Questions that Port of Long Beach Harbor Commissioners Won’t Ask Staff About Project Labor Agreements

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Header Image - UncroppedFrom: Eric Christen
Subject: Questions that the Long Beach Port of Commissioners Won’t Ask Staff About Union PLAs
Date: May 13, 2016 at 8:23:44 AM PDT
To: Port of Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners

Port Commissioners.

As you move forward with the political document called a Port-Wide Project Labor Agreement (PLA) I had some questions I thought I’d ask that I know didn’t come up at last night’s meeting nor will they before you approve your Port-wide PLA on the 23rd.

At the very least this will cause you, one would hope, at least a moments reflection on just what you are doing to the 85% of your local constituents that chose to work in a union-free construction environment:

  1.  In the “report” shown by staff last night “local hire” and “City of Long Beach” percentages were given for current PLA projects. Question: What do you weight these percentages against? On previous non-PLA projects what were these percentages? Did the PLA get you anything here?
  2. You current PLAs and the Port-wide PLA defines “local” as anyone living in L.A. or Orange Counties. Really? Did staff even try and have a truly “local” definition inserted into the language that could then be shot down by union bosses
  3. How many of these current PLA projects are behind schedule and over budget? What metrics are in place to determine if the PLA had anything to do with these issues? What metrics will you have in place to determine if your Port-wide PLA is successful or not successful? Are local union bosses simply allowed to make “promises”, like they did  with “local hire”, yet have zero accountability when it comes to what the PLAs actually fail to accomplish?
  4. Your current PLAs and the Port-wide PLA that you “negotiated” all have the same language meant to discourage non-union local contractors from bidding your work:
    a.       All union-free workers must pay union dues
    b.       All union-free workers must pay into union pension and benefit plans they likely won’t vest in thus losing approximately $20 per hour from their paycheck
    c.       All union-free contractors are only allowed 5 of their workers at all with the rest having to come from the unions
    d.       All -union-free apprentices are explicitly excluded

Question: Considering the radical departure from your current SOP did you conduct a survey of local contractors to find what the likely hood is they will not bid your work in the future under a PLA? Why not?

I have conducted a survey and if any of you are interested in knowing what companies will not be bidding your work due to the exclusionary provisions of your PLA please let me know and I will forward them to you. Considering your lack of fiduciary responsibility to date it’s the least you could do.

Eric Christen
Executive Director
Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

Port of Long Beach Harbor Commissioners Prepares for Port-Wide Project Labor Agreement

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Header Image - UncroppedAt their May 12 meeting, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners is receiving a presentation from staff about adopting a Project Labor Agreement policy to cover future Port construction contracts. The board has voted for five Project Labor Agreements already and shows no inclination to preserve fair and open bid competition. A vote on a policy and negotiated Project Labor Agreement may be scheduled for the board’s May 23 meeting.

Project Labor Agreement Provokes Opposition to Measure LB at Long Beach Community College District

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Header Image - UncroppedPRESS RELEASE
May 10, 2016
Contact: Eric Christen, (858) 431-6337

Coalition to Oppose Massive $850 School Bond at Tonight’s Long Beach City College Meeting
Bond has been reduced by at least 10% thanks to Board of Trustees’ payoff to big labor special interests.

Long Beach, CA – At tonight’s Long Beach City College meeting the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) will call out the Board of Trustees for their support of a wasteful and discriminatory Long Beach Community College District Project Labor Agreement 2016.

A PLA would force workers to pay union dues, pay into union pension plans, be hired through a union hiring hall, and would explicitly forbid non-union apprentices from working at all.

“In this day and age where we see people from every aisle of the political spectrum disgusted with political payoffs from special interest groups, the Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees have shown a tone-deafness by giving big labor special interests a monopoly on all this work, thereby decreasing the value of each tax dollar” said Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC).

In 2011 the National University System Institute for Policy Research conducted a study of PLAs and the impact they had on school construction costs in California. They found that PLAs increased construction costs 13-15%.

We ask this: why would the Trustees vote now on such a measure when their last bond Measure E, worth $515 million, didn’t have any acknowledged problems?

At a time when other competing tax measures are on the ballot and when taxpayers are conserving every penny, the Board of Trustees instead chose to put special interests ahead of the interests of their hard-working constituents.

CFEC’s Eric Christen will be speaking at the Long Beach City College District Board of Trustees meeting tonight, May 10th. The meeting will be held at the Liberal Arts Campus – Building T – Room 1100. The address is 4901 E. Carson Street, Long Beach, CA 90808.

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Communication to Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees

Subject: Why we will be opposing Measure LB: Your Vote for a Union-Only PLA
Date: May 10, 2016 at 1:52:23 PM PDT

Dear LBCCD Board of Trustees,

Your vote on April 26 to place a union-crafted Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on your future construction bond work has forced us to educate voters about what this means for their tax dollars. PLAs are highly discriminatory and the most controversial issue facing the construction industry in America today. Big labor special interests push PLAs as a way to eliminate non-union competition from work covered by PLAs thus driving up the costs of these projects. A moment of research would have allowed you to discover this, and in fact we have sent you a large amount of data on PLAs and why they have no place in a just and equitable society.  Yet you persisted.

