Tag Archive for www.TheTruthaboutPLAs.com

Request for Proposal for Prime Contractor for New Sacramento Kings Arena Refers to Project Labor Agreement with Construction Unions

As reported in the article Next Step for Kings: Bids for Professional Services in the July 2, 2013 Sacramento Business Journal, the new owners of the Sacramento Kings professional basketball team are moving forward with plans to build a new downtown arena:

City of Sacramento officials expect Sacramento Basketball Holdings LLC to select by August an architect and perhaps a general contractor or construction manager for early design work for the arena, which could break ground as soon as a year from now. Assistant city manager John Dangberg said the ownership’s arena design development will happen concurrently with gaining the necessary entitlements from the city, including development of an environmental impact report … construction could start next summer with the goal of being completed before October 2016, when Kings would open their first NBA season in a new site. Dangberg said a more detailed construction plan schedule will be developed alongside the EIR process.

Roebbelen Contracting Inc., a Sacramento firm, has announced it would be one of the bidders for the role, in partnership with PCL Construction, which built Los Angeles’ Staples Center, home to the Lakers and Clippers.

Despite the claim in this article that “the game is afoot for locals hoping for a piece of the most high-profile project in recent city history,” some local contractors won’t be inclined to participate because team owners feel politically compelled to impose a union Project Labor Agreement on construction companies working on the project.

The “Request For Proposal For Lead Contractor” issued on June 21, 2013 by Sacramento Kings Basketball Holdings informs prospective respondents that “The Contractor shall also meet and negotiate with local labor regarding a possible Project Labor Agreement for the ESC,” that is, the “entertainment and sports center.” In addition, respondents are asked to “Please describe your experience, if any, with labor on construction projects in northern California including, without limitation, negotiations with labor and the results, the size of the project, and project labor agreements.”

As far back as October 2003, Sacramento construction trade union officials were reportedly alluding to their desire for a Project Labor Agreement on a possible new Kings basketball arena. See my articles about the history of the Project Labor Agreement threat on this project:

The Union Quest for a Project Labor Agreement on a New Sacramento Kings Basketball Arena: Part One – 2006www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – January 21, 2013

Out of Nowhere: Project Labor Agreement and Community Benefit Agreement Tacked on End of Motion for New Sacramento Kings Basketball Arena – www.TheTruthaboutPLAs.com – March 9, 2012

Fresno Bee Reporter Finds Out that All Five Prequalified Prime Contractors for First Segment of California High-Speed Rail Signed Project Labor Agreements with Unions

UPDATE: My article about contractors signing a Project Labor Agreement with unions for the first segment of the California High-Speed was posted on the web site www.theTruthaboutPLAs.com on December 16, 2012: see Done Deal: Unions Will Control Construction on California High-Speed Rail with Project Labor Agreements.

The revised version today (December 7, 2012) of a Fresno Bee article (‘Needy’ Workers Will Get Jobs on High-Speed Rail) first posted yesterday about the “Community Benefits” policy approved by the California High-Speed Rail Authority contains a huge revelation:

Five teams of contractors have been invited to bid on the first major contract for a stretch of the rail route between Madera and Fresno. How the new policy will translate into the contract has yet to be determined, said Jeffrey Morales, the authority’s CEO. Potentially complicating the issue is that each of the five would-be prime contracting teams has already signed project labor agreements with labor unions. Morales said the existence of project labor agreements between the contractors and labor unions is independent of any action the agency takes.

I posted a comment under the article:

There is a huge revelation in this article (revised from the version posted yesterday). All five prequalified bidders have negotiated and signed Project Labor Agreements with construction unions. How did that happen? Why? Was there some kind of deal involving the High-Speed Rail Authority? Are the five agreements all the same? What do these union agreements contain? Will the public ever get the chance to see these agreements, which give unions a monopoly on the work?

At an estimated cost cited between $68 billion and $100 billion, this High-Speed Rail is the most expensive public works mega-project in history, dwarfing the cost of Boston’s “Big Dig” (the Central Artery/Tunnel project). And unions have obtained a monopoly on the construction.

