San Diego Clarifies City Ordinance: Project Labor Agreements are Permitted

October 23, 2014 - Driven by the desire to remain eligible for state funding for infrastructure projects, the San Diego City Council acted this week to clarify that the city government remains free to consider Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for municipal public works projects. Senate Bill 922 (2011) and Senate Bill 829 (2012), sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, established that for local governments to be eligible for state construction funds, they cannot have a blanket ban on PLAs, but rather must remain free to consider them on a project by project basis based on the best interests of the taxpayers. In September, a Superior Court Judge upheld that requirement, ruling that the state may offer such financial incentives to encourage local governments to adhere to beneficial policies.

San Diego had enacted a blanket ban on PLAs in 2012. In order to remain eligible for state funds pursuant to SB 922 and SB 829, the City Council this week unanimously approved a resolution stipulating that an “exception” provision in the measure permits the city to consider PLAs on all projects, because this is necessary for continued eligibility for state funds.

The State Building Trades worked with city officials, Governor Brown, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins of San Diego to assure that the city can continue to receive state funds, while remaining free to consider PLAs on all projects.

San Diego’s action comes as charter cities throughout California are similarly adopting ordinances to provide prevailing wage on municipal projects in order to remain eligible for state funding under the terms of Senate Bill 7 from 2013.

SBCTC President Robbie Hunter commented: “The recent San Diego Superior Court Decision upholding SB 7, SB 922 and SB 829 has driven recent actions of city councils throughout the state, resulting in removal of barriers on paying prevailing wage and project labor agreements, which provide a highly skilled, streamlined workforce, with decent wages, apprenticeship training and well-built public works projects that benefit the entire community. The Building Trades’ united legislative advocacy has resulted in laws like this that protect taxpayers, provide for better projects, and drive the economy.”



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