Tag Archive for Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler

Exclusive: Local Government Election Results in California Highly Relevant to Labor Issues

California’s primary election night was overshadowed by the support from Wisconsin voters for state elected officials who implemented a modest reform of collective bargaining for public employees. But here is an exclusive report on how the June 5, 2012 election also brought good results for advocates of fiscal responsibility and economic and personal freedom in California.

Some might say that voters are being hoodwinked by FOX News, conservative talk radio, and the Dayton Public Policy Institute. To me, it’s clear that a majority of Californians do not see tax increases, more government spending, and expanded government programs as the solution to the state’s economic struggles.


Similar to what’s taking place in numerous states throughout the country, voters in the San Diego region are actively responding to a challenging economy by calling for smaller and more efficient government. I will elaborate in a future post about the ten years of behind-the-scenes tedious work that led to this development in San Diego County, but for now I’ll outline the good news.

I’ve already posted on the easy 58% victory in the City of San Diego for Proposition A, which enacts a Fair and Open Competition ordinance prohibiting the city from requiring construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement to work on taxpayer-funded construction. I also reported already on the 57% victory in the City of El Cajon for Proposition D, a new charter that includes a Fair and Open Competition provision and also gives the city authority to establish its own government-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wages) for city projects. (Boy, unions hate it when local governments take power away from the state!)

There will be a heated campaign up to November 5 for San Diego Mayor. Advocate of economic freedom (and San Diego City Councilman) Carl DeMaio will face leftist Congressman Bob Filner. This election will feature a passionate debate over the benefits of capitalism versus socialism! If DeMaio is elected as Mayor, there will be a dramatic change in political culture in the City of San Diego. I will write more about DeMaio in a future post.

(See Filner’s letter here telling the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce to oppose Proposition G in part because it would be a “fool’s errand” to seek federal funding for the city if Proposition G passed. It did pass, and somehow the federal money continues to be piped in, as shown by evidence of continued federal grants to the city’s Capital Improvement Program here.)

Also, Councilman DeMaio’s Proposition B to reform public employee pensions in the City of San Diego won with 66% of the vote. And this was not the only successful urban public employee pension reform measure to win voter approval in California on June 5: Mayor Chuck Reed’s Measure B to reform public employee pensions in the City of San Jose (a much more liberal city than San Diego) passed with 70% of the vote. Apparently Californians are a lot like people in Wisconsin: they understand that future economic growth and job creation cannot be anchored on excessive government payouts obtained by public employee unions through politically-manipulated collective bargaining.

Also in the City of San Diego, Scott Sherman won a city council seat. He supports economic freedom and fiscal responsibility. Ray Ellis – also an advocate of economic freedom – will face Sherri Lightner in November for another city council seat.


Even in much more liberal Northern California, there was good news beyond the win for public employee pension reform in the City of San Jose.

In Placer County, construction unions flushed $30,000 down the toilet in funding 92% of the campaign of Pam Tobin, who challenged incumbent Kirk Uhler for a seat on the Placer County Board of Supervisors but lost, 60% to 40%. I was at the Uhler election night victory party in Granite Bay and was pleased to see the result. See my exclusive investigative report revealing and analyzing the union sources of Tobin’s campaign contributions here.

But Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery won re-election. She voted in 2010 against the currently-in-effect Fair and Open Competition policy banning Project Labor Agreements on county construction projects.

Elsewhere in Placer County, 65% voters in the City of Auburn rejected Measure A, a proposed charter that would have given authority to the city to establish its own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wages) on city projects.

In an earlier post I compared the City of Auburn’s charter campaign to the charter campaign of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes (in Los Angeles County) in 2011. In both cases, large and politically sophisticated construction unions used their well-funded labor-management cooperation committees, political action committees, and general budgets to steamroll over a home-grown local grassroots movement.

ADVICE to CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS and CITY STAFF seeking a CHARTER: contact Labor Issues Solutions, LLC for a free consultation and some honest assessments of what it takes to win against aggressive self-interested union opposition. You’re fighting a political machine, as city council members and community activists have recently learned through experience in Rancho Palos Verdes, Auburn, Redding, Paradise, South Lake Tahoe, Folsom, and Elk Grove. You CAN win like Oceanside did in 2010 and El Cajon just did on June 5, 2012 (see below).

