not only do workers have to hire all employees through the union hall, they are also prohibited from using more than five of their own employees. This agreement clearly eliminates 83% of qualified workers in California that are not signatory to a union. Where do the unions expect to get the trained workers for this project from out of State?

General Contractor Joe Garcia, a local Fresno contractor specializing in prevailing wage work stated, “I took time away from my workday to be here to discuss this important issue on behalf of my employees that prefer to work in a merit shop environment. The antics displayed today represent the reason why I left the Union many years ago. The taxpayers and voters of California should be deeply concerned about the union favoritism displayed in this agreement.”

To read the PLA, Community Benefit Agreement, go to this link:

Video from today’s event can be found at:

Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) is a national construction association representing more than 22,000 construction and construction-related firms with 74 chapters across the United States. ABC is the only construction trade association providing value-added services throughout the entire channel of general contractors, specialty contractors, suppliers, design professionals and associates. To learn more about discriminatory PLAs visit


The California High-Speed Rail project will be by far the most expensive public construction project in U.S. history, at a cost now estimated at $68 billion but recently estimated at $118 billion.

At 1:30 p.m. today (Friday, January 11, 2013), a round table discussion about the draft Project Labor Agreement for the construction of the first segment of the California High-Speed Rail is scheduled during the 6th Annual San Joaquin Valley Region Public Contracting / Central Valley High Speed Rail Conference / Expo (Jobs & Contracts).

The discussion will take place at 1:30 pm in the Sequoia Ballroom at the Downtown Fresno Radisson Hotel & Convention Center.

Speaking in OPPOSITION to the State Building and Construction Trade Council of California‘s Project Labor Agreement (Addendum 8 in the California High-Speed Rail’s Request for Proposal) will be Nicole Goehring, Government Affairs Director for the Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California Chapter and Eric Christen, Executive Director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.

See my comprehensive Analysis of the Phony Community Benefits and Other Provisions in the Union Project Labor Agreement for the First Segment of California’s High-Speed Rail.

Here’s a press release sent by the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Press Release
January 11, 2012
Contact: Eric Christen
(858) 431-6337

Union Monopoly Agreement for California High Speed Rail Project to be Debated Today

CFEC’s Eric Christen on Panel Discussing Taxpayer and Worker Rip Off

Fresno, CA – CFEC’s Eric Christen has been invited to speak today at 1:30pm in Fresno at the 6th Annual Central Valley High Speed Rail Conference to debate the issue of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on the California High Speed Rail Project. As CFEC and others have been warning taxpayers, owners, and workers about for years, the California High Speed Rail Project will in fact have a union-only Project Labor Agreement (PLA).

The State of California is set to begin spending $5.85 billion to acquire land and build the “initial operating segment” of the California High-Speed Rail. In early 2013, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will award several contracts for this first segment through an alternative bidding procedure called design-build. Five entities that are conglomerates of major engineering and heavy construction infrastructure corporations have qualified to bid under this procedure with “a goal” to have 30 percent of the work go to small businesses. It has now been revealed, despite promises to the contrary, that a union-crafted PLA has been agreed to between the unions and each of the five bidders meaning no matter who wins the bid any subcontractor who wishes to work on this project will have to sign a PLA in order to work.

“We have warned for years that this back room deal would be cut at some level and now we have been proven right.” said Eric Christen, Executive Director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction. “Not content with having every independent state entity that has looked at this boondoggle admit that everything from ridership forecasts to funding sources are flawed, now they had to go pay off union bosses with this PLA scheme just so they can buy off another special interest.”

Christen penned an op-ed that ran this past weekend in the Sacramento Bee (Bullet Train Relies on Distortions, Flaky Data) that specifically highlighted the many problems this project, based on a 19th Century mode of transportation, is having and why all Californians should be opposed to this $68 billion scam.

The panel will debate the issue of PLAs at 1:30pm in the Sequoia Ballroom at the Downtown Fresno Radisson Hotel & Convention Center. The address is 2233 Ventura Street, Fresno.



  1. AManAPlanACanalPanama says:

    The days of great infrastructure projects like the Hoover Damn or The Panama Canal are over. Testimony to this fact will be the never completed High Speed Rail boondoggle. Environmentalists, Big Businesses and now Big Labor have chopped their pounds of flesh from this project to cause its price tag to rise far beyond its value to the state. One of the only reason it remains on track to break ground is because Jerry Brown’s legacy is partly tied to it.

    The inclusion of a discriminatory and costly Project Labor Agreement makes sense when you realize that this project is also intended to prop up California’s flailing construction unions. With little other expensive building going on in the state, Big Labor needs this project to fill anemic coffers and ensure that the unions can make the necessary campaign contributions in coming elections which in turn keep politicians voting for PLAs.

  2. Ted Crocker says:

    The three ring circus known as the HSR project continues, and in this tent, the Three Stooges! Yeah! The question is whether or not the movie will end up being a documentary about the biggest boondoggle in California history or a comedy? Can’t wait until the unions find out the Chinese are going to have to build it! Stay tuned…