• Aug. 11, 2020

Santa Cruz County Local Businesses Don't Like Project Labor Agreements

Today (August 11, 2020), the Santa Cruz City Council will "Receive status report on staff’s analysis of Project Labor Agreements, consider staff’s recommended next steps, and provide further direction to staff." See the staff report:

Santa Cruz City Council Project Labor Agreement Staff Report - August 11 2020

It's a bit frustrating for union officials, who wanted the Project Labor Agreement mandate put in place by now to eliminate their local bid competition for projects going out to bid.

Even more frustrating for them is the city's survey of local bidders for city contracts. The staff report summarizes the results:

Over 50 contractors, most of whom had done or plan to do work for the City of Santa Cruz responded to the survey. Eighty percent of those responding indicated that they would not participate in bidding on projects with PLA requirements. The following statement from one survey respondent does a good job of summarizing this perspective:

“Our company and our employees choose not to work in a unionized environment. Besides this overlying issue, there are multiple other reasons including - 1) PLA's limit our ability to use our existing workforce; 2) A significant portion of our employee’s benefit payments would be placed into funds where they receive no benefit; 3) To ensure our employee receive benefits, we would be compelled to fund both our current benefit program and the Union programs. This would significantly increase our costs. 4) Being a one-job PLA signatory employer only, the union would have no incentive to dispatch us their better workers.”

An additional stand out concern raised by survey respondents related to workforce development opportunities. The following statement from a survey respondent summarizes these concerns:

“As above, incentivizing apprenticeship and internal company training programs, both union and non union, would be of great benefit. Our specialty trained employees work throughout the SF and Monterey Bays, returning dollars from the region to our area through our employees, and they are able to do so due to the specialty training we provide that allows them to perform our firm's specialty services. Incentives to hire underserved individuals and "take a risk" on employees who may or may not work out are excellent as well. As stated above, the CAB's Smart Hire program is a good model. We have utilized it to provide opportunity to people in the program and think it is an excellent way to engage people in the workforce.”

See the staff report and survey on the Santa Cruz City Council website: Update on Staff Work Related to Project Labor Agreements and Community Benefit Strategies for Capital Improvement Projects - Item 30.


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