Posts

Union Campaign Contributions Pile Up Before School Board Vote on Union Deal

Whenever California voters approve a sizable bond measure to fund construction at a school or community college district, union lobbyists quickly scramble to win control of the work through a Project Labor Agreement. At the Salinas Union High School District, a flood of union campaign money preceded a September 29 board vote to abandon negotiations and impose a Project Labor Agreement under terms demanded by the unions.

In November 2014, 60.3% of voters in Salinas, California authorized the Salinas Union High School District to borrow $128 million for facilities construction by selling bonds to investors. Information provided to voters about the bond measure did not indicate any intention of the school district to require its construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions. In fact, the district had successfully completed a previous bond-funded construction program without a Project Labor Agreement mandate.

Salinas Union High School District Project Labor AgreementFour months after voters approved the borrowing, a Project Labor Agreement discussion appeared as an item on March 24, 2015 board agenda. After the head of the Salinas Valley Federation of Teachers urged the board to mandate a Project Labor Agreement, most of the board members declared their enthusiastic support for it.

On May 26, the board voted 5-1 to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement with the unions. Unless the district could negotiate different terms to protect fair and open bid competition on its contracts, the union agreement would require all contractors on a new high school to obtain their journeymen and apprentices from the unions, pay all employee fringe benefits to union trust funds, and arrange for their workers to pay union dues and fees.

To the dismay of board members, the finalized Project Labor Agreement did not come back for quick approval.

District staff and its attorney tried to work in the interest of the district to negotiate better terms and conditions, rather than simply signing the standard Project Labor Agreement template provided by the union attorney. Throughout the summer, union negotiators were unwilling to budge on a variety of provisions.

In the meantime, the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Salinas Taxpayers Association, and several local and regional construction associations informed the public about the union plot. The Chamber of Commerce even publicized the names and official public phone numbers of board members.

It was a rare and unexpected occasion of public accountability for the policy decisions of the school board. In fact, most news coverage of the Salinas Union High School District from March through September was about construction labor issues, not the education of high school students.

Board members responded angrily during board meetings and in local newspaper articles about what was happening. They complained about negative community attention generated by business groups and the barrage of critical phone calls. They also expressed frustration with the district’s failure to surrender to union negotiating demands. At board meetings, they responded to questions from the district’s negotiating attorney by showing disinterest and even contempt for the arcane but important issues disputed in the proposed agreement.

It’s reasonable to assume that the unpleasant public attention to this issue worried the three incumbent board members up for re-election on November 3, 2015. All three of them supported the Project Labor Agreement.

Starting at the beginning of August, the unions supporting the Project Labor Agreement (the Salinas Valley Federation of Teachers, the California School Employees Association, and the Monterey/Santa Cruz Building and Construction Trades Council) began funding the campaigns of those three incumbents running for re-election. In fact, these unions were the only major contributors to their campaigns. See the timeline below.

Major Campaign Contributions from Unions to Salinas Union High School District Board of Trustees

At the September 22 meeting board meeting, the attorney representing the school district began yet another presentation outlining areas of disagreement between the unions and the district regarding the Project Labor Agreements, As usual, she sought direction from the board. But for some reason, a majority of the school board chose this time to terminate the negotiations. They scheduled a special board meeting on September 29 solely to vote on the version of the Project Labor Agreement desired by the unions.

Salinas Union High School District Board

At that meeting, the board voted 5-1 for the Project Labor Agreement. Union officials organized an impromptu celebration rally outside of the school district headquarters and had photos taken with some of the board members who voted for it. The unions’ investment of money in the board members’ campaigns had presumably helped to ensure approval of the Project Labor Agreement.

Whether the union campaign contributions ensure re-election of the board members remains to be seen.


Kevin Dayton is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

Unions Win First Victory to Control Projects Funded by Water Bond

It was unlikely that a few isolated and marginalized critics would discourage California voters from approving a statewide ballot measure (Proposition 1) authorizing the state to borrow more than $7 billion for water projects. As Proposition 1 stated, “California has been experiencing more frequent and severe droughts and is currently enduring the worst drought in 200 years. These droughts are magnifying the shortcomings of our current water infrastructure.”

As a result, Proposition 1 passed on November 4, 2014 with 67.1% of the vote. Few people heard or heeded warnings from negative ninnies alleging that state agencies and local governments would surely squander the borrowed billions from Wall Street on special interest enrichment schemes.

Now the rains are coming to ease the crisis. Meanwhile, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors today (December 9, 2014) took the first legislative action to prove the negative ninnies were right.

MC-MCWRA PLA SlideAt the demand of California Assemblymember Luis Alejo, the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 and the Water Board voted 6-1 to direct staff to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement with the Monterey/Santa Cruz Building and Construction Trades Council for the Interlake Tunnel Project. All construction companies will be required to sign this union agreement as a condition of working on the project.

