Tag Archive for City of Richmond

Project Labor Agreements at California Cities for Individual Projects

Note: go to California Cities with Project Labor Agreements Covering Multiple Projects to see the multi-project Project Labor Agreements for the cities of Berkeley, Carson, Compton, Los Angeles, and San Fernando.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY

City of Brentwood

City of Brentwood Civic Center Project Labor Agreement 2009

City of Brentwood Civic Center Project Labor Agreement Parking Garage Addendum 2010

City of Concord

City of Concord Police Facilities Project Labor Agreement 1995 (Resolution)

City of Concord Parking Structure Project Labor Agreement 1999 (Minutes indicate an informal suggestion to staff; not an agenda item for consideration)

City of Richmond

City of Richmond (California) Project Labor Agreement Resolution 2001

City of Richmond (California) Civic Center Project Labor Agreement 2007

LOS ANGELES COUNTY

City of Long Beach

City of Long Beach Airport Terminal Improvements Phase 1 Project Labor Agreement 2010

City of Los Angeles

The City of Los Angeles and its Board of Public Works imposed Project Labor Agreements on at least a dozen individual projects and a program to improve Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control (ATSAC) systems before the city council adopted its multi-project Project Labor Agreement in December 2010. See City of Los Angeles List of Individual Project Labor Agreements November 2009. Here are a few examples from the mid-2000s:

City of Los Angeles Metro Detention Center Project Labor Agreement 2006

City of Los Angeles Police Headquarters Project Labor Agreement 2006

City of Los Angeles Harbor Area Police Station & Jail Facility Project Labor Agreement 2006

City of Los Angeles Fire Station 64 Project Labor Agreement 2006

City of Los Angeles Avenue 45 & Arroyo Drive Relief Sewer Project Labor Agreement 2007

City of Los Angeles Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control (ATSAC) Project Labor Agreement 2008

SACRAMENTO COUNTY

City of Sacramento

City of Sacramento Sump 2 Improvement Project Labor Agreement 1998

SAN MATEO COUNTY

City of San Mateo

City of San Mateo New Main Library Project Labor Agreement 2003

City of San Mateo New Police Station Project Labor Agreement 2005

SANTA CLARA COUNTY

City of Milpitas

City of Milpitas New Library Project Labor Agreement 2006

City of Milpitas Senior Center Project Labor Agreement 2008

City of San José

City of San Jose Civic Center Project Labor Agreement 2002

City of San Jose International Airport Master Plan Project Labor Agreement 2002

San Jose McEnery Convention Center Expansion & Renovation 2011*

SOLANO COUNTY

City of Vallejo

City of Vallejo Station Parking Garage Project Labor Agreement 2010

City of Vallejo Ferry Maintenance Facility Improvement Project Project Labor Agreement 2011

YOLO COUNTY

City of West Sacramento

City of West Sacramento Palamidessi Bridge Project Labor Agreement 1996 (Brown and Root)

* I am seeking a copy from the agency.

For the SEVENTH Time in 15 Years, School Board of West Contra Costa Unified School District Asks Voters to Let Them Borrow Money by Selling Bonds

The city of Richmond, California (in the San Francisco Bay Area) is the type of place where the so-called “One Percent” is much malingned. Richmond is the most populous city in the United States to have a Green Party mayor, and the mayor welcomed Occupy protestors to the city. Voters in Richmond will have the chance on November 6 to enact the nation’s first city soda tax (along with voters in El Monte, California).

Richmond’s supposed unemployment rate went from about 7% in 2006 to 18.5% in January 2010. Unemployment has now improved to between 14% and 15%, but obviously economic circumstances have taken a grim toll on the people of Richmond.

ASKING FOR MORE MONEY – SEVENTH TIME IN FIFTEEN YEARS – IT’S NEVER ENOUGH

So now the elected school board of the West Contra Costa Unified School District – based in Richmond – is asking voters for the SEVENTH time to approve a measure that would allow the school district to borrow money from investors through bond sales. (The district also includes El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules, El Cerrito, North Richmond, and Kensington.)

The amount to be borrowed this time is $360 million. That does NOT include interest payments and financial transaction fees.

The school board tells voters it’s “For the Children of West County.” Most voters aren’t exactly clear on what bonds are, but they sound like free money from the government to help the children.