See my past writing (with hyperlinks to source documents) on the Project Labor Agreement threat for the construction of the California High-Speed Rail project:

  1. Unions Creep Closer to Monopolizing California High-Speed Rail Constructionwww.UnionWatch.org – December 6, 2012
  2. The Plot Develops to Require Contractors to Sign a Project Labor Agreement with Unions to Build California’s High Speed Rail – Dayton Public Policy Institute blog – December 6, 2012
  3. Barreling Down the Tracks: Project Labor Agreement for California’s High-Speed Rail – the Biggest, Costliest Union Construction Monopoly in History – Dayton Public Policy Institute blog – July 6, 2012
  4. California’s Top Construction Union Officials Love the State’s $100 Billion High-Speed Rail Projectwww.TheTruthaboutPLAs.com – January 12, 2011

Brazen! Union Officials and Their Environmental Lawyers at Port Commissioners’ Meeting Threaten to Stop San Diego Convention Center Expansion Using California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

The September 19, 2012 meeting of the United Port of San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners was packed with the San Diego region’s civic leadership, including the Mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders. They were at the meeting to see and celebrate the Port taking the next steps in approving the proposed $520 million San Diego Convention Center expansion, as well as an expansion of the adjacent Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. Representatives were there from numerous major business groups in the region, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

United Port of San Diego Headquarters Building on Pacific Highway

United Port of San Diego Headquarters Building, where union officials and their lawyer brazenly abused CEQA on September 19, 2012 in front of San Diego’s civic leadership.

Also there was Kevin Dayton, President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC. No one there knew or cared, and I finally found a seat in the back corner. I suspected that the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo was going to pull a stunt at the meeting on behalf of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30. Knowing their modus operendi, I figured a lawyer was going to make a huge last-minute document dump at the meeting under the authority of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). I was right!

The party-poopers promptly rained on the parade when the commissioners opened the agenda item to public comment. An official of the UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30 led off the attack by declaring that the 1400-page final Environmental Impact Report required under CEQA was deficient and needed to be withdrawn for revisions. Then someone from the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo submitted to the commissioners a 42 page letter (with 197 footnotes) on behalf of the phony union front group called “The San Diego Coalition for A Better Convention Center” with 250 pages of referenced exhibits. She was given extra time to speak because Tom Lemmon – head of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council – submitted a speaker card and then transferred his speaking time to her.

CEQA Objections to San Diego Convention Center Expansion

The cover page of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) “document dump” of the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo on behalf of unions against the Environmental Impact Report for the San Diego Convention Center expansion project.

Never to be left out of a militant union action in San Diego, Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego County Central Labor Council, rushed into the meeting late to announce there were problems with the Environmental Impact Report for the convention center. She proposed that the Port Commissioners approve a “tolling agreement” that would extend the statute of limitations for the unions to file a lawsuit. This would give unions more time to squeeze their demands out of the developers and the convention center’s public and private partners.

A representative of the leftist San Diego-based Center for Policy Initiatives attended the meeting but did not speak. This group has not been involved in CEQA issues, but it is very involved in labor issues.

I also spoke, as a representative of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC. I noted there was an underlying story and then revealed the whole scheme. Of course, most people in the room knew about it already but do not want to acknowledge it in public.

After these antics, the Port Commissioners recessed the meeting for about 20 minutes so Port staff could scan the document dump by Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo and make a preliminary determination of whether or not the unions introduced new and valid CEQA objections to the proposed convention center and hotel expansion. If the comments were serious threats, the Port Commissioners would need to table the approval of the Environmental Impact Report.

Staff ultimately identified four potential areas vulnerable to lawsuits or appeals, but also indicated how the issues would be addressed. In the end, the Port Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Environmental Impact Report, while noting that they expected litigation and appeals unless relevant parties were able to make a deal with the unions.

What is the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council seeking with its CEQA objections? As I documented in my March 11, 2011 www.thetruthaboutPLAs.com article entitled It’s Out in the Open: Project Labor Agreement a Costly Possibility for San Diego Convention Center Expansion, construction union officials want a requirement for construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of working on the projects. Presumably UNITE HERE wants some sort of neutrality agreement for union organizing.

It’s nothing new in California and nothing new in San Diego. It’s “greenmail.”


Convention Center Project Takes a Major Step Forward – San Diego Union-Tribune – September 20, 2012

Port Approves Environmental Report For Convention Center Expansion – KPBS – September 19, 2012

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Abandons Project Labor Agreement Policy; Instead Directs Staff to Negotiate Project Labor Agreement for Sonoma County Airport Expansion

UPDATE: This article was reprinted in www.theTruthaboutPLAs.com on September 21, 2012 as Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Abandons Project Labor Agreement Policy; Instead Directs Staff to Negotiate Project Labor Agreement for Sonoma County Airport Expansion.