There was a gratifying victory in Contra Costa County, where Danville Mayor Candace Andersen won 60% of the vote and easily defeated Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board member Tomi Van De Brooke for the open seat held by the late Supervisor Gayle Uilkema. Van De Brooke only received 28% despite receiving the “benefit” of nasty union-funded mailers about abortion sent to district voters. This is yet another case in which Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in California made a politician accountable to the voters for supporting costly union-backed policies in order to lock up union campaign support. Regrettably, the Project Labor Agreement imposed by Van De Brooke in December 2011 for community college district construction projects will remain as a legacy of this election.

In Sonoma County, there will be a clash between two ideologically opposite members of the Santa Rosa City Council for an open seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. The candidate for economic freedom, John Sawyer, will face off against pro-union candidate Susan Gorin.

In Solano County, pro-union challenger Skip Thomson defeated Mike Reagan, the one solid advocate for economic freedom on the Solano County Board of Supervisors. Reagan barely held onto the seat against Thomson four years ago. The Project Labor Agreement policy for Solano County construction projects will continue, now without an opposing view on the board.

In Yolo County, incumbent Duane Chamberlain survived a challenge from union-backed Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel for a seat on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.

Voters rejected Measure J, a $59.5 million school bond measure to modernize a high school in the City of Antioch. That was a whopping target for a Project Labor Agreement, as shown by the construction union funding of the campaign to support Measure J.

Disappointing results were seen in the elections for Sacramento City Council, where candidates backed by business groups lost, as usual. The Sacramento City Council continues to be dominated by politicians lukewarm toward economic growth. I believe this results in part from voter distrust of candidates funded by housing tract developers, and NOT because voters love unions. In fact, I think union connections would be a liability for incumbents if campaigns chose to focus on them aggressively.


Voters in the City of Yreka (near the Oregon border on I-5) voted 720-650 to approve possession of up to six backyard hens (no roosters) in residential areas of the city. As Yreka City Councilman Bryan Foster said to KDRV News Channel 12 (ABC) in Medford, Oregon: “The chicken issue, for me, it centers around private property rights and really, government interference.” Isn’t it refreshing to hear that kind of statement from a California elected official, even when it’s broadcast from an Oregon TV station? See my earlier post on this hotly-contested issue here.

Why Have Construction Unions Funded 92 Percent of the Campaign of Placer County Supervisor Candidate Pam Tobin? The Dayton Public Policy Institute Knows!

People are confused in Placer County, California, which stretches from affluent northeastern Sacramento suburbs to North Lake Tahoe and has a population of 350,000.

Why have construction unions and their affiliates contributed $30,350 to a candidate (Pam Tobin) who is challenging an incumbent county supervisor, Kirk Uhler? Construction-related union entities have directly funded a whopping 92% of Tobin’s campaign! This is stunning!

Even a Teamsters union federally-registered PAC based in Washington, D.C. contributed $1500. Yes, the nation’s capital turns its eyes to the Board of Supervisors in Placer County, California.

The 4th district of the Placer County Board of Supervisors contains the wealthy Republican-leaning Sacramento suburbs of Granite Bay and Roseville. It’s not a friendly area for the union political agenda; in fact, many residents of this district might even be categorized by the head of the Sacramento-based Ironworkers Union Local No. 118 as the “septic sewage of affluence,” as he describes certain rich Americans in the Sacramento Labor Bulletin.

Incumbent Supervisor Kirk Uhler believes the public employee unions have targeted him. (See Challengers Emerging in Placer County Supervisor Races – Sacramento Bee – February 1, 2012 and Challenger Goes after Placer Supervisor for District 4 Seat – Sacramento Bee – April 27, 2012.) But Tobin has only received a $250 contribution from one purely public employee union to date. The Sacramento Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO made direct contributions and sent a rather tame independent expenditure mailer to voters, but keep in mind that organization encompasses building trades unions as well as public employee unions.

As far as I can tell, not one newspaper article or blog post has identified what I believe to be the true reason for this massive construction union expenditure, although there is plenty of speculation. Let the speculation end: I’ll reveal the scheme of the construction unions.