Ordinary voters have generously agreed FIVE TIMES since 1998 to let the school board of the West Contra Costa Unified School District sell bonds to borrow money for construction. The total amount of the five approved bond sales is $1,270,000,000.00. Only once did voters in the West Contra Costa Unified School District not approve a bond measure – in a special election in 2003 in which two-third of voters were required to approve the measure, rather than the 55% customarily sought today by school districts and community college districts.

Here’s a chart of the five bond measures approved for the West Contra Costa Unified School District since 1998:

Amount

Date of Election

Measure

Opinion of WCCUSD Voters

$40,000,000.00

June 2, 1998 Measure E Approved by 76.0% of voters

$150,000,000.00

November 7, 2000 Measure M Approved by 77.5% of voters

$300,000,000.00

March 5, 2002 Measure D Approved by 71.8% of voters

$400,000,000.00

November 8, 2005 Measure J Approved by 56.9% of voters

$380,000,000.00

June 8, 2010 Measure D Approved by 62.6% of voters

But $1.27 BILLION is NOT the real amount taxpayers owe to investors who bought these school bonds.

According to a June 7, 2012 statement related to an upcoming sale of bonds issued by the West Contra Costa Unified School District, the district’s total annual debt service for these five sets of bond sales is $1.77 billion.

Taxpayers owe $1,774,072,000.12 because of interest payments to investors.

The $1.77 BILLION also includes fees for bond counsel, disclosure counsel, financial administration, escrow agents, rating agencies, printing, and insurance. Lots of people get a cut of the action.

Ironically, the West Contra Costa Unified School District is enriching the One Percent who buy these bonds. Commercial banks, insurance companies, mutual funds, and wealthy individuals buy these bonds, not to help the children, but to make money through the interest payments funded by taxpayers.

OF COURSE THE BOARD OF THE WEST CONTRA COSTA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT SOLD CAPITAL APPRECIATION BONDS

It’s frustrating to try to figure out what has been going on regarding bond sales in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, because reports and audits prepared for the district are inconsistent or fuzzy in some of the fundamental information.

Page 118 of the June 7, 2012 preliminary official statement for the sale of bonds by the West Contra Costra Unified School District contained the following useful information:

On August 11, 2004, the West Contra Costa Unified School District borrowed $28,746,812 by selling the Measure D Series 2002 C Capital Appreciation Bonds. The interest to be paid by 2036 will be $67,063,188, for a total burden to school district taxpayers of $95,810,000.

On October 19, 2005, the West Contra Costa Unified School District borrowed $95,250,422 by selling the Measure D Series 2002 D Capital Appreciation Bonds. The interest to be paid by 2036 will be $157,139,526, for a total burden to school district taxpayers of $252,389,998.

On August 12, 2009, the West Contra Costa Unified School District borrowed $28,746,812 by selling the Measure J Series 2009 C Capital Appreciation Bonds.

Board member Charles Ramsey, a longtime nemesis of the Merit Shop and statewide traveling salesman for union Project Labor Agreements, apparently knew that Capital Appreciation Bonds were unorthodox. According to the minutes of the April 28, 2010 West Contra Costa Unified School District board meeting, he asked several questions about bonds, including “an explanation of capital appreciation bonds and deferring of debt service…Mr. Ramsey continued by asking for a full understanding for the Board to know all aspects of capital appreciation bonds and other forms of bonds.” But true to form in ignoring his appeal of conscience to rely on common sense, Mr. Ramsey then made the motion to approve the bond sales, which were approved 5-0. There were no public comments.

OF COURSE THE BOARD OF THE WEST CONTRA COSTA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT REQUIRES CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTORS TO SIGN A PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENT WITH UNIONS

On May 3, 2000, the school board voted 5-0 to approve a policy that it will consider a Project Labor Agreement for each individual construction project of $1 million or more. (An administrative regulation for this policy was implemented on August 2, 2000.)

On December 6, 2000, the board voted 5-0 to approve its first Project Labor Agreement, for the construction of a middle school.

On July 11, 2002, the board voted 5-0 to amend its Project Labor Agreement to put the responsibility on the contractors (instead of the unions) to find local apprentices.

Charles Ramsey, a school board member for the West Contra Costa Unified School District, was secure enough in his position when he introduced the Project Labor Agreement to the school board on March 15, 2000 to acknowledge to the stunned Superintendent of Schools (who wasn’t provided any advance information on the item) that he had blindsided her:

I ramrodded and railroaded and I am proud to say that I did.

