Eight Steps to Alleviate Taxpayer and Contractor Outrage About Project Labor Agreement on Planned New Sacramento Kings Arena

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On Monday, September 9, 2013, I began circulating a memo entitled “Eight Steps to Possibly Alleviate Taxpayer and Contractor Outrage about the Backroom Deal for a Project Labor Agreement on Construction of the Sacramento Kings Arena.”

I independently put together eight reasonable, constructive steps toward a solution based on my long experience with construction labor issues and government affairs. Not surprisingly, no one cares: “politics is corrupt,” as one resigned person told me. Nevertheless, I’ve fulfilled my moral obligation to ordinary Kings fans in the Sacramento region who pleaded with me to work something out so the team can stay.

To allow this Project Labor Agreement to remain on the arena and tell construction company owners to stand down for “the common good” will create a precedent that will end up giving unions control of every major construction project in the Sacramento region and possibly in the state. Knowing that no one will have the guts to criticize the deal in public, developers and public agencies will simply acquiesce to a Project Labor Agreement with unions to avoid their interference through objections and litigation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Here are my proposed eight steps, classified in three categories:

I. For the Taxpayers

1. Trust funds affiliated with construction trade unions (such as pension funds, labor-management cooperation committees, etc.) must reduce the public funding obligation for this project by 10 percent by investing $25.8 million in the arena project.

II. For Preservation of Principles of Good Government

2. The complete Project Labor Agreement (aka Community Workforce and Training Agreement) with addenda shall be released to the public immediately, that is, by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 11, 2013.

3. The Sacramento City Council shall vote on ratifying the Project Labor Agreement (aka Community Workforce and Training Agreement) after a public hearing at a city council meeting before October 1, 2013. To ensure that the People and the representatives of the People are adequately informed about the issue, the public hearing shall assign 10 minutes each for supporters and opponents of the proposal to make formal presentations.

III. For Fair and Open Competition and Freedom of Choice for Workers

4. The Project Labor Agreement shall include a provision that allows a contractor and its employees to maintain their own existing fringe benefit programs if those programs are equivalent or better than the union programs, instead of forcing that contractor to make employer payments to union-affiliated trust funds and depriving employees of benefits from such contributions made on their behalf.

5. The Project Labor Agreement shall allow the contractor to comply with Title 8, Section 230.1 of the California Code of Regulations and request apprentices from any program authorized and approved by the Director of the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards to provide on-the-job training to construction trade workers in Sacramento County.

6. The Project Labor Agreement shall allow for transparency concerning mandatory payment of union dues and fees by trade workers by including an appendix that indicates the exact cash amount of dues and fees, such as initiation fees, that would be requested of any journeyman or apprentice for any trade that is working under the terms and the conditions of the Project Labor Agreement.

7. The Project Labor Agreement shall allow “core workforce” employees of contractors not signatory to a union Master Labor Agreement to choose whether or not to pay union dues and fees.

8. The Project Labor Agreement should include language exempting the contractor from employer withdrawal liability if the employer made all of the required contributions to the union pension fund during the period it was covered under the agreement.

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