Abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): 25 Fake Groups

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My July 31, 2015 article in www.UnionWatch.org lists 25 alleged community-based grassroots environmental organizations that in actuality are front groups for labor unions. There are surely more fake groups not yet identified.

These organizations object to environmental reviews of proposed projects until the project owners agree to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions to bind all construction contractors and their building trades employees. This abuse of environmental laws is called “greenmail” and has been going on in California since the late 1980s.

Labor unions are a prominent opponent of legislative proposals to change the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to end exploitation of this law to achieve economic objectives unrelated to environmental protection. CEQA is a labor law, used to organize workers into union representation when the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) doesn’t provide enough firepower.

Read the article California Unions Masquerade as Community-Based Environmental Groups – www.UnionWatch.org – July 31, 2015


News Coverage: California Voters Must Be Wary of More Borrowing Via Bond Sales for School and Community College Construction

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In July 2015, the California Policy Center released a 361-page report For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction. (Links to individual sections are below.)

For the Kids - California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational ConstructionAs of August 26, 2015, the report has received the following news media coverage:

Six California School Districts Will Ask Voters on November 3 to Borrow $1.2 Billion From Bond Investors – commentary by Kevin Dayton – Flash Report – August 17, 2015

Unions Seek Control of Recent California School Bond Measures – commentary by Kevin Dayton – Union Watch – August 11, 2015

School Bonds May Equal Taxpayer BondageVictorville Daily Press – August 8, 2015

California Schools Stick Taxpayers with $149 Billion in Bond Debt – Breitbart News – August 5, 2015

California is in Huge Debt Hole Because of School Bonds – KFBK News Radio 1530 AM/93.1 FM in Sacramento – August 4, 2015

“For the Kids” Borrowing Will Saddle Kids with Debt – opinion piece by Gloria Romero in Orange County Register – August 4, 2015

Tough Education Reform, not More Borrowing and Spending, is What Students Need – commentary by Ed Ring – Union Watch – August 4, 2015

Specter of School Bonds Is Haunting Californians – opinion piece by Ed Ring in Sacramento Bee – August 2, 2015

Statewide Report Criticizes Passage of School Bonds – lead story in California League of Bond Oversight Committees Review – July 29, 2015

Doing the Math, Bond Debt for California Schools May Not Pencil OutModesto Bee – July 28, 2015

First look: Poll finds support for testing — Pell grants for prisoners — Washington state chief: Put more dollars into education – Politico (Morning Education) – July 28, 2015

School Bond Proposal Stirs California DebateThe Bond Buyer – July 27, 2015

Report: Voters Better Start Learning How Construction Bonds WorkLA School Report – July 27, 2015

Deceptive Ballot Language for Solano College Bond Measure Not Unusual – opinion piece by Kevin Dayton in Vacaville Reporter – July 25, 2015

Statewide Report Criticizes Passage of School BondsFresno Bee – July 24, 2015 (reprinted as Report Criticizes Passage of School Bonds in California in Education Week – July 27, 2015)

Here are links to each section of the report:


My Comments Posted on www.DamTrain.com – New California High-Speed Rail Website

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Councilman Brandau: Thank you for your leadership in developing this DamTrain campaign to remind Californians that the $68 billion High-Speed Rail project between San Francisco and Los Angeles (scheduled to be finished in 2029) is a misplaced priority.

You and all of the people who signed the petition need to overcome three major obstacles:

1. Big-Money Interests: The California High-Speed Rail Authority benefits politically from the power and money of major construction and transportation infrastructure corporations and labor unions. See the top-40 donors to Proposition 1A at http://californiahighspeedrailscam.com/top-40-donors-to-main-campaign-committee-to-convince-california-voters-to-borrow-10-billion-to-start-building-high-speed-rail-proposition-1a-november-2008/

2. Ideology/Philosophy/Theology: California High-Speed Rail is a fundamental component of a movement to stop global climate change while moving society away from capitalism and toward social democracy. A significant percentage of Californians are committed to this movement and will never be turned away from their support for this project.

