Tag Archive for www.PublicCEO.com

www.PublicCEO.com Exposes Empty Promises of Helmets to Hardhats Program Under Project Labor Agreement in Northern California

The union-affiliated Helmets to Hardhats program meant to give returning veterans an entry into the construction trades sounds like a worthy project. But it’s hard not to be cynical about its purpose in practice: to give politicians cover when voting to require contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions to work on taxpayer-funded construction.

Construction trade unions routinely claim that local governments can enhance the employment of military veterans by requiring their construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions that includes a Helmets to Hardhats provision. Is this claim valid? Do unions ever meet their contractual obligations under this provision?

On October 24, 2012, www.PublicCEO.com had the courage to expose the empty promises from construction union lobbyists about the unions’ Helmets to Hardhats program in the context of Project Labor Agreements. See Lodi Energy Center Helmets-To-Hardhats Program Falls Flat.

The web site of www.PublicCEO.com states that it “seeks to provide the tools for local government employees to succeed – including information on the best practices around the state and inventive governance procedures and trends.” Helmets to Hardhats is clearly NOT a best practice justifying a Project Labor Agreement.

Cited by www.PublicCEO.com was the performance of the Helmets to Hardhats program associated with the Project Labor Agreement signed by the Northern California Power Agency (a conglomerate of publicly-owned utilities) for construction of the Lodi Energy Center. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Included in the project labor agreement adopted at the outset of the project was a helmets-to-hardhats program. As outlined in section 15.1 of the project labor agreement, the Northern California Power Agency and its employers would use a center to recruit, evaluate, train, and employ veterans of the military to work on the project.

That provision and its results were omitted from announcements, press releases, and materials relating to the project. In a series of emails reviewed by PublicCEO, those in charge of the project were unable to verify a single helmet-to-hardhat hire.

It’s hard not to be cyncial when reading the documentation from the Northern California Power Agency showing their abandoned attempt to brag in a press release about the performance of the Helmets to Hardhats program on the Lodi Energy Center:

Lodi Energy Center Project Labor Agreement – Helmets to Hardhats TOTAL Failure

But sometimes the truth doesn’t matter. The City of Lodi continued to tout Helmets to Hardhats (with taxpayer funded publications mailed to utility customers!) as a success even after the Northern California Power Agency learned in 2011 that the program was a total failure:

Lodi Utility Mail Piece Gives Ratepayers False Information about Helmets to Hardhats Program in Project Labor Agreement for Lodi Energy Center – Summer 2012

I first saw Helmets to Hardhats in 2005 in a proposed Project Labor Agreement for a wastewater treatment plant at the San Diego County Water Authority. It was included in a revised Project Labor Agreement proposed (and ultimately implemented) in 2007 for Solano County and the Project Labor Agreement proposed (and ultimately implemented) in 2008 for the College of Marin. Now it is commonly referenced in Project Labor Agreements and routinely praised by union lobbyists and their political sycophants.

What is Helmets to Hardhats?

According to the “Frequently Asked Questions” of the web site for Helmets to Hardhats, the program is “dedicated to helping National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military members connect to quality career and training opportunities in one of America’s most challenging and rewarding industries – the construction industry.”

The web site notes that Helmets to Hardhats is NOT a training program; in fact, it is vague about what Helmets to Hardhats actually does:

Most experienced job seekers understand that utilizing personal networks (networking) is a much more effective way of securing a quality career than simply looking online or going through newspaper ads. Although H2H is a Web-based program that requires online registration and provides career postings, what sets it apart from other initiatives is that H2H employees, and the dedicated volunteers that work with us, take an active role in connecting veterans to outstanding career and training opportunities. At the end of the day, having an informed advocate on your side who knows where you need to go, who you need to talk and can help facilitate the hiring process makes all the difference in the world to serious job seekers interested in securing a rewarding career in construction.

It also says the following:

H2H makes the connection between the career providers and the candidates that apply for their career opportunities. Some of the listings on the H2H Web site are for apprenticeship training opportunities and others are for careers with public and private employers.

Presumably staff of the Helmets to Hardhats program helps the on-line applicant get referred to the local union of a construction trade. That worker may be “indentured” into the applicable union apprenticeship program, pay initiation fees and some dues, and then begin classroom training while getting dispatched to job sites for on-the-job training.

Essentially, the program is a recruitment operation for construction trade unions, in which the initiative for employment rests with the individual seeking work.

