Tag Archive for Contra Costa Community College District

Unions Win Monopoly Control of Construction at Yet Another Community College in the San Francisco Bay Area: Contra Costa District Gets a Project Labor Agreement

On October 10, 2012, leaders of the Contra Costa County Building and Construction Trades Council finally succeeded in getting the Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board to implement a Project Labor Agreement acceptable to union leaders for future district construction. The vote was 3-1.

This is perhaps the longest crusade ever in California for unions to win a government-mandated Project Labor Agreement. Union officials began targeting the district a dozen years ago, before voters authorized the sale of $120 million in bonds through the first Measure A in the March 2000 election. Voters narrowly authorized the sale of another $286.5 million in bonds by appoving a second Measure A in June 2006, but a tangle of circumstances preserved fair and open competition as the bidding policy of the district.

With the fall of this district to the unions, almost every community college district in the San Francisco Bay Area now requires construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions in order to work on a taxpayer-funded project in those districts. Below is a status report:

Community College District (CCD) Year as PLA Target Year of PLA Enacted
Peralta CCD (Alameda County) 2004 2004, 2009
Chabot-Las Positas CCD (Alameda County) 2003 2006, 2010
Ohlone CCD (Alameda County) 2002 Not Yet
Contra Costa CCD (Costa Costa County) 2000 2012
College of Marin (Marin County) 2005 2008
Hartnell CCD (Monterey County) 2004 2004; rescinded 2004
Monterey Peninsula College Not Yet Not Yet
Napa Valley College (Napa County) 2004 Not Yet
City College of San Francisco (San Francisco) 2002 2005
San Mateo CCD (San Mateo County) 2002 2002, 2007
Cabrillo College (Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey Counties) 2004 Not Yet
Foothill-DeAnza CCD (Santa Clara County) 2007 2008, 2011
San Jose-Evergreen CCD (Santa Clara County) 2006 2011
West Valley-Mission CCD (Santa Clara County) 2005, 2008 Not Yet
Solano CCD (Solano County) 2003 2004
Santa Rosa Junior College (Sonoma County) 2002, 2005 Not Yet

Note that governing boards of several community college districts in Southern California have also required their construction contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions. Why are community college districts such ripe targets for union control of taxpayer funded construction? Here are my theories:

  1. Most California voters aren’t even aware that community colleges have elected board members. There’s an obscure political vacuum to be filled by opportunistic unions and other special interests of the Left.
  2. Public accountability for board members is almost non-existent. News coverage is weak. Taxpayers are clueless, and students are too busy to focus on the elected leadership of their institution.
  3. Serving on a community college board attracts relatively erudite, ideological people who believe government and education can be useful and appropriate agents to change the world.
  4. For an ambitious politician dreaming of running for a solidly Democrat-controlled state legislative seat when the current occupant is termed out, it’s useful to show evidence of experience in education. Ambitious politicians, of course, also have to be active in enacting policies desired by the various interest groups that provide financial and organizational support in primary campaigns, including construction trade unions.
  5. People attracted to the community college board often respond to policy proposals based on emotion, feelings, and idealism – and not so much on financial analysis.
  6. The main campaign donors to community college board candidates are parties with financial interests in the district; that is, faculty unions and other unions. It’s difficult to find campaign funding for candidates who advocate fiscal responsibility.
  7. There are a lot of cultural disincentives for an advocate of minimalist government and fiscal responsibility to run for a community college board. These college districts are very political, and the political culture is very “progressive.” Boards like to pass resolutions about foreign affairs, global issues, and leftist bugaboos.

Are you an advocate of activist government in California and want to pursue a political career? Run for your community college district board of trustees. You’ll fit right in.

A Compilation of Construction Trade Union Project Labor Agreements for K-12 School and Community College Districts: Construction Manager-at-Risk, Lease-Leaseback, and Developer-Built Schools

The following set of Project Labor Agreements on California K-12 school district and community college district construction projects have unusual elements.

First, these Project Labor Agreements apply to public school and community college construction projects, but private parties negotiated them.

