News Coverage Praises SBCTC's San Diego Courthouse PLA

June 18, 2013 - The current issue of the Bureau of National Affairs’ Construction Labor Report includes a report on the State Building Trades’ project labor agreement to build a new $586 million state courthouse in San Diego. The positive aspects of the PLA are detailed. The report quotes SBCTC President Robbie Hunter regarding how the PLA ensures local hiring, and the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts on the PLA’s guarantee of certainty and timeliness on the project.

The article follows.

California Building Trades Reaches PLA With Builder on San Diego Courthouse

By Stephen Siciliano

LOS ANGELES—The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California has reached a project labor agreement with builder Rudolph and Sletten on a $586 million state courthouse in San Diego.

Building Trades Council President Robert Hunter told BNA June 11 the agreement was reached in May. The contractor has signed the agreement and the council is gathering signatures from member unions, “most” of whom have done so.

The agreement, he said, does not unionize the project because Rudolph and Sletten has agreements with most of the trades covered under the pact, which has a standard no-strike/lockout clause.

“It does ensure local hiring,” said Hunter. “The only way to give locals preference over senior members in the hiring hall is through a PLA.”

In an email to the Judicial Council, Steven Jahr, director, Administrative Office of the Courts, explained that after talks with the Building Trades Council and the contractor, it was decided a PLA would be beneficial and that this case would serve as a pilot.

“I requested that the contractor enter into a PLA with the Trades Council,” wrote Jahr, “to ensure certainty and timeliness as well as reduce variables in a construction project of this magnitude.”

The courthouse will have 71 rooms and is intended to replace the existing structure in downtown San Diego, which has seismic and security issues.

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) an anti-PLA advocacy group, said in a statement that the courthouse pact violates a voter initiative prohibiting the city of San Diego from entering PLAs where public funding is involved.

It is the second time in as many months the charge has surfaced. In November, the San Diego Building Trades and Construction Trades Council reached a PLA with Clark Construction on a large convention center renovation project.

In May, CFEC filed a Public Records Act lawsuit in state court to obtain documents it believes will reveal how the PLA was reached (59 CLR 289, 5/2/13). CFEC has also made a request under the act to the Administrative Office of the Courts.

The construction unions and contractors say that the measure, Proposition A, prohibited the city from entering into PLAs, not for private parties to do so.

Jahr wrote, “We realize there are some who criticize PLAs. We have examined those criticisms and believe, for this project, there is an overall benefit.” He noted that a number of collective bargaining agreements with trades involved in construction of the building will expire and the PLA ensures labor peace as the renewal anniversaries come around.

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