Somehow 200 union members managed to hear about the item and showed up at the meeting to support it.

Author of Most Comprehensive Study on the Cost of Project Labor Agreements Speaks in Contra Costa County, California and Earns Inflatable Rat Balloon Greeting

UPDATE: see coverage of the meeting by Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times newspaper in “Political Blotter: Politics in the Bay Area and Beyond:”

Was that a Rat on Contra Costa Boulevard? – Contra Costa Times – May 18, 2012


This morning I went to a meeting of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association featuring a presentation by Erik Bruvold, the President and CEO of the National University System Institute for Policy Research, based in San Diego. This institute describes itself as “a groundbreaking economic think tank that promotes high quality economic, policy, and public-opinion research to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local governments.”

Bruvold is the lead author of “Measuring the Costs of Project Labor Agreements on School Construction in California.” Published in July 2011, this study is the most comprehensive statistical assessment ever done about the fiscal impact of government-mandated Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), with a sample size five times larger than any other study. The study takes into account several potential cost variables overlooked in earlier PLA studies, and it was reviewed for its credibility and accuracy by economists at The Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy at the University of Southern California.

It was appropriate for Bruvold to make a major public presentation in Contra Costa County, located in the San Francisco Bay Area with a population of 1.1 million. For 20 years, Contra Costa County has been a hotbed of political and legal battles over government-mandated Project Labor Agreements. In fact, in some ways Contra Costa County has been a national leader in the union strategic effort to use government-mandated Project Labor Agreements as a tool to gain market share of taxpayer-funded construction.

For example, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors was the first government in California to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement for a public project (the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in 1994 – see background here). In 2001, the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council and the City of Richmond (in Contra Costa County) joined the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO in a court challenge to President George W. Bush’s Executive Order 13202 prohibiting federal funding on construction projects on which governments require contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions as a condition of work. (The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the lawsuit in Building and Construction Trades Department AFL-CIO v. Allbaugh, No. 01-5436.)

The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association describes itself as “a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting accountable, cost-effective and efficient government and opposing unnecessary taxes and spending.” This organization has long opposed government-mandated Project Labor Agreements – not surprising when the study “Measuring the Costs of Project Labor Agreements on School Construction in California” indicates a 13-15% increased cost of construction when the bid specifications of school districts require contractors to sign a PLA.

Obviously this study irks union officials. Several dozen union picketers and an inflatable rat balloon were in front of the Hyatt House in Pleasant Hill to greet the 93 meeting attendees.

In addition, two union officials (Aram Hodess, who is a California Apprenticeship Council commissioner and business manager of UA Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 159, and Kevin VanBuskirk, who is a business representative of the Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 104) were handing out this double-sided flyer at the front door of the hotel.

I felt Bruvold did an excellent job in explaining the following: (1) his institute spent a year collecting and confirming data from school districts, state governments, and the McGraw-Hill publishing company, (2) his institute’s study is exceptional for its large sample size and its effort to account for numerous potential variables, (3) California has rigid school construction standards that minimize cost variables and allow for reasonable comparisons, and (4) a weakness of the study is that it’s impossible to completely disentangle the increased costs of Project Labor Agreements from the increased costs of construction at the Los Angeles Unified School District. Bruvold also rebutted the argument that cost differences were the result of different government-mandated construction wage rates (so-called prevailing wages).

A bunch of union people attended the meeting and asked questions afterwards. Bruvold remained calm and objective throughout his presentation. He declined to speculate much on why school construction costs more under a Project Labor Agreement and why school construction costs more at the Los Angeles Unified School District.

I’ll tell you what I think. School construction costs more under a Project Labor Agreement because non-union contractors generally refuse to bid on projects with a PLA, and subcontractors generally refuse to participate in bids. Less competition means higher costs.

This common sense observation is confirmed by studies done by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University on school construction in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, as well as anecdotal evidence from 15 projects across the country bid both with and without a PLA.

I contend that school construction costs more at the Los Angeles Unified School District because of what I call the “Urban Corruption Variable.” In fact, I encourage someone to commission the National University System Institute for Policy Research to perform the same research but try to isolate the Corruption Variable and rank the waste, fraud, and abuse at the state’s school districts from best to worst. Contact Erik Bruvold here to inquire about the cost of performing this study.