Marin County Citizens Didn’t Know about Project Labor Agreement When Voting in 2013 on Measure F for General Hospital Replacement

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At the January 14, 2014 meeting of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, a representative of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council read a letter dated January 13, 2014 from Jon Friedenberg, Chief Administrative Officer of Marin General Hospital. This was unexpected.

In the letter, Friedenberg expressed his support for Project Labor Agreements. He also noted that a union agreement had been approved with the “North Bay Building Trades” (actually the Marin Building and Construction Trades Council) for the Marin General Hospital replacement project.2014-01-13 Marin General Hospital signed PLA

I was not aware of that government-mandated Project Labor Agreement, although I had assumed that this project would be a union target after 68.49% of Marin County voters approved Measure F, on the November 5, 2013 ballot, to borrow $394 million via bond issues (up to 40 years in maturity) to fund the project.

On January 15, 2014, I began my effort to obtain background about this Project Labor Agreement. I soon found out that the elected Marin Healthcare District Board of Directors had voted on June 11, 2013 to require the future construction management firm to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions.

No opponents or members of the public spoke about the proposal at the June 11, 2013 meeting. One union official spoke in support of it, and Michael Vlaming of Vlaming & Associates made a presentation about it.

The Marin Healthcare District apparently hired Vlaming to prepare an official justification for the Project Labor Agreement. Formerly with Scarth-Lyons & Associates, Vlaming has obtained contracts to justify, negotiate, and administer Project Labor Agreements for local governments such as the Contra Costa Water District and the City of Brentwood.

On March 3, 2014, I finally obtained a copy of the “draft tentative” Project Labor Agreement. It was real, but everyone had overlooked it, for obvious reasons.

Board meeting agendas and minutes for the Marin Healthcare District are not easily accessible for review on its web site. There was no reference to this now-celebrated Project Labor Agreement in the Measure F ballot description (approved by the board on July 16, 2013) or arguments. Unions were not acknowledged even where the ballot argument described an “extraordinary coalition of Marin County leaders” supporting Measure F. No news stories about Measure F referenced the Project Labor Agreement, and a representative of the Marin Independent-Journal newspaper (which endorsed Measure F with a routine argument) admitted that supporters of Measure F had never mentioned it.

Basically, the Project Labor Agreement was hidden from Marin County voters, whose support for Measure F barely exceeded the required two-thirds threshold. If voters had known about the costly Project Labor Agreement monopoly for unions, it probably would have failed.

There was one indication that unions had a commitment for a Project Labor Agreement.

Out of $904,216.64 in monetary and in-kind contributions to the “Citizens for Marin General Hospital – Yes on Measure F – Sponsored by and with major funding from Marin General Hospital” campaign, $834,311.84 came from Marin General Hospital itself. But almost all of the supplemental contributions came from construction unions:

Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Issues PAC in Oakland


Northern California District Council of Laborers Issues PAC in Sacramento


Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local No. 104 Issues Committee in San Ramon


International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 551 Issues PAC in Sacramento


Operating Engineers Local No. 3 Statewide PAC in Alameda


San Francisco Laborers Local 261 PAC in San Francisco


U.A. (Plumbers) Local 38 COPE Fund in San Francisco


Sprinkler Fitters & Apprentices Local 483 PAC in Hayward


Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local No. 3PAC in San Leandro


Carpet, Linoleum & Soft Tile Workers Local Union 12 in San Jose


Glaziers, Architectural Metal & Glass Workers Union Local 718 in San Francisco


Painters Local 83 in Petaluma


Heat & Frost Insulators & Allied Workers in Benicia


California Teamsters Public Affairs Council Issues Account in Sacramento


DRIVE – Democrat, Republican, Independent Voter Education (Teamsters) in Washington, DC


Teamsters Local Union No. 665 in Daly City


International Union of Painters & Allied Trades District Council 16 in Livermore


Total from Construction Unions



Draft Project Labor Agreement for Marin Healthcare District – General Hospital Replacement Project

Marin Healthcare District Board of Directors June 11, 2013 meeting agenda, staff report, and minutes, with the subsequent Chief Administrative Officer letter endorsing the Project Labor Agreement

November 5, 2013 Marin County Election: ballot description and arguments for Measure F

November 5, 2013 Marin County Election: election results for Measure F

Measure F is about Safety and Modern Hospital Care – editorial – Marin Independent-Journal – September 8, 2013

Campaign Contributions as of September 21, 2013 to Citizens for Marin General Hospital

Campaign Contributions as of October 19, 2013 to Citizens for Marin General Hospital

Campaign Contributions as of December 31, 2013 to Citizens for Marin General Hospital

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