This project is likely to be among the first – if not THE first – water project to obtain Proposition 1 water bond funding from the California Water Commission. At Monterey County Board of Supervisors meetings on October 14 and October 28, Assemblyman Alejo told the board that he had received a commitment from Governor Brown for $12-15 million for the project.

But Assemblyman Alejo also first suggested and then declared to the board that the money would only come if the county adopted a specific “design-build” procurement procedure authorized in Assembly Bill 155, introduced by Assemblyman Alejo and signed into law by Governor Brown. Assembly Bill 155 included a provision requiring the county to impose a Project Labor Agreement if it bid the Interlake Tunnel Project using the design-build procurement method.

Documents subsequently obtained from Monterey County through a public records request exposed how state and local construction union lobbyists inserted this Project Labor Agreement mandate into the bill with the enthusiastic participation of Assemblyman Alejo. Democrats (and one Republican) moved this bill through the state legislature, despite votes by the Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors and the Salinas River Basin Management Plan Committee to oppose Assembly Bill 155 because of the unwanted Project Labor Agreement mandate imposed by the legislature on their own project.

By the time the scheduled vote on the Project Labor Agreement appeared on the December 9, 2014 joint meeting of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors, the design-build procurement procedure had become a sideshow to the real issue: giving the unions a Project Labor Agreement. A staff presentation stated that a Project Labor Agreement would be imposed on the Interlake Tunnel Project no matter what kind of bid procurement system was used.

And no one wanted to let the public know why the unions were getting a monopoly on construction of a project expected to receive federal, state, and local funding courtesy of the taxpayers. The staff report and staff presentation for the item did not define or explain a Project Labor Agreement, nor did it indicate any reasons why a Project Labor Agreement was needed.

Monterey County Water Resources AgencyNo one on the Board of Supervisors or Water Board wanted to explain it either. Any ordinary residents watching the meeting and looking at the background documents would have been mystified. However, they would have recognized that Assemblyman Alejo and union lobbyists at the meeting were very intent on making sure that the boards made an unambiguous commitment to mandate a Project Labor Agreement.

Water Board member Mike Scattini, a representative appointed by the Grower-Shipper Association, was the one NO vote. The other eleven board members supported the deal or surrendered to the deal, for ideological reasons, political reasons, or pragmatic reasons.

California local governments are getting accustomed to the idea that the state will withhold funds for their projects and activities unless they acquiesce to the union political agenda. For example, charter cities throughout the state have been scrambling in the last few months to modify their municipal codes to express complete submission to state prevailing wage laws.

Water agencies will soon learn that money borrowed by the state via water bond sales comes to local governments with some costly and anti-competitive conditions imposed from the capitol. The Interlake Tunnel Project was estimated in June to cost $22 million; now it is estimated to cost $63 million – including $32.2 million just for the construction component. It’s unknown if the estimate includes cost increases anticipated from the reduced bid competition under a Project Labor Agreement.

Sources

How a Bill Becomes a Law in California: Assembly Bill 155 (2014) (with links to cited source documents)

Agenda and Reports for December 9, 2014 Special Joint Meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Board of Supervisors of the Water Resources Agency and the Water Resources Agency Board of Directors

Proposition 1 – Water Bond. Funding for Water Quality, Supply, Treatment, and Storage Projects

Election Results – Proposition 1


Kevin Dayton is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

Documents Expose Union Lobbying Scheme to Control Water Project Construction

Union dealing and scheming over state legislation in California occurs behind closed doors. The sudden and unexplained recent flip of the union position on a state plastic bag ban is a typical example.

Rarely is the true story ever revealed to the public, who ends up paying for those secret deals.

2014-06-01 Alejo Email on AB 155 and PLA Mandate on MCRWA Interlake PipelineA rare exception has emerged with Assembly Bill 155. Based on information collected and organized about the union manipulation of the legislative process for this one bill, someone could write a dissertation about how a bill really becomes a law – at least in California.

Now at Governor Brown’s desk for signature or veto, this bill would allow the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to use design-build contracting for a pipeline connecting two reservoirs.

Union lobbyists at the state and county level decided they would extract a union monopoly for construction of the project in exchange for letting the agency get its alternative bidding procedure. They had an ambitious member of the State Assembly eager to help them out. For the first time, a bill was advanced in the state legislature directing a local government to require a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of awarding its construction contracts.

2014-06-30 Alejo Wants to Get Going on PLA for Interlake Pipeline ProjectPolitical finesse is no longer required when you know you control the government. The behind-the-scenes union plotting and pressure became so crudely brazen that the Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors ended up repudiating its own bill.

AB 155 continued to advance through the legislature anyway, propelled by the momentum of union desire to get this Project Labor Agreement language into state law as a precedent for state mandates on future projects. Ends will justify the means if Governor Brown signs it.

