New Developments in Project Labor Agreements, as Shown in the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District Measure J Amendments to the Measure G Agreement

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

On June 20, 2013, the elected board of trustees for the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District in San José voted 5-0 to extend its 2009 Project Labor Agreement (called a “Construction Careers Agreement”) on projects funded by Measure G (approved by voters in June 2008) to cover projects funded by Measure J (approved by voters in November 2012).

Amendments in 2013 to the original 2009 agreement show negotiation trends and desires of an aggressive coalition of construction trade unions (the Santa Clara & San Benito Counties Building & Construction Trades Council) and its lawyers. The changes all reflect interests of the unions, rather than interests of the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District or its victimized taxpayers. Here are the changes, with explanations:

1. Expanding Coverage to Include Any Possible Variation on Pre-Fabrication Work

Obviously certain unions are trying to eliminate any possible loopholes or ambiguities that would allow a contractor to circumvent the Project Labor Agreement by performing work off-site. This new provision would presumably apply to manufacturers as well as building and construction firms.

2(f)(6) All off-site manufacture and handling of materials, equipment or machinery provided, however, work performed by any of the Unions, including pre-fabrication of materials that are directly part of the Project and are traditionally performed under the provisions of an existing Schedule A agreement of a signatory Union(s) on the effective date of this Agreement, shall be covered by the terms and conditions of this Agreement; provided further, that lay-down or storage areas or equipment or material manufacturing (pre-fabrication) sites dedicated solely to the Project or Project work, and the movement of materials or goods between the Project site and such dedicated site(s), as well as between locations on the Project site, and the delivery and removal of construction materials and supplies, including, but not limited to, ready-mix concrete, asphalt, aggregate, sand or earth that are directly incorporated into a work process or debris, earth or other waste construction materials removed from the Project site, shall be covered by the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

2. Providing Unions More Time to Claim a Dispute

The section outlining the procedure for a union to file a grievance and seek arbitration on matters concerning the Project Labor Agreement or applicable Master Labor Agreements for each trade has been changed in the 2013 version to allow notice of a dispute within seven (7) days up to thirty (30) days after the disputing party should have become aware of a dispute. That’s a change from 5 days up to 15 days as indicated in the 2009 version.

Obtain records of grievances and disputes on Project Labor Agreements in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past four years, and it’s likely an examination of those records would reveal a controversy concerning a dispute reported after the 15 day period.

3. Avoiding Travel to Union Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The 2013 version of the agreement establishes that arbitration meetings for jurisdictional disputes between trade unions will be held locally instead of in Washington, D.C., where the headquarters of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO is located.

10.(B).1. For the convenience of the parties, and in recognition of the expense of travel between Northern California and Washington, DC, at the request of any party to a jurisdictional dispute under this Agreement an Arbitrator shall be chosen by the procedures specified in Article V, Section 5, of the Plan from a list composed of John Kagel, Thomas Angelo, Robert Hirsch, and Thomas Pagan, and the Arbitrator’s hearing on the dispute shall be held at the offices of the applicable Building and Construction Trades Council.

Giving up an opportunity to eat at The Palm? The motivation could be simply to save money, or perhaps a Northern California lawyer representing a union or unions was sick of traveling to Washington, D.C. Obtain records of jurisdictional disputes on Project Labor Agreements in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past four years, and it’s likely an examination of those records would reveal a case or cases requiring a lot of travel to Washington, D.C.

4. Making Extra-Sure Non-Union Workers Are Dispatched Through the Union Hiring Halls

The “Agreement to be Bound” (Appendix A) that construction companies must sign to work at the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District now includes extra language to make sure no worker ever escapes the union dispatching system:

5. Employer accepts and understands (per Section 5.A) of the Agreement, that all craft labor including those not members of a union will be dispatched through the appropriate union hiring hall and that local out of work craft workers will be alternately dispatched to employers (not party to a collective bargaining agreement) along with their key workforce as described in Section 5 of this Agreement.

Obtain records of union grievances against employers on Project Labor Agreements in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past four years, and it’s likely an examination of those records would reveal a clueless or devious construction company or companies that sent employees classified within its “core workforce” to a job site without going through the union dispatching procedure.

Comments are closed.