Opponents of a proposed Project Labor Agreement policy for Sonoma County rally on September 18, 2012.

Opponents of a proposed Project Labor Agreement policy for Sonoma County rally on September 18, 2012. The signs say “WHY? WHY are you trying to solve a problem that your staff says doesn’t exist?”

Without a vote, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors directed county staff on September 18, 2012 to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions and with the input of contractors for the planned $54 million expansion of the runways at the Charles M. Schultz Sonoma County Airport. Supervisors listed numerous items to be addressed in the negotiations and asked staff to present an agreement to the board for consideration within two months.The original agenda item was to approve a policy to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of winning Sonoma County contracts for projects of $25 million or more.

After almost five hours of staff presentations, public comment, and board deliberations, the county board chairwoman Shirlee Zane (the primary advocate for the Project Labor Agreement) concluded that other board members had too many concerns about the content and meaning of the policy to reach a consensus. Supervisors Valerie Brown, David Rabbitt, and Efren Carrillo all had multiple concerns about how the policy would be implemented. Supervisor Mike McGuire stated his support for a policy with a threshold not less than $25 million, but didn’t show much interest in joining Supervisor Zane to push the proposed policy.

Government meetings to deliberate proposed Project Labor Agreements have taken an increasing amount of time over the years as supporters and opponents have become more sophisticated in their arguments and political strategies. This deliberation was the longest I’ve experienced in 15 years of fighting Project Labor Agreements in California, even exceeding the length of the March 2010 deliberation of the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees for its Project Labor Agreement.

At this meeting, 23 people spoke in support of the union policy and 29 people spoke against the union policy. Besides construction trade union officials and apprentices, supporters of the Project Labor Agreement included San Rafael City Council member (and former College of Marin Board of Trustees member) Greg Brockbank, Santa Rosa School Board member Laura Gonzalez (read her thank you note to Supervisor Zane), and Marty Bennett, a professor at Santa Rosa Junior College. Lisa Maldonado – executive director of the North Bay Labor Council – tried to frame the debate as class warfare between “wealthy families” and “workers who pay most of the taxes” and accused opponents of the Project Labor Agreement of exploiting illegal immigrants. She also Tweeted these comments:

Lisa Maldonado @LaMujerObrera

  • Wont Get Fooled Again! Special Shout Out to Supervisor Carrillo!: http://youtu.be/Rp6-wG5LLqE 
  • Spanks to Supervisors Brown, Rabbit & Carrillo for turning your backs on working families and supporting those who exploit workers!
  • Thanks to Supervisors McGuire & Zane for their tireless support of working families and local hire!
  • Supervisor Rabbit continues to back up North Bay Builders exchange anti worker supporters who got him elected. #scabsupervisor!
  • Why are the Associated Builders threatening our Board of Supervisors if they don’t vote their way? Talk about THUGS! pic.twitter.com/h3dZnhGI
  • Press Democrat’s new low: helping Scab Builders (aka their advertisers) threaten our Supervisors to Vote their way! (& they call us THUGS!?)
  • Scab builders can afford expensive advertising in the Press Democrat because they cheat & exploit workers #scablies pic.twitter.com/lHs0oSBM
  • Check out the ad that scabbuilders placed in the PD today. It’s expensive but it comes with an editorial of UR choice pic.twitter.com/jIKvTk02
  • Well now we know why the press Democrat did editorial on PLA while the middle east is on fire! I guess it really PAYS to advertise #noethics

And subsequently from the top labor official in the North Bay:

  • I thought@EfrenCarrillo’s public brawling was embarrassing. Then I saw his behavior in betraying working families & pandering to Keith Woods
  • Well Money still talks in Sonoma County. The interests of tChamber, theNCBE & the uber rich Soiland family are first with Rabbit, Carrillo !
  • @EfrenCarrillo: re: ur betrayal of workers last night-Now We know how the guy you knocked out in a bar feels. did u hit him from behind too?
  • It’s a sad thing when crazy Tea Partiers are your only defenders! #Carrillodoesntfightfair
  • Last night we saw Big Business owns Sonoma BOS. Xcept for McGuire & Zane We need Susan Gorin, NOT John Sawyer another tool of Asphalt Money!
  • @EfrenCarrillo Too bad there were no “rowdies” at the PLA vote, perhaps then you would have ‘defended’ working people?!
  • Dime Con Quien Andas y Te Dire’ Quien Eres! ( Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are) .#thingsmyabuelasaid #Efrenimies
  • Muchisimas Gracias to Supervisors McGuire & Zane for supporting PLA’s workers & apprentices & good middle class jobs!

