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  • July 31, 2018

Will Sacramento City Council Keep a Secret for the Unions About California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Abuse?


July 31, 2018

Re: Public Hearing Item 3 - Third Party Appeal: Natomas Crossing Quadrant B Office File ID: 2018-01067

Dear Sacramento Mayor and City Council Members:

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction urges you to be open and transparent about the abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by labor unions to hold up project approvals for the purpose of achieving economic objectives unrelated to environmental protection.

At your afternoon meeting today, you will hold a public hearing to consider a third-party appeal of a unanimous vote of the City of Sacramento Planning and Design Commission on June 28, 2018 to approve an addendum to a previously adopted Environmental Impact Report. This would allow construction of five, 4-story office buildings and a child care center, described as “Natomas Crossing Quadrant B Office.” This is apparently the site of a future corporate campus for the Centene Corporation.

The appellant is not a recognized environmental organization or a neighborhood association. It is a construction trade union - Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 185. The Laborers Union has hired a law firm (Lozeau Drury LLP) to appeal this environmental approval.

As you can see from the chart below, LIUNA hires Lozeau Drury to object to environmental reviews on proposed projects throughout California. There seems to be a strong correlation between withdrawal of these objections and a decision of the project developer to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with construction trade unions.

An article in the July 20, 2018 Sacramento Business Journal provides some background on the union dispute with the Natomas Crossing Quadrant B Office regarding terms and conditions of labor for the construction site. Regrettably, no one from the Laborers Union was willing to speak to the reporter about its concerns about environmental review for this project. (See EXCLUSIVE: Union files challenge to proposal for Centene corporate campus.)

However, as a city council, you can certainly ask attorneys of Lozeau Drury and representatives of Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 185 if a Project Labor Agreement or some other agreement with unions on terms and conditions of labor on the construction site is necessary for withdrawal of objections to the environmental review. It would be deceptive to the public if you held this public hearing and pretended it was about greenhouse gas emissions or biological resources.

Representatives of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction will be at the hearing to provide a perspective from the public about this inappropriate exercise of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as a union negotiating tactic. Whether or not you believe that construction companies should sign a Project Labor Agreement to work on the Centene project, you should be informing the public that Laborers Union appeal of environmental review under CEQA has a motivation not indicated in the appeal statement or the staff report. This abuse of CEQA by big labor special interests in California is offensive and harming our business climate.  

Sincerely,
 
Eric Christen
Executive Director
Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

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