Through diligent research and strategic opposition, advocates of fair and open bid competition were able to obtain enough documents to develop an extensive chronological chart revealing the entire plot, complete with links to source documents. The chart is below, or you can access a PDF version at “How Legislation Is Made (California Assembly Bill 155 – 2014).”

How Legislation Is Made (California Assembly Bill 155 – 2014)

Date

Event

Notes

May 14, 2014

California governments are encouraged to respond to a serious drought by initiating planned construction projects meant to improve water storage. The Monterey County Water Resources Agency and agricultural interests are inspired to resurrect a 1991 proposal for an Interlake Pipeline Project between the Nacimiento and San Antonio reservoirs and seek federal and state grants to fund it.

Relevant Material for May 14 Workshop and Meeting

May 23, 2014

A staff report about initial steps for the Interlake Pipeline Project is released in advance of a June 3 joint meeting of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors. It does not mention a requirement for construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of work.

Background for June 3 Meeting

May 27, 2014

A meeting involving top staff of Monterey County and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board is held “relating to proposed Interlake Tunnel Project legislation.” In addition, records indicate scheduling for a second “important” meeting on this date involving Lew Bauman and David Chardavoyne at the Tanimura & Antle corporate office. (It is suspected by some that this meeting – held outside of a government office – may have included Bob Antle and/or union official Ron Chesshire.)

Setting Meetings for May 27

Lew Bauman is the Chief Administrative Officer for Monterey County. David Chardavoyne is the General Manager for the Monterey County Water Resources Agency. Bob Antle was a member of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors and a prominent and respected local agribusiness executive and philanthropist. (He died on August 3.)
May 28, 2014

Ron Chesshire emails Lew Bauman asking which government entity – Monterey County or Monterey County Water Resources Agency – has responsibility for Interlake Pipeline Project. He indicates he’ll bring “a document” to a scheduled May 29 meeting. The email is also sent to “our attorney” Sharon Seidenstein.

Ron Chesshire May 28, 2014 Email

Ron Chesshire is the CEO of the Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building and Construction Trades Council. Sharon Seidenstein has handled government-mandated Project Labor Agreements as an attorney at the union-oriented law firm of Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld.
May 28, 2014 Lew Bauman emails Ron Chesshire stating that the Interlake Pipeline Project is a project for Monterey County Water Resources Agency: “a separate agency for the County.” He provides an excerpt from draft legislation authorizing design-build contracting for the project. (This excerpt is a provision mandating the design-build entity to enter into a Project Labor Agreement that will bind all of the contractors performing work on the project.) Bauman also reports that the Monterey County Board of Supervisors will vote on June 3 to start environmental review and preliminary design for the project.

Lew Bauman May 28, 2014 Email

California law authorizes some state agencies and local governments to bid certain projects through a “design-build” procurement procedure rather than a traditional “design-bid-build” procedure. The government selects the winning bidder using somewhat subjective criteria and does not need to award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder.
May 29, 2014

Ron Chesshire emails Lew Bauman with new proposed language for the Project Labor Agreement mandate in the design-build authorization bill. He also emails it to Assemblyman Luis Alejo, Cesar Diaz, and David Armanasco.

Ron Chesshire May 29, 2014 Email

Assemblymember Luis Alejo, a Democrat from Watsonville, represents the Salinas Valley. Cesar Diaz is a lobbyist at the state capitol in Sacramento for the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.  David Armanasco is a public relations executive who prepared the Monterey County Water Resource Agency’s $20 million federal grant application for the Interlake Tunnel Project.
May 29, 2014

David Armanasco forwards Ron Chesshire’s email proposing new language for a Project Labor Agreement mandate to Bob Antle, who forwards it to Bob Drake and Steve Wang at EPC Consultants, Inc. for review. Antle also forwards the language to Jack Baylis, Lew Bauman, and David Armanasco. Drake approves the language.

Internal Review May 29, 2014 for Chesshire Language 

EPC Consultants was hired internally by David Chardavoyne as program manager for the Interlake Pipeline Project. Some members of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors (as well as Ron Chesshire) criticized the timing and process of selecting this consultant. Jack Baylis is a construction consultant.
June 1, 2014 Ron Chesshire emails Lew Bauman complaining that the Board of Supervisors would not be voting on June 3 for “worker protection provisions,” i.e. a Project Labor Agreement. “I am waiting to hear from the State Building Trades Council whether the proposed attached language [for state design-build authorization] is legal/acceptable at the State level.”

Ron Chesshire June 1, 2014 Email

Assemblyman Luis Alejo emails Lew Bauman, Ron Chesshire, Cesar Diaz, David Armanasco, Tony Skinner, and Sharon Seidenstein:“Let’s work this our [sic] soon and have an agreement with our local Building Trades so we can have this project move expeditiously and with strongest level of support.”

