Analysis of 2001 Bush Executive Order Allowing Federal Funds for Project Labor Agreements

High Costs of Pro-Union Agreements & Policies Negates Transportation Tax

According to my father, in the 1950s and ’60s, California had the best transportation agency in the entire world. But all that changed with the election of a new, anti-growth, small-is-beautiful governor by the name of Jerry Brown.

Now, fast forward 40 years. Governor Brown, version 2.0, proposes a budget that assumes a big increase in transportation taxes and fees. The California Legislature shouldn’t just say no, it should say hell no.

Where to start? First, let’s take judicial notice of the fact that California is already a high tax state with the highest income tax rate and the highest state sales tax in America. But more relevant for the issue at hand, we also have the highest fuel costs in the nation. This is because of both the 4th highest excise tax on fuel and the fact that refineries are burdened with additional costs to comply with California’s environmental regulations.


Despite analysis findings that Caltrans is overstaffed by 3,500 employees,  the California State Auditor & Senator John Moorlach conclude that the agency is both incompetent and inefficient in the maintenance of California’s roads and highways.


The high cost to drive in California might be understandable if we were getting value for our tax dollars. But we aren’t. A big problem is that Caltrans is dysfunctional, plain and simple. It has never fully recovered from the days when the agency was effectively destroyed by Gianturco. A report by the California State Auditor just a couple of months ago concluded that a primary responsibility of Caltrans – maintenance of our highways – is not being executed in a manner that is even close to being efficient or competent. Senator John Moorlach, the only CPA currently serving in the California legislature, reacted saying that “This audit reinforces the fact that our bad roads are not a result of a lack of funding. They’re a result of a lack of competence at Caltrans.” Moreover, a report by the Legislative Analyst concluded that Caltrans is overstaffed by 3,500 employees costing California taxpayers over a half billion dollars a year. All this compels the obvious question: Why, for goodness sake, do we want to give these people even more money?

Another unneeded and costly practice consists of project labor agreements for transportation construction projects. These pro-union policies shut out otherwise competent companies from bidding on projects resulting in California taxpayers shelling out as high as 25% more than they should for building highways and bridges.

Finally, California’s environmental requirements are legendary for their inefficiency while also doing little for the environment. Exhibit A in this foolishness is Governor Brown’s incomprehensible pursuit of the ill-fated high speed rail project. Not only has the project failed to live up to any of the promises made to voters, it is currently being kept alive only by virtue of the state’s diversion of “cap and trade” funds which are supposed to be expended on projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But in the Kafkaesque world of California transportation policies, the LAO has concluded that the construction of the HSR project actually produces a net increase in emissions, at least for the foreseeable future.

No one disputes the dire need for improvements in California’s transportation infrastructure. But imposing draconian taxes and higher registration fees that serve only to punish the middle class while wasting billions on projects that don’t help getting Californians get to work or school cannot and should not be tolerated. Legislators who present themselves to voters as fiscally responsible need to understand that a vote for higher transportation taxes will engender a very angry response from their constituents.

About the Author: Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Unionize the Personal Assistants to the One-tenth-of-one-percenters

It came as a shock to learn that some of those who were around when unions first started infiltrating local and state governments actually welcomed the process. These were the days when unions were driving jobs overseas because of their unwillingness to negotiate new contracts in the face of foreign competition. “Let them come,” some observers said, “they’ll finally show these politicians what it’s like to try to run a unionized organization.”

We know how that turned out. The unions took over the government. Now they run nearly every city and county in California. Business and finance leaders play ball, or they’re targeted. And where the corpses of bankrupt industries once littered the American landscape, we now face the prospect of bankrupt cities and counties.

So here’s a modest proposal: Let’s embrace the process. Forget about the fight for a $15 minimum wage. That’s small thinking. Forget about unionizing home care professionals. That’s retail politics. Let’s aim for the pinnacles of power. Let’s force the elite of the elite to embrace unions where they live. Let’s force them to see what it’s like to run a unionized organization – their own household. Let’s unionize personal assistants to the super rich.

