UPDATE: This article was reprinted in www.theTruthaboutPLAs.com on September 21, 2012 as Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Abandons Project Labor Agreement Policy; Instead Directs Staff to Negotiate Project Labor Agreement for Sonoma County Airport Expansion.
Without a vote, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors directed county staff on September 18, 2012 to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions and with the input of contractors for the planned $54 million expansion of the runways at the Charles M. Schultz Sonoma County Airport. Supervisors listed numerous items to be addressed in the negotiations and asked staff to present an agreement to the board for consideration within two months.The original agenda item was to approve a policy to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of winning Sonoma County contracts for projects of $25 million or more.
After almost five hours of staff presentations, public comment, and board deliberations, the county board chairwoman Shirlee Zane (the primary advocate for the Project Labor Agreement) concluded that other board members had too many concerns about the content and meaning of the policy to reach a consensus. Supervisors Valerie Brown, David Rabbitt, and Efren Carrillo all had multiple concerns about how the policy would be implemented. Supervisor Mike McGuire stated his support for a policy with a threshold not less than $25 million, but didn’t show much interest in joining Supervisor Zane to push the proposed policy.
Government meetings to deliberate proposed Project Labor Agreements have taken an increasing amount of time over the years as supporters and opponents have become more sophisticated in their arguments and political strategies. This deliberation was the longest I’ve experienced in 15 years of fighting Project Labor Agreements in California, even exceeding the length of the March 2010 deliberation of the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees for its Project Labor Agreement.
At this meeting, 23 people spoke in support of the union policy and 29 people spoke against the union policy. Besides construction trade union officials and apprentices, supporters of the Project Labor Agreement included San Rafael City Council member (and former College of Marin Board of Trustees member) Greg Brockbank, Santa Rosa School Board member Laura Gonzalez (read her thank you note to Supervisor Zane), and Marty Bennett, a professor at Santa Rosa Junior College. Lisa Maldonado – executive director of the North Bay Labor Council – tried to frame the debate as class warfare between “wealthy families” and “workers who pay most of the taxes” and accused opponents of the Project Labor Agreement of exploiting illegal immigrants. She also Tweeted these comments:
- Wont Get Fooled Again! Special Shout Out to Supervisor Carrillo!: http://youtu.be/Rp6-wG5LLqE
- Spanks to Supervisors Brown, Rabbit & Carrillo for turning your backs on working families and supporting those who exploit workers!
- Thanks to Supervisors McGuire & Zane for their tireless support of working families and local hire!
- Supervisor Rabbit continues to back up North Bay Builders exchange anti worker supporters who got him elected.
- Why are the Associated Builders threatening our Board of Supervisors if they don’t vote their way? Talk about THUGS! pic.twitter.com/h3dZnhGI
- Press Democrat’s new low: helping Scab Builders (aka their advertisers) threaten our Supervisors to Vote their way! (& they call us THUGS!?)
- Scab builders can afford expensive advertising in the Press Democrat because they cheat & exploit workers
- Check out the ad that scabbuilders placed in the PD today. It’s expensive but it comes with an editorial of UR choice pic.twitter.com/jIKvTk02
- Well now we know why the press Democrat did editorial on PLA while the middle east is on fire! I guess it really PAYS to advertise
And subsequently from the top labor official in the North Bay:
- I thought@EfrenCarrillo’s public brawling was embarrassing. Then I saw his behavior in betraying working families & pandering to Keith Woods
- Well Money still talks in Sonoma County. The interests of tChamber, theNCBE & the uber rich Soiland family are first with Rabbit, Carrillo !
@EfrenCarrillo: re: ur betrayal of workers last night-Now We know how the guy you knocked out in a bar feels. did u hit him from behind too?
- It’s a sad thing when crazy Tea Partiers are your only defenders!
- Last night we saw Big Business owns Sonoma BOS. Xcept for McGuire & Zane We need Susan Gorin, NOT John Sawyer another tool of Asphalt Money!
@EfrenCarrillo Too bad there were no “rowdies” at the PLA vote, perhaps then you would have ‘defended’ working people?!
- Dime Con Quien Andas y Te Dire’ Quien Eres! ( Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are) .
- Muchisimas Gracias to Supervisors McGuire & Zane for supporting PLA’s workers & apprentices & good middle class jobs!
Opposing the Project Labor Agreement policy as proposed were representatives of several construction trade associations (the North Coast Builders Exchange, the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Western Electrical Contractors Association), the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, and the Sonoma County Taxpayers Association. I also spoke as a follow up to my September 17, 2012 email to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors about the Project Labor Agreement policy.
Below is a compilation of news media coverage.
NEWS MEDIA COVERAGE
Supervisors Stick Up for the 85 Percent – North Bay Business Journal (editorial) – October 5, 2012
Supervisors Divided Over PLA Details: Staff to Answer Board Concerns in Two Months – North Bay Business Journal – September 24, 2012
Sonoma County Spurns Blanket Union Plan for Big Public Projects – Santa Rosa Press-Democrat – September 19, 2012
Sonoma County Supervisors Want More Study on Project Labor Agreements – North Bay Business Journal – September 19, 2012
Sonoma County Supervisors to Consider Project Labor Agreement: Strong Public Input Expected on Tuesday – North Bay Business Journal – September 17, 2012
County Fails to Make Case for Favoring Unions – Santa Rosa Press-Democrat (editorial) – September 16, 2012
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
PLA Proponents Must Prove Benefits – North Bay Business Journal – October 8, 2012