State School Chief Urges Districts to be Partners with Labor, Consider PLAs

September 13, 2011 - In a letter to county and district school superintendents and charter school administrators, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has urged cooperation with workers to facilitate school construction, and warned those administrators not to be fooled by bogus research making false claims about Project Labor Agreements. Torlakson further attached an analysis by UCLA researchers debunking claims of an ABC-funded study that falsely concluded that PLAs increase construction costs. 

Local Building Trades councils are encouraged to share the State Superintendent’s message with local school district officials. Torlakson’s entire letter, and a link to the UCLA analysis, follow. 

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:


Providing safe and modern school facilities for California’s children is of vital importance to our state.  Achieving that goal requires decision-makers at every level of the school construction process to have accurate and reliable information.

As such, I have been troubled by the claims made recently by opponents of project labor agreements.  Project labor agreements are a valuable tool to help local education agencies complete quality projects on time, reduce maintenance costs, assure worker safety, and maximize local job creation.

Specifically, the UCLA Labor Center–California Construction Academy has thoroughly analyzed a recent report critical of project labor agreements. Their analysis raises serious concerns about the study’s focus, methodology, and the way in which results are reported.

A copy of their analysis accompanies this letter.  I hope you will review it and consider it as you determine the best approach for meeting the school facilities needs of your community.

Having declared the first school financial emergency in California’s history earlier this year, I am fully aware of the challenging fiscal circumstances school districts face.

I remain convinced, however, that our state’s economic recovery depends on our willingness to work in partnership with the working people of California, creating jobs and opportunity in the process.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Craig Cheslog, Principal Advisor to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Superintendent’s Initiatives Office, by phone at 916-319-0554 or by e-mail at [email protected].


Tom Torlakson

Here is a link to the UCLA analysis of the ABC-funded study of PLAs:


Print this Page