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  • March 5, 2019

Project Labor Agreements Don’t Stop Union Workers from Collectively Refusing to Work


Apologists for Project Labor Agreements sometimes try to defend government mandates for such union agreements by claiming they keep labor peace on construction job sites. Actually, under Project Labor Agreements there are routinely work stoppages on job sites, for various reasons. The claim is not true.

One typical kind of Project Labor Agreement failure occurs when a labor union not signatory to a PLA goes on strike and sets up picket lines. In principled solidarity with the labor movement, construction workers won’t cross those picket lines no matter what they agreed to do in a contract.

The latest incident occurred on Friday, March 1, when striking teachers at the Oakland Unified School District set up picket lines at the construction site of the Oakland Unified School District Central Kitchen, Instructional Farm, and Education Center, the celebrated future "hub of the new district-wide school food program network that connects nutrition, education, and community programs at OUSD's schools, kitchens, gardens, and produce market stands."

This project has experienced some problems (see "Construction Stops at Much-Anticipated Oakland Schools Kitchen"), and on March 1 work stopped once again. See the tweet above and Day Seven of Oakland Teachers' Strike: Pickets at Central Kitchen, Skyline High, and OUSD Board Meeting.

Was there a violation of the district’s current Project Labor Agreement for construction funded by bond measures? The location of the picket line was the Oakland Unified School District Central Kitchen, Instructional Farm, and Education Center Phase 2 on West Street between 28th and 29th Streets.

That project is covered by the Project Labor Agreement, which states there shall be ”No strikes, sympathy strikes, work stoppages, picketing, hand billing or otherwise advising the public that a labor dispute exists, or slowdowns of any kind.”

Oakland Unified School District Project Labor Agreement (2016-2021 version)

Original Facilities Lease Agreement for Oakland Unified School District Central Kitchen - 2850 West Street, Oakland, CA

Amended Facilities Lease Agreement for Oakland Unified School District Central Kitchen - 2850 West Street, Oakland, CA


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