Now you are asking the taxpayers of your community to approve a $850 million construction bond that, because of the PLA, will be reduced in value by up to 15%Already you have had to spend money just to oversee the PLA by putting out an RFP for a PLA manager. This is only the beginning of the nightmare. As you can read in the series of L.A. Times stories on the nightmare that took place under the Los Angeles Community College District’s PLA (again, does anyone on your board do any research, at all?) PLAs benefit one group and one group only: union bosses.

Because of your failure to take your fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers seriously, not to mention your failure to protect the rights of all workers, we have been forced to educate voters in your district as to why they should think seriously about supporting your new tax.

Tonight we will announce this effort which will aggressively be implemented over the next 30 days.

You have no one but yourselves and your canine affection for union boss demands to blame for this situation.

Waste, fraud, abuse, and discrimination have no place in 2016 America.

Eric Christen
Executive Director
Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

Sacramento Municipal Utility District Won’t Rebid Grossly Overpriced Headquarters Without Project Labor Agreement

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Header Image - UncroppedFor years, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) board of directors anticipated awarding a contract for a major renovation of its headquarters with a bid specification requiring all contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the Sacramento-Sierra’s Building and Construction Trades Council. Bids have now been received and the low bid is about $30 million over the estimate. Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction and Richard Marksuon (representing the Western Electrical Contractors Association, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of California, and Air Conditioning Trade Association) asked the SMUD board on May 5 to try rebidding the project without the Project Labor Agreement. In response, the chairwoman of the SMUD board insisted that the Project Labor Agreement had nothing to do with the unexpectedly high price of the low bid.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District Board Had Been Warned about Project Labor Agreement Costs

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Header Image - UncroppedFrom: Eric Christen
Subject: We warned you what a PLA would do to your HQ renovation project costs
Date: May 5, 2016 at 3:21:53 PM PDT
To: Sacramento Municipal Utility District Board of Directors

SMUD Board,

For years we have warned you about the consequences of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Despite this your board has continued to be an oddity in the region by requiring PLAs on many of your projects despite the fact these discriminatory agreements reduce competition and increase costs. Most recently members of the contracting community, including contractors who would have otherwise bid the project, addressed you regarding why a PLA would reduce bidders and increase costs on your headquarter renovation project.

The results are now in. (Bids for SMUD Headquarters Overhaul Come in $30 Million Higher Than ExpectedSacramento Business Journal – May 3, 2016)

You can still avoid a catastrophe though by doing one thing: Rebid the project free of an exclusionary PLA. I promise that you will see a dramatic decrease in your bid numbers. Why? Because my members will bid it.

It’s your choice. Do you keep favoring big labor special interests or represent all your customers for a change?

It’s a $30 million question. Literally.

Eric Christen
Executive Director
Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

Alameda Unified School District Board Scheduled to Vote May 10, 2016 on Negotiated Project Labor Agreement

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Header Image - UncroppedThe agenda for the May 10, 2016 meeting of the board of the Alameda Unified School District indicates the board will consider (and certainly approve) a Project Labor Agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County. This would be a mandate for construction contracts funded by the Measure I bond proceeds. See the item here: http://alameda.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/CoverSheet.aspx?ItemID=6133&MeetingID=305

Long Beach Community College District Board Gives Unions Monopoly on Construction Contracts

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Header Image - UncroppedOn April 26, 2016, the board of the Long Beach Community College District voted to require its construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council as a condition of work. Disguised under the name “Community and Student Workforce Project Agreement (CSWPA),” this union deal is alleged to “create a satisfactory, continuous and harmonious relationship” on future job sites. And admittedly it’s true that unions feel harmonious when elected college board members discourage their bid competition and give them monopoly control over the contractor workforce. See the agreement at http://www.boarddocs.com/ca/lbcc/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=A8ZT746EE2D0.

Concord Community Newspaper Evaluates Project Labor Agreement Policy

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Header Image - UncroppedOn April 12, 2016, the Concord City Council voted 5-0 to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement with the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council. The city’s construction contractors would need to sign this union agreement as a condition of working on future projects. Read the staff report:

The Contra Costa Bee published an article on May 2, 2016 outlining the pros and cons of government-mandated Project Labor Agreements. Read the article here:

Can Concord Afford Project Labor Agreements?

 

San Diego Chargers Lose to Unions, Agree to Stadium Project Labor Agreement

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Header Image - UncroppedOn April 22, 2016, the San Diego Chargers professional football team held a press conference with the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council. Officials for the team and the unions announced a plan to require construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of building a new stadium and associated annex for the San Diego Convention Center.

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction believes this union deal was primarily motivated by two issues:

(1) The desire of the Chargers to have union campaign support for a proposed tax increase to fund the project.
(2) An anticipated threat from unions to block the project using the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) unless they obtained monopoly control of the construction trade workforce.