Opposing the Project Labor Agreement policy as proposed were representatives of several construction trade associations (the North Coast Builders Exchange, the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Western Electrical Contractors Association), the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, and the Sonoma County Taxpayers Association. I also spoke as a follow up to my September 17, 2012 email to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors about the Project Labor Agreement policy.

Below is a compilation of news media coverage.


Supervisors Stick Up for the 85 Percent – North Bay Business Journal (editorial) – October 5, 2012

Supervisors Divided Over PLA Details: Staff to Answer Board Concerns in Two Months – North Bay Business Journal – September 24, 2012

Sonoma County Spurns Blanket Union Plan for Big Public Projects – Santa Rosa Press-Democrat – September 19, 2012

Sonoma County Supervisors Want More Study on Project Labor Agreements – North Bay Business Journal – September 19, 2012

Sonoma County Supervisors to Consider Project Labor Agreement: Strong Public Input Expected on Tuesday – North Bay Business Journal – September 17, 2012

County Fails to Make Case for Favoring Unions – Santa Rosa Press-Democrat (editorial) – September 16, 2012


PLA Proponents Must Prove Benefits – North Bay Business Journal – October 8, 2012 

September 18, 2012 Unions Rally to Support Project Labor Agreement Policy for Sonoma County

Unions rally to support a proposed Project Labor Agreement policy for Sonoma County on September 18, 2012. The portable electronic road sign in the background says “No PLA.”

Barreling Down the Tracks: Project Labor Agreement for California’s High-Speed Rail – the Biggest, Costliest Union Construction Monopoly in History

Background on Contracts for Construction of the First Section of the California High-Speed Rail, as Based on the Bill Approved by the State Senate Today (July 6, 2012)

This afternoon (July 6, 2012), the California State Senate barely passed a budget trailer bill (Senate Bill 1029) that authorizes $5.85 billion (actually, $5,849,752,000.00) to acquire land and build the “initial operating segment” of the California High-Speed Rail. According to the bill, the project will be reviewed and overseen by the (obscure) State Public Works Board.

In December 2012, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will award several contracts for this first segment through an alternative bidding procedure called design-build. Five entities that are conglomerates of major engineering and heavy construction infrastructure corporations have qualified to bid under this procedure. (This is the Big Time, although there is supposed to be a goal to have 30 percent of the work go to small businesses.)

Instead of awarding contracts to design the project and then awarding contracts to the lowest responsible bidder to build it, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is authorized to award contracts to qualified corporate entities that combine project design AND construction work. The California High-Speed Rail Authority will select the design-build entities using a somewhat subjective list of “best value criteria” that could result in design-build entities winning contracts without being the lowest price. The State Public Works Board and the California Department of Finance will approve the criteria to aware the design-build contract.

As directed by Assembly Bill 1029, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is now required to issue some reports related to construction:

1. By October 1, 2012, prior to awarding a contract to start construction of the first segment of the California High-Speed Rail, and prior to advertising additional contracts to be awarded in September 2013 and October 2013, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will provide a comprehensive staff management report that includes a list of “proposed steps and procedures that will be employed to ensure adequate oversight and management of contractors involved in the construction contracts funded in this act.” That same report will list “procedures to detect and prevent contract splitting.” The California High-Speed Rail Authority will also need to submit a report with the same content requirements before additional contracts are awarded in March 2017.

3. On or before March 1 and November 15 of each year, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will provide a Project Update Report approved by the Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing to the budget committees and the appropriate policy committees of the Assembly and Senate on the development and implementation of the California High-Speed Rail.

4. On or before June 30, 2013, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will prepare and submit a report approved by the Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing that provides an analysis of the net impact of the California High-Speed Rail program on the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. The report shall be submitted to the Assembly and Senate budget committees and transportation committees.