Additionally, the web site indicates that the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment (CMRAVE) administers the Helmets to Hardhats program. It is a “non-profit Section 501(c)(3) joint labor-management committee established under Section 302(c)(9) of the Labor Management Relations Act. Funding and support come from private foundations, employers, employer associations and unions.”

Here are the Form 990s submitted by the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment to the IRS for 2008, 2009, and 2010:

Helmets to Hardhats 2010 Form 990

Helmets to Hardhats 2009 Form 990

Helmets to Hardhats 2008 Form 990

Apparently this organization is getting significant government grants. In addition, Section 302(c)(9) of the Labor Management Relations Act allows employers and employer associations to make payments to a committee established under the Labor Management Cooperation Act of 1978. In other words, the operations of Helmets to Hardhats may also be funded in part through employer payments mandated in Master Labor Agreements (collective bargaining agreements) negotiated between an employer or group of employers and a union.


Here are links to primary source documentation about the Northern California Power Agency’s Project Labor Agreement for the Lodi Energy Center, featuring the failed Helmets to Hardhats provision:

1. Northern California Power Agency’s Project Labor Agreement for the Lodi Energy Center

2. Northern California Power Agency’s $90,000 Payoff to the California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust – Contract and Proof of Payment (For an idea of where this $90,000 went, see Where the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust Spends Its Money: Now We See How Unions Spread It.)

3. Let’s Tell the Public There’s Local Hiring: Someone Said Local Hiring Was Happening

4. They hate us! They really, really hate us!

5. Why did union officials speak in support of the Project Labor Agreement at the November 2, 2009 meeting of the Northern California Power Agency commissioners? The Northern California Power Agency management staff told them to show up!

PublicCEO.com Reports on New Third Edition: Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions?

Local government news site www.PublicCEO.com reports today (October 2, 2012) on the release of the third edition of the first and only guide to the status of government-mandated construction wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”) in California’s 121 charter cities.

The report is Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions? It is published by the California Construction Compliance Group.

As stated in the article “Charter City Report Updated,” www.PublicCEO.com covered the release of the original report in 2009 and the first update in 2011. In the three years since the first edition was published, www.PublicCEO.com has seen an explosion of proposals to California voters for city charters.

Voters in Costa Mesa, Escondido, and Grover Beach will consider charters on November 6, 2012. Links to the proposed charters are here:

I’m cited in the www.PublicCEO.com article:

Kevin Dayton, President and CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, authored the introduction to the Charter City Report, and made the case for cost savings through charters.

“One way (to save city resources) is to enact policies that allow wage rates for city construction contracts to more accurately reflect economic conditions in the local market region.”

The report was designed to not only educate local officials about charters and cost savings, but Dayton also presents it as a tool to help establish a charter or amend one to include prevailing-wage exemptions.

“This third edition of the guide to the status of government-mandated construction wage rates in California’s charter cities provides all the information necessary for charter cities considering exercising their constitutionally-guaranteed right to determine the government-mandated wage rate policies in their own municipal construction contracts.”

The article also quotes Costa Mesa City Councilman Jim Righeimer talking about cost savings that would result if voters in the City of Costa Mesa approve a proposed charter through Measure V in the November 6, 2012 election. Righeimer wants the City of Costa Mesa to establish its own government-mandated construction wage rate policy for purely municipal projects under the authority of its proposed charter:

Those kinds of savings, and many of the other freedoms afforded to cities, have three cities looking to charter in November. One of the highest profile cases comes from Costa Mesa, where the City Council has been pursuing a charter for the better part of a year.

For Costa Mesa, it’s about controlling local affairs and being able to leverage local solutions to local problems. The most obvious case, as Councilman Jim Righeimer told PublicCEO in the past, is outsourcing and contracting.

Pointing to the city’s jail services, Righeimer said that, “…savings alone on a $1.5 million cost could be $50k a month. That’s just one contract.”

But the city also included language exempting local projects from prevailing wage laws.

“Prevailing wage is clear as day,” said Righeimer. “We want to be able to negotiate with market rate wages like Newport and Huntington. We don’t want to have to have a union wage.”

Here are links to two current examples of charters recently approved by voters:

Also, I have begun a project to create from scratch a new model charter for California cities. See link below; I’ll keep you informed:

Where the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust Spends Its Money: Now We See How Unions Spread It

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust is an arcane entity authorized by the obscure Labor-Management Cooperation Act of 1978, a law signed by President Jimmy Carter and implemented by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. There are no federal or state regulations specifically addressed toward these trusts, and these trusts do not have any reporting requirements to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Since its founding in 2006, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust has collected $5,110,095 in receipts, consisting of $2.6 million in seed money from another trust, about $1.7 million in “membership dues” (paid by power plant owners and contractors as a condition of Project Labor Agreements extracted by California Unions for Reliable Energy), and $450,000 in net investment returns. A chart of the organization’s finances is at the end of this post.