3. Culture Clash: People of the coastal cities and people of the inland rural areas have sharply different views on California High-Speed Rail. (Note that Prop 1A in 2008 won the support of 78% of voters in San Francisco while winning only 53% statewide.) These are two different cultures, and each one has disdain for the other. Supporters of high-speed rail sometimes portray themselves as bringing the gift of civilization and enlightenment to what one commenter on this site rudely describes as “the backwards-thinking Central Valley…” And the people of the Central Valley are aware of this condescending attitude and don’t appreciate outsiders trying to change their “way of life.” Common ground is elusive.

Current strategies challenging the project as it is advancing now: (1) advance credible lawsuits pointing out that the state is not complying with what the voters approved in 2008 as Proposition 1A; (2) limit or prevent federal and state funding for the ongoing operations of the California High-Speed Rail Authority; (3) make California legislative candidates accountable to the voters in 2016 for their support of California High-Speed Rail at the expense of other priorities; (4) identify generous sources of funding to qualify a statewide ballot proposition to amend or repeal Proposition 1A and its authority for the state to borrow $9 billion via bond sales for high-speed rail.

DamTrain makes California voters aware in 2015 that supporting high-speed rail while neglecting water storage and conveyance is a poor policy choice. In the 2016 elections, California voters will learn which candidates support this poor policy choice.

Memorial Day 2015

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American Flag Old Monterey 2015

California Bill Would Allow Contractors and Workers to Maintain Their Existing Health Insurance Under a Project Labor Agreement

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Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) has introduced Assembly Bill 842 in the California legislature. Here is the Legislative Counsel’s digest of this bill:

AB 842 “would provide that a contractor that bids on or has been awarded work covered by a Project Labor Agreement that provides health care coverage to workers on the project that is the subject of the agreement, that includes essential health benefits, as described in the PPACA [federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act], and that provides evidence of that coverage to the entity awarding the contract, is exempt from a requirement to pay into a trust or custodial benefit plan for health and welfare or similar benefits for those workers an amount equal to the amount that the contractor would have been required to pay into that trust or custodial benefit plan for health care costs for those workers.”

In other words, a non-union employer that has a bone fide health insurance benefit program equivalent to or better than what is offered by the applicable multi-employer union-affiliated trust for the same trade in the same geographic region does not have to pay the health insurance component to the union trust fund. It can make employer payments to the company health insurance program on behalf of its employees. The company does not need to pay to both the union program and ALSO its own company program (the costly “double payments” dilemma) so that its employees can maintain their existing health insurance.

What does this mean in practice? The Salinas Taxpayers Association took a position in support of AB 842 because the bill was relevant to Project Labor Agreement controversies in Salinas. Here is the Salinas Taxpayers Association letter on Assembly Bill 842:

Salinas Taxpayers Association - Support AB 842 - Project Labor Agreement Equivalent Fringe Health Benefits - April 15, 2015

Salinas Taxpayers Association - Support AB 842 - Project Labor Agreement Equivalent Fringe Health Benefits - April 15, 2015


Several of the more than 200 government-mandated Project Labor Agreements imposed in California have included such language for not just health insurance but for ALL legitimate fringe benefits. One prominent example is the San Diego Unified School District. A Project Labor Agreement administrator was given the authority to determine if non-union contractors provided equivalent benefit plans. (Below, see the relevant language from the Project Labor Agreement.)

Note that unions (as well as labor compliance programs or personnel) monitor contractors that claim equivalent fringe benefit plans. Unions have also challenged decisions of PLA administrators concluding that non-union contractors have equivalent benefits. Two examples at San Diego Unified School District:

The United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local Union No. 45 went after A Good Roofer, Inc. because the company did not submit its fringe benefit package to the Project Labor Coordinator for evaluation to determine if it was equivalent or better than the union package. The Roofers union demanded that A Good Roofer, Inc. pay employee fringe benefits (as designated in the union collective bargaining agreement) to the applicable union trust funds, along with interest, costs, and liquidated damages. See SDUSD PLA Grievance – A Good Roofer, Inc.