Here are a few guiding principles:

(1)  Rotating staff chosen by union. You cannot keep the personal assistants you’ve worked with for decades. Just as businesses that submit to project labor agreements must contact the union to send personnel of their choice to operate their equipment, the ultra-rich will have to contact the Personal Assistant’s Union (PAU) to fulfill their household staffing needs.

(2)  Negotiation required for each narrowly defined job description. Just as school teachers are unable to supervise playground activities, or municipal workers must call in a separate individual to, for example, move a piece of furniture, the ultra-rich will need to hire a separate individual for each household task. Shopping? Cleaning? Cooking? Balancing the checkbook? Each of these and countless other tasks will require a separate employee.

(3)  Pre-clearance for all new jobs. Whenever an ultra-rich person wishes to add a new responsibility to their unionized household staff, they will need to negotiate with the union (PAU) to define the job and the compensation. If they wish one of their existing staff members to add this job to their responsibilities, they will have to clear that with the union bureaucracy.

(4)  Mandatory diversity in all hiring. In the interests of justice and equity, the ultra-rich will be required to staff their households with individuals from diverse backgrounds, with preference going to members of protected status groups. For example, if a personal assistant sent by the union does not speak English, the employer will have to also hire a translator. And, of course, accommodations will be required for any personal assistants who have disabilities or special religious needs. Can these assistants bring their therapy dogs, cats, turtles? Of course. Allergic to cats? Take a pill. It’s a therapy cat.

(5)  Volunteer support is prohibited. The ultra-rich will not be permitted to allow their friends or loved ones to perform jobs that have been assigned to their personal assistants. While exemptions can be granted, for example if a family member wishes to bake a birthday cake for another family member, they will have to clear this in advance with the Personal Assistant’s Union (PAU). They will have to prove familial ties, and contribute to a fund to compensate those workers who will be displaced by this usurpation of their job duties.

(6)  Mandatory means testing to determine billing rates. Just as wealthy people pay more for traffic tickets in Scandinavia than poor people do, the wealthy will have to pay their fair share to employ personal assistants. The Personal Assistant’s Union (PAU) will set a base hourly rate for personal assistants based on the average net worth of a U.S. household. Wealthy people in the U.S. will pay their unionized staff a multiple of that rate based on their actual net worth.

Here are some examples of how means testing will work:  Using 2013 as a base year, the median net worth of a U.S. household is $63,800. People in these households will pay their personal assistants $15.00 per hour. The household of Bill and Hillary Clinton, by contrast, with an estimated net worth of $111 million, will pay their personal assistants $26,097 per hour. California’s fabled financier turned activist Tom Steyer, with an estimated net worth of $1.16 billion, will have to pay his unionized personal assistants $378,527 per hour. And good old Donald Trump? If the Wikipedia estimate is correct, he’s worth $4 billion, so he’ll be paying his unionized personal assistants $940,439 per hour.

Of course these personal assistants won’t see all that money. They will get $15 per hour. The excess will be used to pay the executive team running the Personal Assistants Union, who will, of course, be exempt from means testing when they pay their personal assistants.

Unionize personal assistants to the super-rich! That’s a bipartisan bit of “sample legislation” that everyone can get behind! Maybe it will finally show the one-percent-of-the-one-percent what it’s like to try to run a unionized organization.

 *   *   *

Ed Ring is the president of the California Policy Center.

Unions Fill Power Vacuum at Obscure California Regional Government

On June 7, 2016, voters in nine California counties in the San Francisco Bay Area will vote on a proposal (Measure AA) to annually assess a $12 tax on every property parcel. This tax would apply equally to each parcel, ranging in assessed property value from Google headquarters in Mountain View to a $30,000 trailer in Vallejo.

