Tag Archive for Long Beach Press-Telegram

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

Today I Helped the State of California Reduce Its $16 Billion Budget Deficit!

It’s hard to grow that self-righteous feeling inside about “making a difference” when you believe in limited government. When I vote, I never have that rush of joy inspired by knowing I’m advancing justice by forcing someone to stop being selfish and surrender more money to the government. I never get to use my vote to shout “Yes!” to complicated, intrusive, costly new government programs that would surely make the world a better place if there was just more money available. And I never get to cast a righteous vote to outlaw and punish behavior that offends people, such as selling horse meat for human consumption at a restaurant or café.

But today I helped the State of California to reduce its newly-announced $15.7 billion budget deficit. Yes, I mailed a Form FTB 3522 LLC Tax Voucher to the Franchise Tax Board along with an $800 check from my fledging consulting firm, Labor Issues Solutions, LLC.

Every Limited Liability Company (LLC) that is doing business in California or that has articles of organization accepted or a certificate of registration issued by the California Secretary of State must pay an $800 annual tax.

I did a web search to see if anyone had ranked the states in terms of establishing and maintaining an LLC, because I suspected California was near or at the bottom. The Tax Foundation’s 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index ranks California 48th, with New Jersey and New York squeaking by for the worst. I also learned that California has the highest annual tax and is the only state to charge a tax even if the LLC doesn’t make any money.

I keep hearing important politicians claim that California is quite supportive of small businesses and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant, lying, or an exploitive capitalist. In response, this is my story:

On February 9, I submitted my Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1) literally on paper, via the United States Postal Service, to the California Secretary of State to establish my new business, Labor Issues Solutions, LLC. I also had to pay a filing fee of $70. It was strange to actually write a check, using a pen, since I handle all of my financial transactions electronically nowadays. No new-fangled electronic stuff with bits and bytes at our highly efficient Secretary of State’s office!

So the state finally processed my application on April 6 and cashed my check. I guess I should be happy because I didn’t have to pay a bribe to dislodge it from the queue. California is still better than Russia as a place to do business!

I’m sure the Secretary of State’s office would claim that I had to mail the application on paper and wait two months for it to be processed because Californians aren’t giving enough of their money to the state to fund its essential services. This is what happens when one political party has a lock on all statewide offices: elected officials feel no sense of accountability to the people.

And I’m not kidding! In March 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated former state legislator Bruce McPherson, a Republican from Santa Cruz, to be Secretary of State after Democrat Kevin Shelley resigned the position in disgrace. McPherson was a true moderate and so well respected that he was confirmed unanimously in the Democrat-controlled Assembly and Senate. Nonetheless, Democrat Debra Bowen defeated him 45% to 42% in the November 2006 election.

In 2010, Bowen easily defeated Republican Damon Dunn, a young African-American Stanford graduate who played professional football in the NFL. So contrary to the usual claims about why Republicans don’t win statewide office, it doesn’t matter even if the Republican Party has a candidate for Secretary of State who is not identified as a conservative or a candidate who is not an “old white male” – the Democrat still wins in California.

And Bowen’s job performance doesn’t matter, either: an editorial in the Long Beach Press-Telegram on March 25 (“High-Tech California Lags Badly in Online Public Records Access”) asserts correctly that “the state’s 1990s-era website is as clunky and convoluted as it was when Democrat Debra Bowen took office in 2005 with a pledge to modernize it.”