The San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council went after the San Diego Unified School District claiming it improperly determined under Section 5.2 of the Project Labor Agreement that Standard Electronics had a fringe benefit program equivalent to the program administered by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local No. 569. See SDUSD PLA Grievance SDUSD & Standard Electronics.

Here is the language from the San Diego Unified School District Project Labor Agreement:

Section 5.2 Benefits. (a) Contractors shall pay contributions to the established employee benefit funds in the amounts designated in the appropriate Schedule A; and make all employee ­authorized deductions in the amounts designated in the appropriate Schedule A: provided, however, that the Contractor and Unions agree that only such bona fide employee benefits as accrue to the direct benefit of the employees (such as pension and annuity, health and welfare, vacation, apprenticeship, and training funds) shall be included in this requirement and required to be paid by the Contractor on the Project; and provided further, however, that such contributions shall not exceed the contribution amounts set forth in the applicable prevailing wage determination.

Unless otherwise required by law, Contractors who have fringe benefits for their core workforce equal to or better than those designated in the Schedule A do not have to pay the fringe benefit contribution designated in the Schedule A on the core work force and may utilize their own fringe benefits. The Project Labor Coordinator will be responsible for determining whether the benefits are equal to or better than those designated in the Schedule A’s. Contractors must submit their fringe benefit packages to the Project Labor Coordinator for evaluation prior to bidding. Contractors may only take credit against the prevailing wage in accordance with the Prevailing Wage Statute and the difference between the hourly cost, if any, of the fringe benefit provided and the hourly cost of the applicable fringe benefit portion of the wage determination must be paid to the worker as wages. Benefits designated in the Schedule A will be paid on all employees dispatched by the Union.

(b) Where applicable, the Contractor adopts and agrees to be bound by the written terms of the applicable, legally established, trust agreement(s) specifying the detailed basis on which payments are to be made into, and benefits paid out of, such trust funds for its employees. The Contractor authorizes the Parties to such trust funds to appoint trustees and successors’ trustees to administer the trust funds and hereby ratifies and accepts the trustees so appointed as if made by the Contractor.

(c) Each Contractor and Subcontractor is required to certify to the Project Labor Coordinator that it has paid all benefit contributions due and owing to the appropriate Trust(s) or fringe benefit programs prior to the receipt of its final payment and/or retention. Further, upon timely notification by a Union to the Project Labor Coordinator, the Project Labor Coordinator shall work with any Contractor or Subcontractor who is delinquent in payments to assure that proper benefit contributions are made, to the extent of requesting the District or the prime Contractor to withhold payments otherwise due such Contractor, until such contributions have been made or otherwise guaranteed.

This example shows that Assembly Bill 842 proposes a feasible policy. In fact, AB 842 could be expanded to encompass ALL bone fide fringe benefit plans and not just health insurance. Nevertheless, expect the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and individual unions to oppose the bill.

West Sacramento School District Uses Union-Only Apprenticeship Policy to Boot Lease-Leaseback Contractor

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Tonight (April 23, 2015), the board of trustees for the Washington Unified School District (in West Sacramento) will reject a construction company from a lease-leaseback contract because unions will not agree to dispatch apprentices to the company.

The staff report for “Adopt Resolution 1415-22 for the Bryte Career Technical Education Campus Phase #1 Project (Implement the Capital Investment Program for Sustainability Initiatives / Facility Improvements through Measure V Funds)” states the following:

Bid #3, Landmark Construction, was highest bid by almost $1,000,000 (17%). Bidder #1 and #2, the point spread between them was significant (10%) and after the formal interviews the team felt that the best value of the three (3) submittals received was from Bobo Construction (bidder #2). The team began contract negotiations with Bobo Construction to finalize a lease lease-back (LLB) document. Unfortunately, during contract negotiations it was determined that the District’s pre-apprenticeship requirements could not be met by Bobo Construction. As a result, the team is reaching out to Landmark Construction in an effort to negotiate and finalize a contract.