My observations about these provisions in Senate Bill 1029:

1. While it’s unclear how it will be implemented, it’s quite likely there will be a requirement for the design-build entities and their subcontractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions for some or all of the construction work. I provided extensive background information about this Project Labor Agreement threat in my highly-read January 12, 2012 article in www.TheTruthaboutPLAs.com entitled California’s Top Construction Union Officials Love the State’s $100 Billion High-Speed Rail Project.

The eight-member Board of Directors of the California High-Speed Rail Authority includes Bob Balgenorth, head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, and Russ Burns, head of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local No. 3. The Senate Rules Committee appointed Balgenorth, and former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass appointed Burns.

Balgenorth has spoken repeatedly and publicly in support of the California High-Speed Rail even as just about everyone with common sense has mocked the costly, beleaguered project. Surely someone will reward Balgenorth and Burns for their efforts with a requirement for contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions to work on construction of the California High-Speed Rail. Of particular benefit to the unions, a Project Labor Agreement will kill off what would have been fierce competition from non-union contractors to perform electrical work and build the stations.

2. According to its web site, the State Public Works Board (SPWB) “was created by the Legislature to oversee the fiscal matters associated with construction of projects for state agencies, and to select and acquire real property for state facilities and programs. The SPWB is also the issuer of lease-revenue bonds, which is a form of long term financing that is used to pay for capital projects.” Its five members are officials from the Department of Finance, the Department of General Services, the Department of Transportation, the State Treasurer’s Office, and the State Controller’s Office. Amazingly, there isn’t a representative of organized labor sitting in on this board.

3. According to the May 12, 2012 minutes of the State Public Works Board, the High Speed Rail Authority “anticipates acquiring 1,100 properties from Madera County to Bakersfield County over the next two years as part of the high speed train system.” Perhaps this explains why the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust and its precedessor (the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California Labor-Management Cooperation Trust) made two huge campaign contributions ($1,000,000 and $250,000) to committees opposing statewide ballot measures to restrict government power to acquire property through eminent domain. (I’ll write more about this issue in a later post – it deserves its own analysis.)

4. It would seem that the report requirement in Senate Bill 1029 to explain oversight and management of the contractors on the California High-Speed Rail project would be fulfilled with implementation of the labor compliance requirements now outlined in California Labor Code Section 1771. This is language enacted in 2011 through union-backed Assembly Bill 436, a bill that also repealed language of California Labor Code 1771.9, which was enacted in 2003 by union-backed Assembly Bill 1506. That original language applied specifically to contractor labor law compliance for the California High-Speed Rail project. Note that the new 2011 law (Assembly Bill 436) allows a government entity to exempt itself from labor compliance requirements if “the awarding body has entered into a collective bargaining agreement that binds all of the contractors performing work on the project and that includes a mechanism for resolving disputes about the payment of wages.” (This is the definition of a Project Labor Agreement.)

5. What is “contract splitting,” and why does Senate Bill 1029 require the California High-Speed Rail Authority to report on its efforts to prevent it? These are interesting questions. Obviously someone somewhere is worried about something!

California Public Contract Code Section 20915 states that “It shall be unlawful to employ any means to evade the provisions of this article requiring contracts to be awarded after advertising and competitive bidding, including the splitting of projects into smaller work orders, the amendment of existing contracts, or the approval of a subcontract or subcontracts let under existing contracts. Every person who willfully violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

6. Senate Bill 1029 requires the California High-Speed Rail Authority to provide “an analysis of the net impact of the high-speed rail program on the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.” Realize that the construction of the California High-Speed Rail will result in significant greenhouse gas emissions from the diesel equipment used to build it. The Teamsters union was so “concerned” about greenhouse gas emissions in the Central Valley area where the first segment will be built that it filed a lawsuit in 2011 challenging the construction of a distribution facility in Visalia (where truck drivers would not necessarily be unionized).

In addition, the draft Environmental Impact Report for this project indicates that the California High-Speed Rail program may use diesel-powered switch locomotives associated with maintenance-of-way activities. See California High-Speed Train Project EIR/EIS – Fresno to Bakersfield Section – 3.3 Air Quality and Global Climate Change. (How could this be? I thought this High-Speed Rail was going to save the planet!)

The home page for California High-Speed Rail declares that “California Is Thinking Big Again.” I’ve only scratched the surface of a few of many issues involving this project, and I’m thinking California Is in Big Trouble if this project continues.