PLAS are Proving Successful and Growing More Popular Throughout California

May, 2012 - Approximately one year ago, I wrote in this space about the concerted attack by anti-worker extremists on all of us in the Building Trades; on our jobs, our livelihoods, our futures.  They were waging war around the state by tricking local governments and voters into banning project labor agreements.  For us to win that war, we needed to fight harder and smarter.

That’s what we’ve done.  And today I can tell you that we workers are winning that war in California.

We are entering into more and more PLAs, and they are proving to be spectacular successes.  Working with a Legislature and Governor who actually care about working people, we’ve passed legislation to protect the rights of cities and counties to enter into PLAs in the future.  We have fought together as one, and it is paying off.

Late last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to ban blanket prohibitions on PLAs, and to deny state funding on public works projects to any city or county that enacted such a ban.  More recently he signed a bill to clarify that those provisions apply to all charter cities as well as other cities and counties.

Debate on that bill sunk to a ridiculous new low when a Republican Assembly member, Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, declared on the Assembly floor that members who voted for the bill were violating their oaths of office because unions and union members were “enemies of the constitution.”

Her outlandish charge wasn’t enough to defeat the bill, but it serves as a good illustration of the vicious and desperate tactics we are facing, and that have harmed us in the past.

Meanwhile, we derailed an effort to qualify a PLA-ban for the ballot in the City of Sacramento, successfully convincing voters not to sign the ballot petitions.  And now we have strong reason to hope that the threat to public funding will convince San Diego voters to reject a PLA ban on their city ballot.

Meanwhile, smart local officials and private entities who know the benefits of PLAs are using them more and more.

Consider this string of new PLAs we have won in the past year:

•   For construction of the 49ers’ new $1.1 billion stadium.

•   For the $900 million BART extension to San Jose.

•   For construction of the $115 million San Jose Convention Center.

•   For five years worth of construction project at the Port of Los Angeles, covering $1.6 billion worth of work on 35 projects creating 6,000 jobs.

•   For $200 million worth of construction with the Berkeley School District.

•   The first ever PLA with Los Angeles County, for a $125 million project to rebuild the Martin Luther King Medical Center.

•   With the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for $40 billion worth of transportation construction work over the next five years, producing up to 15,000 construction jobs.

•   For a $255 million project for the construction of the Southern California International Gateway Project near the Port of Los Angeles.

•   For $350 million in construction and modernization work for the Pasadena Unified School District.

•   For a $500 million project to extend with the Bay Area Rapid Transit District for a new East Contra Costa extension.

•   For a combined $560 million worth of work on the Pio Pico Energy Center, Wild Horse Geothermal Project, and the Buckeye Geothermal Facility.

•   For $4 billion worth of construction work on the Transbay Transit Center.

•   For $287 million worth of modernization work with the San Jose Evergreen Community College District.

•   For all construction projects greater than $2 million for the next five years with the Contra Costa Community College District.

•   For a $6 million parking structure in the City of Baldwin Park. 

We are winning this war because we are fighting hard and smart and in unity.  We are on a great roll right now in our fight for a better quality of life for working men and women.

But we must never grow complacent.  The fight will never end.  We can only keep winning if we keep fighting together.

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