Assemblyman Luis Alejo June 1, 2014 Email

Lew Bauman responds to Assemblyman Luis Alejo: “We have forwarded legislation to your office reviewed by Building Trade counsel. We are grateful to you for your assistance with expediting this critical water supply project.”

Lew Bauman June 1, 2014 Email

Tony Skinner is the President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union No. 952 in Ventura.
June 2, 2014

Ron Chesshire emails Lew Bauman: “we believed we were submitting language for the County to approve. We are not sure what was proposed will fly at the State. The State Building Trades is working on something and will submit within the next day or so. What we are looking for is a commitment by the County…”

Ron Cheshire June 2, 2014 First Email

Cesar Diaz emails Ron Chesshire, Lew Bauman, Assemblyman Luis Alejo; David Armanasco, Tony Skinner, and Sharon Seidenstein: “Attached are our requested amendments/ changes to the draft language in order to address our request for a Project Labor Agreement. The language provides that if the design-build authority is utilized a Project Labor Agreement would be required. The Project Labor Agreement is to be negotiated locally with the corresponding Building Trades Council(s). Its [sic] straightforward, but please contact me if you have any questions or feedback.”

Cesar Diaz June 2, 2014 Email

Ron Chesshire emails Cesar Diaz, Lew Bauman, Assemblyman Luis Alejo; David Armanasco, Tony Skinner, and Sharon Seidenstein about a 2:00 phone call between him and Lew Bauman: “I reminded him that we are never assured of what the political winds in Sacramento will bring, there can be change. Therefore, it is up to the County to make an equal commitment as provided by the proposed language to the State. The Bd of Supes will meet tomorrow and may take action to move forward. If this is the case, at a meeting in the next week or two the Supes will need to consider approving an action to accept the conditions outlined in the proposed bill regarding the conditions of construction. When this is done there will be sufficient assurance of the County’s commitment.”

Ron Chesshire June 2, 2014 Second Email

June 3, 2014 An item related to the Interlake Pipeline Project is added late as an addendum to the agenda for a joint meeting of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency board of directors. After discussion, the boards vote unanimously to authorize environmental review and design of the Interlake Tunnel Project and develop a funding agreement for this work. According to the meeting minutes, Ron Chesshire says during public comment that his organization supports the project and “will work diligently to ensure legislation moves forward for the success of the Project. The Project includes two collective bargaining areas who may also be involved in its construction.”

Relevant Material for June 3, 2014 Joint Board Meeting

Public Meeting – Monterey County Board of Supervisors and Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors
June 9, 2014

Assemblymember Luis Alejo guts the contents of his Assembly Bill 155 and inserts new language authorizing the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to use design-build contracting for the Interlake Pipeline Project, provided that the design-build entity signs a Project Labor Agreement binding all contractors on the project.

AB 155 is designated as an “urgency” bill to take effect immediately, which requires two-thirds approval of both the Assembly and the Senate. In the Senate, two Republican votes are needed to achieve two-thirds because of scandals neutralizing the votes of three Democrat senators. Democrats control two-thirds of the Assembly with two votes to spare.

Assembly Bill 155 – Legislative History

June 16, 2014 Ron Chesshire send this email to Assemblyman Luis Alejo, Bob Fredenburg, Tyler Blackney, Nicole Charles, Gina Moretti, Jamie Mori, Lew Bauman, David Armanasco, Cesar Diaz, Cesar Lara, and the offices of the five members of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors:

“Assemblyman Alejo, I have reviewed the current language of AB 155. As long as there are no significant changes I believe the State has done it’s [sic] part in assuring a safe, expeditious, project which will be free of undue disruption by writing in a Project Labor Agreement provision. My concern is that the County has not entered into any talks with us to date. To wait until a Bill is passed does not guarantee a fair negotiation it only ensures that workers are at a disadvantage if a Bill is passed. The County needs to step up to the Project Labor Agreement? I presented a standard “Draft” Project Labor Agreement to Mr Bauman. We would like to enter into immediate talks with the County because we believe they must also ensure the same protections the State is currently considering. If they accept I will inform you of any progress. If the County cannot or will not act we will remove our support for the Bill.”

Lew Bauman responds in an email that this is a proposed Water Resources Project, and not a County Project. David Chardavoyne, General Manager of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, is the “appropriate point of contact for development of a Project Labor Agreement.”

Ron Chesshire Email & Lew Bauman Reply June 16, 2014

Tyler Blackney is an aide to Assemblyman Luis Alejo. Bob Fredenburg is the chief consultant for the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. Nicole Charles is an aide to Senator Bill Monning. Gina Moretti is an aide to Assemblyman Mark Stone. Jamie Mori is an aide to Senator Anthony Cannella.

Cesar Lara is the Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council.