First, let’s confirm that Tobin’s campaign is almost entirely funded by construction unions. See this link for the complete record of union contributions to Pam Tobin: Tobin 92% Union. (I circled the union contributions in red.) Also, see my compilation (below) of union contributions to Pam Tobin, in chart form. These records are obtained from Pam Tobin’s three electronically filed campaign reports: December 31, 2011, March 17, 2012, and May 19, 2012.

Tobin’s campaign web site doesn’t betray the reason for her extensive construction union support. She claims to be running on rather mundane issues that have nothing to do with construction: see http://www.pamtobin4supervisor.com/issues.html. So what’s the answer?

Almost certainly the silent #1 issue in the race for Placer County Board of Supervisors, 4th District is Project Labor Agreements, also known as PLAs.

Through the California State Legislature, with the support of Governor Jerry Brown, and at local governments throughout the state, the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California is trying to nullify or repeal every charter provision, ordinance, and resolution that prohibits a government entity from requiring contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions as a condition of working on taxpayer-funded construction.

On a 3-2 vote on August 24, 2010, the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution adding a provision to its contracting policies that states “the County shall not require a contractor on a County public project to execute or otherwise become a party to a project labor agreement as a condition of bidding, negotiating, award, or performance of the public project.” The resolution cited three reasons to adopt the policy: “to promote competition in contracting, to reduce the risk of cost increases in public works projects in Placer County, and to protect the interests of the taxpayers of Placer County.”

Union representatives showed up in force to oppose the resolution, thus demonstrating to county taxpayers that the policy was relevant and needed. The executive director of the Roseville Chamber of Commerce spoke in support of the resolution as well as a representative of the Golden Gate Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. Approval was along party lines, with the three Republicans (Rocky Rockholm, Kirk Uhler, and Robert Weygandt) voting for guaranteed fair and open bid competition, while Democrat Jennifer Montgomery and Decline-to-State Jim Holmes voted against it. Since that time, Jack Duran defeated Rocky Rockholm, but apparently Supervisor Duran has no immediate interest in advancing the construction union agenda.

In the past several years, Placer County has been vexed by “greenmail,” in which construction unions hire a law firm to exploit the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and block the permitting of proposed developments. When the developers agree to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the construction unions, the environmental objections fade away and the project moves forward.

The voters need to know why construction unions are so interested in this particular race. An enterprising reporter – or Supervisor Uhler himself – needs to put candidate Pam Tobin on the spot and ask her if she committed during her union interviews or in her union candidate questionnaires to repeal the county resolution banning Project Labor Agreements.

Pam Tobin’s Union Contributions (Almost All from Construction Unions)

Union Amount Date
Plumbers and Pipefitters Local No. 447


Sacramento Central Labor Council AFL-CIO


VOICE – Identity in report is elusive, but Sacramento Bee reports it’s a union entity. A search of the California Secretary of State’s list of campaign contributors shows the only active and related entity with VOICE in its name is “Members’ Voice of the State Building And Construction Trades Council of California.”


California-Nevada Conference of Operating Engineers


Plumbers and Pipefitters Local No. 447


Laborers Local No. 185


DRIVE Committee (Teamsters federal PAC out of Washington, DC)


International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT)


Operating Engineers Local No. 3


International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 340


Northern California Regional Council of Carpenters


Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 162


Cement Masons Local No. 400


American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local No. 146


Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local No. 3


Total from All Unions $30,600.00  
Total from Construction Unions $30,350.00
Total Raised by Pam Tobin for Her Campaign for Placer County Supervisor $32,875.60

Once again, why have construction unions funded 92% of Pam Tobin’s Campaign for Placer County Supervisor? They want to repeal the county’s Fair and Open Competition resolution and open the floodgates to Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on taxpayer-funded county construction. Notice that Tobin refers to upcoming construction for the Middle Fork Project and a new water treatment plant in this article in the May 2012 union newspaper Sacramento Labor Bulletin: Pam Tobin Central Labor Council Endorsement. Project Labor Agreements appear to be the silent #1 issue in this campaign for Placer County Board of Supervisors.