• April 2, 2018

April 2, 2018 Email to San Jose City Council: Before you reward trade union extortion on the Project Labor Agreement issue please consider this...

April 2, 2018

San José City Council
200 E. Santa Clara St. 
San José, CA 95113

Re: A Vote for the "Private Development Workforce Standards/Community Workforce Agreements on Public Projects" Is a Statement of Approval for Abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

San José City Councilmembers:

At your December 12, 2017 meeting, a project applicant named Brent Lee told you the following about rampant abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in San Jose:

Shifting gears on the adequacy of the CEQA again, I just wanted to note that the law firm that submitted the letter to the commission and to the council, they have a clear pattern of this kind of behavior. So, I've listed here all of the dates and the projects that Adams Broadwell has submitted, a last second page or more to the city. And that's seven projects before ours, we're the eighth project. And every single time the city and the city council have determined that the CEQA documents prepared by the city are complete and adequate and that there are no deficiencies, and every single time the city and city council have approved these projects. So, I'm hoping that the same game and charade again this time, and although we should all take public input seriously and make sure that the comments are analyzed, which the city staff has. So, they took three weeks to dissect the Adams and Broadwell letter and they have prepared a written report to you all dissecting each and every point of that letter. And so it would appear to me that the staff has done a thorough job analyzing the comments of Adams and Broadwell's letter and the conclusion of your professional staff is that the CEQA analysis is adequate. (Source: Transcript of City of San José City council meeting of December 12, 2017.)

As you know, the City of San José has now been sued by the unions for approving that project. Another project to provide badly-need residential housing in Silicon Valley is hindered by unions wanting monopolies on construction jobs.

Why would you EVER reward an organization that exploited the state’s environmental laws in order to extract economic concessions (specifically, a Project Labor Agreement) from developers? It’s like giving them a license for CEQA abuse. And of course this “compromise” is just a “good first step” as union spokesperson Louise Auerhahn put it in this Mercury News story dealing with your vote. As Winston Churchill so famously said: “Appeasement is simply feeding the crocodile in the hope it will eat you last.”

Do you really believe that unions will leave private development alone after this?

In case you declare later to the public that you didn’t know what unions were doing with CEQA in your city, below is a list of union objections to environmental reviews or other permitting processes for nine proposed developments since 2013:

(Note: on behalf of San Jose Residents for Responsible Development, the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo filed a lawsuit on January 11, 2018 in Santa Clara County Superior Court against the City of San Jose challenging the environmental review of 120 N 4th Street. See San Jose Residents for Responsible Development et al. v City of San Jose et al., Case No. CV321709. Also, unions held a press conference on January 18, 2018 to highlight their lawsuit: see the NBC Bay Area news story San Jose Land Slated For High Rise is Contaminated: Lawsuit.

Plus, unions opposed a proposal to streamline environmental review in the City of San Jose:

August 12, 2014 Santa Clara Building and Construction Trades Council Opposes Local CEQA Reform (Streamlining Ordinance) – City of San Jose

Vote NO on the "Private Development Workforce Standards/Community Workforce Agreements on Public Projects.” Please don’t feed the crocodile! 

Eric Christen
Executive Director
Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction 


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