June 17, 2014

Tyler Blackney sends an email to Ron Chesshire, Assemblyman Luis Alejo, Bob Fredenburg, Nicole Charles, Gina Moretti, Jamie Mori, Lew Bauman, David Armanasco, Cesar Diaz, Cesar Lara, Lew Bauman, Norm Groot, and the offices of the five members of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors: “I am scrambling to get the committee all of the need materials (factsheet, background sheet, author’s statement, letters of support, etc.), which are due by end of day today. If your organization is in support of the measure and would like to be listed as such on the committee analysis, please send me a brief letter of support TODAY. Sorry for the quick turnaround but, due to urgent nature of the bill, we do not have much time.”

In another email, Blackney asks John Arriaga, “If you can also contact the labor folks and ask them to do the same (both local and state level) that would be very helpful.” It is copied to Bob Fredenburg and Laurie Johnson.

Staff Emails Plea for Material on Assembly Bill 155

Norm Groot is the Executive Director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau.

Laurie Johnson is a lobbyist with JEA & Associates, a firm that represents Monterey County at the state capitol in Sacramento.

June 18, 2014

Opponents of the Project Labor Agreement mandate in AB 155 use the meeting of the Salinas River Basin Management Planning Committee of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to launch their public attack on the bill. According to meeting minutes, “Kevin Dayton, President and CEO of Labor Issues Solutions in Roseville, voiced his opposition to certain components of AB 155, specifically referencing the design/build method of procurement. Mr. Dayton stated the Project Labor Agreement mandate and the restrictions imposed by it are at issue. He noted this is historical in the State of California as the first time this mandate has ever been included in a bill. He recommended removing this requirement from the bill to allow open bidding on the project or, alternatively, utilizing the standard authorization that has been utilized in other bills.”

Nancy Isakson of the Salinas Valley Water Coalition then stated that the Project Labor Agreement mandate in AB 155 was another illustration of lack of process. Ms. Isakson stated the Bill changes the Agency’s governing act and was not brought to the Board and/or public for proper vetting before moving forward.

Norm Groot of the Monterey County Farm Bureau said “politics is changing this” and the agency was “taking what Sacramento dishes out.” According to the meeting minutes, Groot declared “the agricultural community was angered this process was taking place without having been presented to the full Board first to ensure we were moving in the right direction. The community came together for the Salinas River Stream Maintenance Project. At that time the community emphasized they did not want Sacramento to dictate the direction. Mr. Groot stated this issue is similar and should have been brought to the community and BOD in a transparent manner.”

During a lengthy committee discussion of AB 155, staff revealed (as reported in meeting minutes) that “The language regarding the labor agreement was added in the process. The Building Trades Council added this to garner their support for the Bill” and “Our elected officials would not carry the bill without this being added.” Board member Bob Antle said that the union mandate was necessary in order to fast-track the bill and the project. He said the agency would lose seven to twelve months and would not be “shovel-ready” for grants: “Without union support, we can’t do it. It’s too late to push back; it really is.” He also reported that the head of the Monterey/Santa Cruz Building and Construction Trades Council said unions would oppose the bill unless a Project Labor Agreement was in it.

Relevant Material for June 18, 2014 Committee Meeting

Public Meeting – Salinas River Basin Management Planning Committee

Nancy Isakson is President of the Salinas Valley Water Coalition.

Kevin Dayton is President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC and the Dayton Public Policy Institute. He prepared this chart and reported on the AB 155 controversy in these four articles:

“Monterey County Water Resources Agency: Target of First State-Mandated Project Labor Agreement”

“Will a Few Republican State Legislators Open Floodgates for Costly Union Control of California Water Projects?”

“Monterey County Water Officials Abandon Bill After Unions Reshape It”

“Legislature Tries to Mix Union Mandates and Our Water Agency” page 11

June 18, 2014

Monterey County Board of Supervisors letter in support of AB 155 goes to Sacramento lobbyist John Arriaga for distribution at the state capitol. It comes with a report of trouble from county staff: “BMP Committee met this a.m. and has major concerns with the bill and the Agency Board may not be willing to sign a support letter.”

Warning of Trouble on Assembly Bill 155 – June 18, 2014

John E. Arriaga of JEA & Associates is a contract lobbyist at the state capitol in Sacramento for Monterey County.
June 18, 2014

Ron Chesshire emails Lew Bauman, David Chardavoyne, Cesar Diaz, and David Armanasco: “At a WRA committee meeting today opposition to our Bill AB 155 was aired by Don Chapin and Kevin Dayton. As previously conveyed, there are some who are in opposition to Project Labor Agreement’s. [sic] I will be very direct, WE will not accept ANY detrimental change made by them to the Bill or a Project Labor Agreement. They do not negotiate for us and we will not accept any compromise they provide. We have had to deal with them in the past and am familiar with their tactics and proposals. They do not speak for Labor and their so called compromises are nothing more than attempts to “gut” a Project Labor Agreement. I am waiting to hear from Mr Chardavoyne and it seems that Mr Antle may not have had the opportunity to convert Mr Chapin?”