In the case of Hartnell Community College District, a construction manager-at-risk negotiated the Project Labor Agreement without authorization from the elected board of trustees. The board nullified the agreement after the company had applied the agreement to three small projects funded by Measure H.

In the case of Delano Union School District, the district arranged a lease-leaseback agreement with a private company, which proceeded to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement.

The remaining Project Labor Agreements were negotiated by private developers for school construction projects built privately by those developers. After the developers completed these projects, they transferred ownership to educational districts. Starting in the late 1990s, developers of proposed large residential housing projects in California began making agreements with K-12 school and community college districts to build their own schools and then transfer ownership to the districts. (See Builders Pick Up Tab for Schools – Los Angeles Times – July 7, 2002.)

Government agencies did NOT mandate that contractors sign these agreements, except in cases when a private Project Labor Agreement contained a successor clause that continued to apply the agreement to follow-up construction contracts, even after the ownership of the building transferred to the educational district.

In some cases, local governments provided some public funding for specific components of these developer-built projects. As a result, some taxpayer money was spent on contracts for which construction companies had to sign a Project Labor Agreement. For example, in 2002 the Roseville City School District made an agreement for Westpark Associates to fund five new schools in the West Roseville Specific Plan. Two have been completed: Junction Elementary School and Chilton Elementary School. Chilton Elementary School cost $50.6 million: the developer paid $33.7 million, the state provided $16.9 million, and the City of Roseville paid for construction of a gymnasium that the city uses for adult recreational activies outside of school hours.

Unlike government-mandated Project Labor Agreements, some of these private agreements only cover a few unions (typically, unions that engage in “greenmail” by submitting or threatening to submit legal objections under the California Environmental Quality Act – CEQA – concerning the proposed residential developments).

Project Labor Agreements negotiated by private developers are not a matter of public record, and the list below is surely not complete.

Monterey County – Construction Manager-at-Risk Project Labor Agreement

Hartnell Community College District Project Labor Agreement – Measure H – 2004 – Negotiated by DPR Construction and Employers’ Advocate – Nullified After Three Small Projects

Kern County – Lease-Leaseback Project Labor Agreement

Westside Educational Complex for Delano Union School District Project Labor Agreement 2011 between Grapevine Advisors LLC and the Kern, Inyo, Mono Building and Construction Trades Council 

Contra Costa County – Developer Project Labor Agreements Applying to Schools

San Ramon Valley Center Campus of Contra Costa Community College District Project Labor Agreement between Windemere-Brookfield-Centex and UA Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 159

Almond Grove Elementary School of Oakley Union Elementary School District Project Labor Agreement 2004 between Pulte Homes and UA Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 159, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 302, and Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 104

Seven Schools (Including Creekside Elementary School) of San Ramon Valley Unified School District Project Labor Agreement between Shapell Industries and Windemere and UA Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 159 and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 302*

Placer County  – Developer Project Labor Agreements Applying to Schools

Junction Elementary School, Barbara Chilton Middle School, and Three Other Schools of Roseville City School District 2005 between Westpark Associates and Signature Properties and UA Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 447, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 340, and Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 162

Ventura County – Developer Project Labor Agreements Applying to Schools

Rio Del Mar Elementary School, Rio Vista Middle School, and Another Elementary School of the Rio School District in the RiverPark Development 2004 between RiverPark Development, LLC and Shea Homes with the Ventura County Building and Construction Trades Council

Rio Del Mar Elementary School, Rio Vista Middle School, and Another Elementary School of the Rio School District in the RiverPark Development 2007 between RiverPark Development, LLC and Shea Homes with the Ventura County Building and Construction Trades Council – Amendment

* I do not have a copy of this Project Labor Agreement, but an Invitation to Bid notice (bid deadline March 11, 2008) from Roek Construction (based in Stockton) for the $22 million new Creekside Elementary School (in Shapell Industries’ Alamo Creek Development) for the San Ramon Unified School District states that “The owner does have project labor agreements from the plumbing and electrical trades on this project.” A contractor informed me via phone that Shapell Industries and Windemere were signatory to the Project Labor Agreement.

A Compilation of Construction Trade Union Project Labor Agreements (aka Project Stabilization Agreements) for K-12 School Districts in Contra Costa County