• July 16, 2019

Massive Project Labor Agreement Failure: City of Hayward May Kick Union Electrical Contractor Off $53 Million Library Project

That’s embarrassing!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 16, a Bay Area city council may remove a prominent California electrical contractor from a $53 million library project and substitute it with another electrical contractor.

Incidentally, all contractors on the library project are required to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions.

The Public Works Director and City Attorney in Hayward, California are asking the Hayward City Council to approve their request to remove Collins Electric from a project called the 21st Century Library and Community Learning Center. (The general contractor is T. B. Penick & Sons.)

Allegedly this electrical contractor is responsible for “disruptive actions and project delays,” including “inability or unwillingness to complete critical tasks necessary to obtain occupancy of the library building and to complete the project.” This staff report lists specific alleged failures:

21st Century Library and Community Learning Center and Heritage Plaza: Public Contract Code § 4107 Hearing Regarding Removal and Substitution of the Electrical Subcontractor, Collins Electrical Company, Inc.

At the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, we know all about this library project and have been tracking it since the contract was awarded on September 15, 2015.

Why? On April 14, 2015, the Hayward City Council voted to impose its first Project Labor Agreement - on this very library project!

The Hayward City Council didn’t want an electrical contractor whose workers weren’t unionized and had ability and willingness to complete critical tasks necessary to obtain occupancy of the library building and to complete the project.

Then things got even worse. On November 15, 2016, the Hayward City Council voted to require construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions for ALL city contracts over $1 million.

The staff report for this vote cited the new library project as a positive experience in implementing Project Labor Agreements. That’s right, this $53 million project was regarded as such a success for Project Labor Agreements that the city council expanded its union mandate to all projects over $1 million.

We have no idea who is right or wrong in this controversy involving the electrical contractor. We do know that if this had happened to an electrical contractor without unionized electricians, on a project bid under fair and open competition, the unions would be proclaiming it endlessly throughout the State of California as justification for more Project Labor Agreements.

More proof that Project Labor Agreements are about POLITICS, not about LOGIC.

Remember this disaster the next time someone tries to sell a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) in your area.


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