Ron Chesshire June 18, 2014 Email on Opposition

Don Chapin, Jr. is President of The Don Chapin Company (a construction company based in Salinas) and a member of the Salinas River Basin Management Planning Committee.
June 20, 2014 On behalf of the Salinas Valley Water Coalition (SVWC), President Nancy Isakson sends a letter to Assemblyman Luis Alejo noting the organization was not asked to provide input into the development of AB 155: “The SVWC’s primary purpose is to participate in the various governmental processes…Community participation is an essential element in any project, and critical to obtaining support for that project. Unfortunately the SVWC was not included in the development of a key element to building an inter-lake tunnel project that would benefit the Salinas Valley and the ratepayers of Zone 2C, and that is the drafting of AB 155.” 

Salinas Valley Water Coalition Letter on AB 155

But the Monterey/Santa Cruz Building and Construction Trades Council and State Building and Construction Trades Council were included, from the beginning. 
June 25, 2014

California State Senate Governance and Finance Committee votes 6-1 to pass AB 155, with one Republican voting YES and the other voting NO. On this day it appears that at least two and perhaps three Republicans in the Senate will vote for AB 155, allowing it to pass as an urgency bill.

Assembly Bill 155 – Legislative History

Public Meeting – California State Legislature
June 30, 2014

According to minutes of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors meeting, “Nicole Goehring…questioned whether Directors were aware of the Project Labor Agreement included in AB 155 and behind-the-scenes meetings related to the legislation. Nancy Isakson, Salinas Valley Water Coalition, stated there was nothing on the day’s agenda regarding AB 155. Ms. Isakson noted the legislation passed the Senate Finance Committee and went straight to the Senate floor for consideration as an Urgency Bill at the beginning of August. Ms. Isakson indicated the public should have had an opportunity to openly discuss this legislation and requested updates be provided regarding the status of the Bill.” Agency staff reported to the Board that the agency “is being pushed to enter into a Project Labor Agreement…At this point it is unclear if the Agency can decline in utilization of the legislation…the Bill is not in its original form and staff does not support the changes.”

Relevant Material for June 30, 2014 Board Meeting

Nicole Goehring is the Government Affairs Director for the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. She wrote an op-ed for the Salinas Californian newspaper:“Something Fishy About County Water Agency, AB 155 & PLA”
June 30, 2014

Assemblyman Luis Alejo emails Lew Bauman, Ron Chesshire, John Arriaga, Cesar Diaz, Cesar Lara, Bob Fredenburg, and Tyler Blackney: “I haven’t heard of any progress on a meeting being set up with the Building Trades re the PLA…I am hoping this important matter can get resolved in July before the bill proceeds on the Senate floor in early August. Time is of the essence.”

Alejo also indicates that he will remove the urgency clause from AB 155 so that it can pass with a simple majority vote.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo June 30, 2014 Email – PLA Talks

July 9, 2014

The Salinas River Basin Management Committee of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency votes 4-1 to recommend to the Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors that it withdraw its support for Assembly Bill 155 because of the Project Labor Agreement mandate. Union officials and business representatives speak during public comment. This is the first public vote on AB 155 and the Project Labor Agreement mandate.

Relevant Material for July 9, 2014 Committee Meeting

Public Meeting – Salinas River Basin Management Planning Committee
July 23, 2014

Ron Chesshire emails a 91-page package to the Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors rebutting organizations that criticize Project Labor Agreements.

91 Pages to Save Project Labor Agreement Mandate

July 28, 2014

After a staff presentation and extensive discussion, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency board of directors votes 5-3 to direct agency staff to send a letter to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors asking them to withdraw support for the bill.

Relevant Material for July 28, 2014 Board Meeting

Public Meeting – Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors
August 12, 2014

As it becomes evident that Republican support for AB 155 has withered away because of aggressive lobbying by construction associations, Assemblymember Luis Alijo amends the bill to eliminate the urgency status that requires two-thirds approval in the Assembly and Senate.

Assembly Bill 155 – Legislative History

August 18, 2014

California State Senate approves AB 155 with only one Republican vote in support. The Republican who voted for the bill in the Governance and Finance Committee votes NO on the floor.

A legislative analysis indicates that AB 155 is supported by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union No. 234 and the California State Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO.

Assembly Bill 155 – Legislative History

Public Meeting – California State Legislature
August 28, 2014

California State Assembly approves AB 155 on a party-line vote. No Republican votes for the bill; no Democrat votes against it. The bill goes to Governor Brown.

Assembly Bill 155 – Legislative History

Public Meeting – California State Legislature
September 5, 2014

An article in the Salinas Californian newspaper reports on public records that reveal union backroom threats and deals to get a state-mandated Project Labor Agreement in AB 155.