At various times over the past 15 years, construction trade unions have lobbied Northern California local governments for local apprenticeship policies that supplant existing state law. Of course those self-interested policies are meant to cut bid competition and limit workers’ freedom of choice in training programs.

Those policies have been rejected by elected boards at some local governments and passed by others, often after amendments. But until now there has not been a high-profile case in which a construction company lost a major project because of such a policy.

The Washington Unified School District board of trustees quietly passed the union-backed apprenticeship policy in November 2013 that requires all contractors to obtain apprentices from union-affiliated programs. Now unions have been able to use this policy as the basis to get the school district to deprive a Merit Shop construction company of a contract. This action raises the cost of the project by $1 million (17%).

Here is the discriminatory policy: Washington Unified School District Resolution #1314-10 – Resolution Establishing Apprenticeship Graduation and Local Hire Requirements for Hiring on School Construction Projects.

For details, see the email below from the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction to the elected board and administrators of the Washington Unified School District.

From: “Eric Christen”
Date: April 23, 2015 at 9:40:01 AM PDT

Board of Trustees,

As your staff and legal counsel have been unresponsive to our earlier email I am now forwarding this issue on to you.

The Washington Unified School District has implemented illegal pre-qualification requirements and is arbitrarily using these requirements to favor certain construction contractors, certain state-approved apprenticeship programs, and certain apprentices at the expense of others.

On April 21, 2015, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) learned that your selected (but not contracted) lease-leaseback contractor Bobo Construction will not be working on the district’s Bryte Culinary Arts project or on the District Office project. The vague reason given by a district consultant for this decision: “During contract negotiations, it was determined that the District’s Apprenticeship requirements could not be met by Bobo Construction.”

We inquired with Bobo Construction representatives, who informed us they left voice mails and sent emails to the Washington Unified School District asking specifically what requirements it did not meet, how the district determined that it could not meet the requirements, and who determined it could not meet the requirements. Suspiciously but not surprisingly, there has been no official response from the school district.

This unusual and disturbing incident, based on both the current situation and previous attempts to discriminate against non-signatory firms using similar tactics leads us to conclude that unions have engineered this latest episode so as to benefit its members. We will be submitting a public records request to confirm the involvement of union officials in these discussions leading to this decision and to determine specifically why the district ceased communication with Bobo Construction.

Bobo Construction had submitted a pre-qualification questionnaire and was approved and deemed eligible to work on these projects. It also submitted bids by the deadline. We will be checking on this to ensure Bobo Construction complied with every requirement.

Bobo Construction representatives say they typically request Carpenters and Laborers apprentices from the state-approved unilateral apprenticeship programs operated by the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). These programs are approved by the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards to train apprentices on public works projects in Yolo County.

But the Washington Unified School District insists in its regulations that its contractors have to request and train apprentices exclusively from programs overseen by Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees (JATCs) affiliated with trade unions. Unilateral (union-free) apprenticeship programs are not regarded as eligible or legitimate training programs. The attached resolution, that the board approved in November of 2013, is where this language comes from.

Apprentices in these JATC programs pay union dues and fees and their fringe benefits indicated in prevailing wage determinations are paid into union-affiliated trust funds. The district’s decision to only accept apprentices from those programs is clearly favoritism for union apprentices, for union-affiliated apprenticeship programs overseen by Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees, and for construction companies that have agreements to train through union-affiliated apprenticeship programs overseen by Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees.

Nevertheless, to try to keep the peace and comply with this illegal requirement, Bobo Construction contacted representatives of the Carpenters and Laborers unions to arrange for a one-job subscription agreement to use union apprentices on Washington Unified School District projects. By refusing to arrange such agreements (an illegal action), these union officials disqualified Bobo Construction.

Basically, the Washington Unified School District has given union officials the power to decide which contractors get construction contracts at the district. Unions – not contractors – have the authority to dispatch apprentices. A union apprenticeship program can withhold its apprentices from being dispatched to any contractor (including a union contractor) and thus disqualify it.

