Tag Archive for Gerald Desmond Bridge – Port of Long Beach

Unions Want Port of Long Beach to Require Contractors to Sign Project Labor Agreement to Build Proposed Downtown New Port Headquarters

Port of Long Beach Headquarters

Port of Long Beach Headquarters

The Long Beach Press-Telegram has always been diligent in reporting labor policy aspects of proposed local construction projects. It reports in its November 13, 2012 article Port of Long Beach Officials Urge Caution in Headquarters Site Search that construction union officials are publicly calling for the Board of Harbor Commissioners for the Port of Long Beach to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement to work on a long-proposed new headquarters building.

A couple of people at the meeting – including Tommy Faavae of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 11 – were happy that a new building is being considered, wherever it may be.

Faavae asked that the port consider a project labor agreement when it is ready to build.

“I feel that a project labor agreement would bring a project on time and under budget and create real good jobs that’s needed here at the port,” he said.

The commissioners of the Port of Long Beach require contractors to sign these Project Labor Agreement for three major projects: Middle Harbor Stages 1 & 2 Project Labor Agreement 2010Gerald Desmond Bridge Project Labor Agreement 2012North Middle Harbor Project Labor Agreement 2012.

The Long Beach City Council approves the mayor’s appointments to the board of harbor commissioners. Consistent with its routine approval of costly and intrusive policies typical of other California coastal cities, the Long Beach City Council requires contractors to sign this Project Labor Agreement: City of Long Beach Airport Terminal Improvements Phase 1 Project Labor Agreement 2010.

Not so long ago the Long Beach City Council could be described as having a “conservative” or “pro-business” majority. (See LONG BEACH: Donelon Leads in Special Election for City Council – Los Angeles Times – February 8, 1995.) The Left has been whittling away at the city council for years, and now there is only one city council member who could be reasonably described as a fiscal conservative – Republican Gary DeLong, who just lost an election for the 47th Congressional district that encompasses parts of Long Beach and Orange County. DeLong was the one vote at the Long Beach City Council’s August 3, 2010 meeting against the Project Labor Agreement for the airport.

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster is an outspoken supporter of Project Labor Agreements and claimed in March 2010 before the Harbor Commissioners vote for the Middle Harbor Stage 1 Project Labor Agreement that “in his experience, PLAs always come in ahead of schedule and under budget, and have the added benefits of employing local residents and offering career opportunities for young people.” It’s uncertain where that experience came from, as that was the first government-mandated Project Labor Agreement in Long Beach, but perhaps he’s referring to energy infrastructure projects built by Southern California Edison when he was CEO of that utility. If they exist, such Project Labor Agreements are not generally available and their performance cannot generally be assessed.

Under these current political circumstances, expect a Project Labor Agreement on the new Port of Long Beach headquarters, if it ever becomes reality.

Unions Get Greedy at the Port of Long Beach: $1.1 Billion of Monopoly Work Not Enough

UPDATE: News Media Coverage of Board Meeting:

Port of Long Beach Discusses Using Union-Supported Labor Deals – Long Beach Press-Telegram – June 7, 2012

On June 7, 2012, the Board of Harbor Commissioners for the Port of Long Beach held a special study session to discuss Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on specific projects and a proposed Project Labor Agreement that construction contractors would have to sign with unions for almost all future Port of Long Beach work.

Representatives of the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council and two of the five Port commissioners are intent on requiring contractors to sign a standard PLA for all future Port work. The main presenter for the unions called for a PLA to apply to general projects costing $125,000 or more and specialty contracts costing $25,000 or more. This is the typical threshold sought by the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council for PLA policies at local governments.

Non-union workers showed up for the meeting in force and outnumbered union representatives at the meeting. 



Douglas Thiessen, the Port’s Managing Director of Engineering, reported that the Port signed its first Project Labor Agreement in 2010 for the $123 million Middle Harbor Project Phase 1, Stage 1 (now 50% complete after about 18 months), with an additional PLA signed for the $52 million Stage 2 of this project (now 25% complete). The Port is also in negotiations (anticipated final meeting today) with the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council for a PLA to cover six projects related to the North Middle Harbor Redevelopment project and a PLA expected in final form by July 2012 to cover three projects related to the Gerald Desmond Bridge: $30 million demolition of the old bridge, $40 million for work on a storm drain, and the $600 million erection of its replacement.

This means 11 projects under four PLAs at a total cost of about $1.1 billion.

Thiessen also reported that the cost of The Solis Group (a labor compliance contracting firm) administering the four Project Labor Agreements would run about $2.4-$2.9 million for the Port. According to a slide shown during the presentation, the Port is paying $371,659 on the Middle Harbor Project Phase 1, Stage 1; $307,565 on the Middle Harbor Project Phase 1, Stage 2; $781,033 for the North Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project; and $1-$1.5 million for the Gerlad Desmond Bridge project.

Thiessen also reported that the Federal Highway Administration and CalTrans are involved with the development of the Gerald Desmond Bridge PLA, and their particular concerns have resulted in a lot of back-and-forth discussions.

As a key point of their argument, the unions had Councilman Patrick O’Donnell express his support for the PLA and had staff for four other councilmembers and Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal read letters in support of a PLA for all future Port construction. It’s amazing how much these city council members know about obscure facets of construction management and labor relations! A bureaucrat for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the owner of a public relations firm also spoke in support.

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) made the formal presentation in opposition. Representatives of the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA) and Associated General Contractors (AGC) of California expressed their misgivings. A Helix Electric representative pointed out his company recently won a contract at the Port and should not be cut out of future projects with a PLA. I spoke on behalf of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC and the Dayton Public Policy Institute.

Port commissioners Rich Dines (president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Southern California District Council) and Doug Drummond announced their full support for PLAs. Port commisioners Susan E. Anderson Wise and Thomas Fields had some valid questions about how PLAs are implemented and their effects on small businesses. Commissioner Nick Sramek did not comment.

News Media Coverage:

Long Beach Harbor Commission Looking At ‘Port-Wide’ Project Labor Agreement – Long Beach Business Journal – May 22, 2012

Long Beach Harbor Commissioners to Examine Port Labor Agreements – Long Beach Press-Telegram – June 6, 2012