“Interlake Tunnel Sparks Labor Controversy”

September 13, 2014

An article in the Salinas Californian newspaper reiterates arguments of union officials for a Project Labor Agreement on the Interlake Pipeline Project. Ron Chesshire is quoted as saying the state should require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements “for all public projects as required under state public contract law.” Cesar Lara is quoted as saying “Any public project should have a Project Labor Agreement.” The bold agenda beyond AB 155 is revealed.

“Labor Agreements Key to Monterey County Interlake Tunnel, Unions Say”


Kevin Dayton is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

Watsonville City Council Rejects Accountability Measures in Union Deal

Tonight (August 26, 2014) the Watsonville (California) City Council voted 6-1 to require construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions in the Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building and Construction Trades Council for city projects with a cost exceeding $600,000. The (unsigned) Project Labor Agreement was provided to the city council at the meeting.

The city council also voted 7-0 for a vague adjunct “Memorandum of Understanding” with the Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building and Construction Trades Council about promoting “pre-apprenticeship” training.

This vote was a follow-up to a city council vote on October 8, 2013 to proceed with a Project Labor Agreement policy. (For details, see Watsonville City Council Imposes Requirement for Construction Contractors to Sign Project Labor Agreement with Unions.)

Tied in with the Project Labor Agreement is a Memorandum of Understanding about creating pre-apprenticeship programs.  This MOU was poorly drafted and peppered with flaws:

1. It does not define a pre-apprenticeship program.

2. It establishes an “ultimate goal” for unions to develop a pre-apprenticeship program “for use toward meeting the City’s local hire goal,” but the city’s local hiring ordinance requires “qualified individuals” to be enrolled in a certified state or federally approved apprenticeship program or be classified as journey persons with at least five years experience in their craft. It does not recognize pre-apprenticeship programs.

3. It requires the City of Watsonville to provide the unions with contact information for community groups that “advocate for training in careers to better one’s life.” Why aren’t the unions aware of these groups already? And why doesn’t the MOU simply list local recruitment sources and community organizations acceptable under the city’s local hire ordinance? That ordinance – enacted by the city council in 2002 with backing from the same construction unions – requires contractors on certain public works construction contracts “to make good-faith efforts” to employ local workers “with the assistance of the Employment Development Department, and/or local recruitment sources, and/or local union hiring halls, and/or community organizations designated by the City to hire qualified Tri-County Residents…” Ironically, unions are regarded as one of the groups that advocate for training.

4. It cites alleged data from the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) that “community members” in and around the City of Watsonville showed “significant interest” in entering an apprenticeship program for the construction trades, but insinuates that unions can’t find these people without assistance from the city. Why can’t the unions use the data from this state agency to recruit people for their pre-apprenticeship programs?

5. The City of Watsonville only makes the unions accountable to the MOU to the extent that the unions have to keep a list of individuals who have “gone through the program” and give a report once a year to the city about “how the program has performed.” There is no independent evaluation of the program. Compare this to the local hiring ordinance, which requires contractors to do the following:

…keep, and provide to the City, on forms acceptable to the City, an accurate record documenting the good-faith effort of complying with the provisions of this Chapter. Said records shall include: a listing, by name and address of all local recruitment sources contacted by the contractor, the date of the local recruitment contact and the identity of the person contacted, the trade and classification and number of hire referrals requested, the number of local hires made as a result of the contact, and the identity and address of the person(s) hired pursuant to the contract.

When one city council member and one public speaker suggested that the Memorandum of Understanding should include more provisions for performance accountability, the head of the Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building and Construction Trades Council complained he was being “torpedoed.” Union-backed city council members focused on rhetoric and praised the “innovative,” “groundbreaking,” and “historical” policy. After the vote, some of them posed for photos with the group of union officials who attended the meeting in support of the policies. Look for these photos in the next union newsletters and in future campaign mailers.

Sources

August 26, 2014 Staff Report for City of Watsonville Project Labor Agreement

August 26, 2014 Resolution to Mandate Project Labor Agreement on City of Watsonville Projects with Cost Exceeding $600,000

August 26, 2014 Memorandum of Understanding Between City of Watsonville and Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building and Construction Trades Council

Watsonville Municipal Code Title 7, Chapter 15 – Local Hiring – Contractors Providing Public Works and Public Improvements


Kevin Dayton is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

Monterey County Water Officials Abandon Bill After Unions Reshape It

Any California local government seeking help from the state should know that union lobbyists won’t let the legislature pass anything unless unions have their own interests satisfied in the process. The Monterey County Water Resources Agency learned this lesson the hard way: it has now withdrawn support for its own bill after the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California added its unwanted and unannounced “ornamentation.”

Monterey County Water Resources Agency

A water drop or a teardrop?