Subcontractors for Bobo Construction are now reportedly being told that Bobo Construction was “kicked off the job” because it was non-union, and anyone wanting to work at the district better be unionized. Reportedly union officials had been lobbying the elected board of trustees and district administrators and contractors to deny the work to Bobo Construction. We will be submitting a public records request to confirm the extent of these communications.

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction is committed to ensuring that all capable and responsible bidders and their capable and qualified workers are able to work on taxpayer-funded construction projects. Following are the next steps we will be taking to ensure that all contractors, workers, and apprentices are treated equally and fairly:

Submission of the aforementioned public record request the goal of which is twofold: Show who in 2013 gave you the discriminatory language you voted to approve and secondly, what special interests have been involved in seeing that Bobo Construction was rejected in favor of a signatory firm whose bid was $1 MILLION HIGHER.

Undertake a public relations campaign to inform community leaders, the general public, and area media about how staff and elected officials of the Washington Unified School District are breaking the law and manipulating the district’s bidding process to raise construction costs and benefit union special interests. Your decision to choose Landmark Construction over Bobo alone will cost the District $1 million!

We will be researching the origin of this discriminatory apprenticeship requirement(s) and will expose it to the public.

Should this issue not be resolved by the board at your meeting tonight (April 23rd) we will recommend that Bobo Construction file a lawsuit against the Washington Unified School District over its patently illegal apprenticeship requirements.

Finally, a stench of corruption envelopes this entire process. CFEC has been protecting the rights of contractors, workers, and apprentices in California for almost 16 years and I have never seen such a blatant political power play as I have witnessed in the past few days. CFEC will do everything within its considerable resources to see to it that whomever is behind this attempt to play favorites using taxpayer dollars will be held accountable to the people for those actions, especially if public records or other documents unearthed in various stages of litigation reveal what the District has done in pursuit of political ambition.

In conclusion, we encourage you to work with Bobo Construction, which is a well-established company willing to resolve reasonable differences in order to perform the outstanding work that your district expects. The alternative is getting to deal instead with this organization, exceptional for its zeal to expose the bidding corruption eroding many school districts in California.

We look forward to hearing that Bobo Construction is back performing the best work at the best price for the taxpayers and students of the Washington Unified School District. We also look forward to hearing that the Washington Unified School District will no longer implement illegal policies that favor unionized contractors, unionized apprenticeship programs, and unionized apprentices. It’s not necessary, it’s wrong, it’s not desired by the public, and it’s illegal.

You are encouraged to contact me at xxx or xxx.

Eric Damian Christen
Executive Director
Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

Chula Vista Elementary School District Puts Project Labor Agreement on Consent Calendar

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The typical Project Labor Agreement deliberation at California local governments often endures for hours, with several dozen speakers pounding away with their arguments and attacks on their opponents. Presiding officers of local agency boards routinely declare that the Project Labor Agreement item has set a record for most submitted speaker cards. Arguably this is the most intense and contentious issue now encountered on the local level in California.

Now the elected board of the Chula Vista Elementary School District is trying to slip a Project Labor Agreement through the process without experiencing the obligatory legislative agonies. The meeting agenda for April 15, 2015 assigns the item to the consent calendar as Item 5P.

See Chula Vista Elementary School District Board of Trustees April 15, 2015 Meeting Agenda with Project Labor Agreement

In 2010, 56% of voters in the City of Chula Vista voted for Measure G, which prohibited the city from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions. Nevertheless, the board decided to put the item on the consent calendar.

Update: at the meeting, a board member removed the item from the consent calendar, and several supporters and opponents spoke on it. The board then approved it on a 4-1 vote.

Public Needs to Be Informed About Project Labor Agreement for Measure L Projects at Cuesta College

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Here’s my email to the Cuesta College (San Luis Obispo Community College District) elected board of trustees and top administrators regarding the sneaky effort to require its construction contractors to sign a “Project Labor Agreement” with unions as a condition of working on projects funded by Measure L. In November 2014, 62.6% of voters authorized the district to borrow $275 million for construction projects by selling bonds to investors.