Where does the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust send its millions of dollars? I attempted to find out using the organization’s IRS Form 990s (2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008), state and local campaign finance reports, and other sources. See the list below.

1.  $1,095,000 – Taxpayers to Preserve Community Jobs, No on Measure A, sponsored by labor and management organizations (June 5, 2012 election in City of San Diego)

As of May 25, 2012, the California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust has contributed $1,095,000 to the campaign committee opposing Proposition A, a “Fair and Open Competition” measure on the June 5, 2012 ballot in the City of San Diego that would prohibit the city from requiring construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions as a condition of working on a taxpayer-funded project. The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust has provided 92% of all receipts for this campaign committee.

2.  $770,000 – UCLA Labor Center (aka UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education), part of the University of California Miguel Contreras Labor Program

The California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust has contributed a cumulative total of $770,000 to the UCLA Labor Center, primarily or exclusively for the establishment and operation of the UCLA Labor Center’s California Construction Academy, a propaganda operation that issues biased studies and bogus reports about construction labor issues using the UCLA name and affiliation.

The UCLA Office of Research Administration’s Office of Contract and Grant Administration received $250,000 in 2010-11, $250,000 in 2009-10, and $150,000 in 2008-09 from the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust. In 2007-08, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust contributed $120,000 for a “Workforce Development Leadership Academy Grant” sent to PO Box 951478 in Los Angeles, zip code 90095. (This is the address for the UCLA Labor Center.)

There seems to be confusion at the UCLA Labor Center about how much the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust has contributed to the UCLA Labor Center’s California Construction Academy. The 2010-11 annual report for the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education recognizes a grant of $450,000 from the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust, but a footnote added on April 4, 2012 indicates that the $450,000 is a cumulative amount for several years, with $180,000 as the actual amount for 2010-11. A press release from the UCLA Labor Center’s California Construction Academy tries to rebut a March 27, 2012 article from www.PublicCEO.com entitled Project Labor Agreement Debate is as Complex as It is Conflicted by stating that “according to the 2009 990 IRS Form, the UCLA Labor Center received $450,000. In fact, when clicking on the document, the amount the Labor Center received was $180,000.” (See this link: Correction on PublicCEO.com Post: CCA Advances Broad Construction Industry InterestsCalifornia Construction Academy: A Project of the UCLA Labor Center – March 27, 2012.) PublicCEO.com then countered with its own correction that stated “Editors note: Originally, the UCLA Annual Report showed a donation of $450,000, as was reported in this article. That was an incorrect total. The report, and this article, now accurately reflect a donation of $250,000. The $450,000 UCLA reported was a total of several years.”

This outfit of five professional staff promotes the political agenda of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, including government-mandated Project Labor Agreements and union control of so-called “green jobs” in the construction industry. The founding Academy Director and Senior Advisor is David Sickler, former Southern California Regional Director of the State Building and Construction Trades Council. The advisory board for the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education consists extensively of officials representing building trades unions. 

The UCLA Labor Center California Construction Academy was the organization used by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California to awkwardly and ineffectively challenge a study published in July 2011 by the National University System Institute for Policy Research in San Diego indicating that schools built in California with Project Labor Agreements cost 13%-15% more than schools built under fair and open competition. As part of this response, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust mailed a letter to local elected officials throughout the state attacking the study, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson mailed a letter to county superintendents and other educational officials attacking the study and providing the report from the UCLA Labor Center California Construction Academy.

3.  $250,000 – No 98/Yes 99 – A Committee of City and County Associations, Taxpayers and Environmental Groups, League of California Cities, Californians for Neighborhood Protection, Coalition of Conservationists

On April 7, 2008, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust contributed $250,000 to this No on 98/Yes on 99 campaign committee to oppose a statewide ballot proposition on the June 2008 ballot that would have restricted the ability of governments to gain possession of private property through eminent domain. The proposition failed – it only received 39% of the vote.

4.  $164,550 – “Other” (?)

The California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust reports that it spent $164,550 on “Other” fees for services (non-employees) in 2010-11. No additional information is given, and these expenditures are not classified as administrative, accounting, or legal services. I’m unable to determine where this money went, but I’m guessing it was used for something political that promoted unions and socked it to California taxpayers. Any ideas?