This water district wants to build a pipeline between two reservoirs to increase water storage. It needs a special provision in state law to authorize its use of a specific version of “design-build” contracting. Instead of using the traditional design-bid-build contracting process, the agency wants to combine design and construction into one contract and award the contract based on somewhat subjective bidding criteria.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) agreed to gut and amend one of his existing bills (Assembly Bill 155) and create a new bill authorizing the agency to use design-build project delivery for the pipeline. But the authorization comes with a catch: a provision added to the bill requires the design-build entity to sign a Project Labor Agreement with construction unions as a condition of working on the pipeline.

There was never any public deliberation or a vote on this union mandate. And it’s unclear how many people on the elected Monterey County Board of Supervisors, the appointed Monterey County Water Resources Agency board of directors, and the appointed Salinas River Basin Management Planning Committee knew about it. The Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (a construction trade association) requested relevant documents on June 26 under the authority of the California Public Records Act, but the county has delayed providing any records that would reveal details of the backroom deal.

At the state level, Assembly Bill 155 is significant for taxpayers and local governments. It contains the first explicit state mandate for a Project Labor Agreement on a California local government project. Assembly Bill 155 would create a precedent to impose a requirement that all construction companies on local design-build projects sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions.

To subvert the state legislature and bring the fight to the local level, opponents of Project Labor Agreements brought the issue to the attention of the Salinas River Basin Management Planning Committee at its June 18 meeting, during which some limited information was revealed about how this backroom deal was developed. (See excerpt from minutes, below.) At its July 9 meeting, the committee voted 4-1 to recommend to the Monterey County Water Resources Agency board of directors that it withdraw its support for Assembly Bill 155.

On July 28, after a staff presentation and extensive discussion, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency board of directors voted 5-3 to direct agency staff to send a letter to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors asking them to withdraw support for the bill. One board member who voted against the resolution advocated openly for Project Labor Agreements. Speaking in opposition to the withdrawal of support for Assembly Bill 155, an official with the Monterey/Santa Cruz Building and Construction Trades Council claimed that a non-union contractor on a recent agency project submitted excessive change orders.

What was once an optimistic, ambitious opportunity to increase water storage during a severe drought has become a dispute over who gets control of construction work. Unions want a monopoly on this pipeline project, and they have an angle to get it. But local water officials are defying how business is done at the state capitol and making things uncomfortable for the unions and their political allies.

Will unions retaliate against this presumptuous challenge to their political power? Maybe. Three threats are in circulation:

  1. The head of the Monterey/Santa Cruz Building and Construction Trades Council has repeatedly threatened in public comment to sue the Monterey County Water Resources Agency for alleged illegal contracting practices. These threats surfaced after community leaders began questioning the sneaky Project Labor Agreement mandate. The Monterey County counsel’s office doesn’t see any validity to the union claims, but lawsuits are a frequent weapon of unions, which presumably can obtain the money to pay lawyers for aggressive, expensive, time-consuming litigation against a financially-struggling local agency.
  2. Water officials sympathetic to Project Labor Agreements have hinted that Assemblyman Alejo could block future state funding to the agency in his district. This might seem self-destructive, but there is a precedent in California. Democrat state legislators representing the City of San Diego have no qualms about cutting off construction funding to the city after its voters approved an ordinance in June 2011 prohibiting Project Labor Agreements. These legislators voted for Senate Bill 922 and Senate Bill 829, which cut off state funding as a retaliatory measure. Ultimately, these union-backed state legislators want to pressure their San Diego constituents to surrender and vote for another ballot measure that repeals their city’s “Fair and Open Competition” ordinance.
  3. At the July 29 meeting of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Fernando Armento declared that a Project Labor Agreement mandate on county projects was inevitable, sooner or later. It would not be surprising to see a vote for a Project Labor Agreement policy scheduled for an upcoming board meeting to punish brazen advocates of fair and open competition and fiscal responsibility.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Alejo told staff of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency in a meeting on July 7 that he will continue to advance Assembly Bill 155 even if the agency stops supporting it. (Certainly the unions still like it.) With its special “urgency” status, Assembly Bill 155 needs two-thirds approval in the Assembly and in the Senate.

In the Assembly, the Democrat supermajority can pass the bill without any Republican votes. In the Senate, Republican Anthony Cannella – a strong supporter of the construction union agenda who represents the Salinas Valley – is a sponsor of Assembly Bill 155. Another Republican – Steve Knight – voted for the bill in committee, perhaps to seek favor from unions in a general election against Republican Tony Strickland for an open Congressional seat. This bill is on its way to become law.

Minutes of the June 18, 2014 meeting of the Salinas River Basin Management Planning Committee reveal how and why the Project Labor Agreement mandate was added to Assembly Bill 155.

Minutes of the June 18, 2014 meeting of the Salinas River Basin Management Planning Committee reveal how and why the Project Labor Agreement mandate was added to Assembly Bill 155.


Kevin Dayton is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.