Subject: Public Needs to Be Informed About Project Labor Agreement for Measure L Projects at Cuesta College
From: Kevin Dayton
Date: February 2, 2015 at 2:42:59 PM PST

Dear Cuesta College Board of Trustees:

I haven’t been able to find any official information provided to voters before Election Day about the plan of Cuesta College to require construction companies to sign a “Project Labor Agreement” with unions as a condition of working on projects funded by Measure L.

To try to alert taxpayers, students, and other interested parties about the Project Labor Agreement plan, I have provided concise information about it to various media entities, including the San Luis Obispo Tribune, KSPY, KCOY, KEYT, KVEC News/Talk 920, the Tolusa Press newspapers, CalCoastNews.com, New Times SLO, the Cuestonian, and Paso Robles Daily News. See below.

Since you had a representative of the Tri-Valley Building and Construction Trades Council make a presentation to the board after Measure L passed, I suggest you invite some local construction company representatives to make a presentation, so that you have a range of viewpoints on this highly-controversial and costly proposal. Were local construction trade associations informed about the December 10 Project Labor Agreement presentation?

Also, shouldn’t Cuesta College officially inform ordinary citizens about the Project Labor Agreement plan, since they will be paying back the principal and interest on the borrowed money obtained through bond issues? I don’t see any News Releases from Cuesta College about it.

Kevin Dayton
President and CEO
Labor Issues Solutions, LLC


From: Kevin Dayton
Subject: Cuesta College board mtg 2/4 – proposal for union monopoly on construction funded by Measure L
Date: February 2, 2015 at 11:55:28 AM PST
To: xxx

Cuesta College board of trustees is discussing at its February 4 meeting whether its construction contractors should be required to sign a “Project Labor Agreement” with the Tri-Valley Building and Construction Trades Council as a condition of working on projects funded by Measure L.


This plan was kept quiet until 62% of voters approved the bond measure last November. Then the construction unions were invited to make a one-sided presentation about Project Labor Agreements:


Project Labor Agreements cut bid competition and raise construction costs for the benefit of unions. Here is a 2011 study from the National University System Institute for Policy Research: “Our research shows that PLAs are associated with higher construction costs. We found that costs are 13 to 15 percent higher when school districts construct a school under a PLA.”


Your readers might be interested in this proposed policy. Voters had no idea last November that this union plan was going to happen.

Kevin Dayton
President and CEO
Labor Issues Solutions, LLC

Want to Protest On-Site at the California High-Speed Rail Groundbreaking on January 6, 2015 in Fresno?

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A media advisory released by the California High-Speed Rail Authority on December 30 provides an update on how the California High-Speed Rail Authority will host an official High-Speed Rail groundbreaking ceremony on January 6, 2015 in Fresno. (Excerpts from the media advisory are below, or see it on the California High-Speed Rail Authority website.)

The media advisory bluntly tells the public that “This event is open to invited guests and credentialed media only.” But concerned citizens and taxpayers who weren’t invited to the event will express their First Amendment right to freedom of speech by protesting at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Are you interested in participating in the protest? Contact me at (916) 439-2159 or at kdayton [ at ] laborissuessolutions.com for information.

Fresno, Calif. – The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) will join government, community, transportation, business and labor leaders on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 to commemorate the start of sustained construction on the nation’s first high-speed rail system at a ceremonial groundbreaking in Fresno.

WHAT: Official High-Speed Rail Groundbreaking Ceremony
WHEN: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 12:00 p.m.

WHERE: Site of Future High-Speed Rail Station
1625 Tulare Street
Fresno, California 93706

Media Tour Scheduled for 10:00 a.m.

Prior to the groundbreaking ceremony, there will be a tour available to media to highlight progress being made on the high-speed rail program in the Central Valley. Credentialed media on the tour will visit the old Del Monte Plant, which was recently demolished and is now having steel, asphalt and concrete recycled. Media will also view a building that is being prepared for demolition, and interview Authority staff and construction crews working on the first segment of high-speed rail in California.

NOTE: This event is open to invited guests and credentialed media only.