Contrary to some rumors, “Other” does not appear to be the union front group Citizens Against Identity Theft and Ballot Fraud, sponsored by labor organizations, which funded a radio advertising scam in the summer of 2011 meant to discourage Sacramento and San Diego voters from signing petitions to place Fair and Open Competition measures and a Paycheck Protection initiative on the 2012 ballots. See my post thoroughly outlining this scheme here.

5.  $100,000 – Apollo Alliance

The Apollo Alliance received $75,000 in 2010-11 and $25,000 in 2009-10 from the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust. This is currently a project of the Blue-Green Alliance, a coalition of environmental organizations and unions on a quest to stop global warming through government programs and a union workforce. President Obama’s former “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones was an influential founder and leader of this organization.

6.  $100,000 – Paxton-Patterson Construction Lab/Shop in San Joaquin County

In 2007-08, the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust contributed $100,000 to the San Joaquin Office of Education’s Career and Technical Education Program to establish a Paxton-Patterson Construction Lab/Shop.

The story behind this contribution is a mystery. Public records provided by the San Joaquin Office of Education in October 2011 did not include any documents dated earlier than September 17, 2007, when the former County Superintendent sent a letter to Bob Balgenorth (chairman of the the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, and chairman of California Unions for Reliable Energy – CURE) thanking him for the contribution. Surely there was something beforehand that led to a private contribution of $100,000 arriving at the office! Those kinds of checks usually don’t arrive in the mail without extensive solicitation.

In addition, the records did not indicate whether or not the Paxton-Patterson Construction Lab/Shop was ever built. Where are the two plaques celebrating Bob Balgenorth (as referenced in the letter)? When was the photo op? Where are the photos? How was the money spent?

In May 2007, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of working on the county’s New Administration Building. (See my post here providing some background on that vote.) Is there a connection between the two incidents? 

7.  $50,000 – Taxpayers to Preserve Community Jobs, No On Measure G, sponsored by labor and management organizations (June 8, 2010 election in City of Chula Vista)

The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust contributed $50,000 to the campaign committee opposing Proposition G, a “Fair and Open Competition” measure on the June 8, 2010 ballot in the City of Chula Vista that would prohibit the city from requiring construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions as a condition of working on a taxpayer-funded project. The funding was in vain, as 56.37% of Chula Vista voters approved the proposed ordinance.

The ordinance is now Chula Vista Municipal Code Section 02-59. At the behest of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, Governor Brown and the Democrat Party leadership in the California State Legislature tried to financially punish the citizens of Chula Vista for enacting this ballot measure with Senate Bill 922 (signed into law in 2011) and Senate Bill 829 (signed into law in 2012). See my blog posts about these laws here and here.

8.  $50,000 – Fresno Area Construction Team (F.A.C.T.)

A group called the Fresno Area Construction Team received $50,000 in 2010-11 from the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Trust to promote union contractors, union construction, and union apprenticeship programs in the Central Valley. It appears to have the involvement of the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local No. 162, Plumbers Union Local No. 246, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 100. This group advertises, spent $51,862 on “consulting,” and even spent $992 on “travel and entertainment for public officials,” according to this form.

Financials: California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust

Year Gross Receipts Contributions & Grants/Program Service Revenue/Other Investment Income Total Revenue
   $ 2,595,954 “Contribution from Prior Trust”
2007-08  $    593,950  $    283,670  $      97,150  $    380,820
2008-09  $    463,792  $    506,403  $    (42,611)  $    463,792
2009-10  $    522,782  $    274,437  $    200,583  $    475,020
2010-11  $    933,617  $    678,209  $    195,780  $    873,989
Total  $ 5,110,095  $ 1,742,719  $    450,902  $ 2,193,621

 

Year Grants & Similar Amounts Other Expenses Total Expenses
2007-08  $    220,000  $    290,859.  $    510,859
2008-09  $    150,000  $      21,143  $    171,143
2009-10  $    205,000  $      16,839  $    221,830
2010-11  $    375,000  $    234,319  $    609,319
Total  $    950,000  $    563,160  $ 1,513,151

 

Year Revenue Minus Expenses Total Assets
2007-08  $  (130,039)  $ 2,595,954
2008-09  $    292,649  $ 2,888,603
2009-10  $    253,181  $ 3,141,784
2010-11  $    264,670  $ 3,406,454