San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Parcel Tax Ballot QuestionThe tax money would go to the obscure Oakland-based San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, established in 2008 by state law as a regional agency. Regional governments are increasingly popular in California, in part because state laws such as the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32) and Senate Bill 975 (2008) are compelling local governments to collaborate on public policy.

Governed by officials appointed by local governments, these regional governments often lack press oversight and public accountability. That creates a power vacuum that groups eager for taxpayer funding can fill for their own advantage. Construction unions have seized the opportunity.

In the case of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, union Building Trades Councils of the nine affected counties want to control future construction contracts funded by this parcel tax. On February 24, 2016, the board of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority considered a policy requiring construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of working on contracts greater than $100,000 funded by the proposed parcel tax.

San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority governing board

San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority governing board gets ready to praise Project Labor Agreements at its February 24, 2016 meeting.

In front of a full room of union officials from the entire region, almost every Bay Restoration Authority board member expressed strong support for a government mandate for construction contractors to obtain their workforce (including apprentices) from the union hiring hall and make all employee fringe benefit payments to union health care and pension funds. One board member dared to assert that the parcel tax was actually about Bay restoration and not labor unions. She also questioned how the union deal would affect volunteer organizations. But in the end, she voted with the rest of the board to proceed with continued development of the Project Labor Agreement policy.

Objections came from construction business associations, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the Contra Costa (County) Taxpayers Association, Ducks Unlimited, a construction company based in Sonoma that specializes in wetlands restoration projects, and one ordinary citizen from El Sobrante. The board voted to create an ad hoc committee to work with the Santa Clara Valley Water District and Ducks Unlimited to neutralize their opposition to the Project Labor Agreement.

Why is this regional agency implementing a Project Labor Agreement policy? Some of the union love is ideological and some of it is based on politics back at the local governments of the appointed board members. Much of it is presumably intended to convince the unions to provide major financial and organizational help to the Measure AA campaign to convince voters to approve the parcel tax.

Union campaign assistance is needed because of one major obstacle to voter passage of the $12 annual parcel tax: under Proposition 13 (approved by state voters in 1978), a two-thirds supermajority of all voters in the nine Bay Area counties must approve the tax increase. This threshold will be difficult to exceed, even in a region that strongly supports environmental causes. Both the Left and the Right have reasons to reject this tax.

In addition, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority has a logistical challenge in putting one tax measure on the ballot in nine different counties. This is an unprecedented effort that has provoked many legal questions and required significant interaction with county election officials. (Unlike the opposition to the Measure AA parcel tax, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority has taxpayer funds to get answers to legal questions.)

Big corporations (such as Pacific Gas and Electric) are eagerly supporting this regressive property tax, as it gives them an image of environmental activism while putting the burden of paying for the restoration on ordinary homeowners who had nothing to do with degrading San Francisco Bay in the first place. Nevertheless, union activism will also be needed to overcome voter resistance to sending their tax money to an obscure agency in Oakland.

A Project Labor Agreement locks in that union support. But could it backfire on the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority?

Ironically, the board’s decision to give unions monopoly control over the construction contract workforce has inspired the development of organized opposition to the parcel tax. It also creates for voters a clearly identifiable example of insider politics, favoritism for special interest groups, and fiscal irresponsibility.

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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

Unions Pester Community Choice Aggregation Energy Programs in California

Where there is innovation, there is union interference.

Marin Clean Energy, the first “Community Choice Aggregation” program in California, is planning to build a solar farm on a “brownfield” in the City of Richmond. Only one party objected to the project on environmental grounds: “Bay Area Citizens for Responsible Solar,” a front group for California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE).

It’s just the latest in a series of environmental objections by unions to bend the policies of Community Choice Aggregators.

What Are Community Choice Aggregation Programs?

Community Choice Aggregation programs are authorized in California by Assembly Bill 117, signed into law by Governor Gray Davis in 2002. The concept was elaborated in Senate Bill 790, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2011. The California Public Utilities Commission regulates Community Choice Aggregation.

These programs allow electric customers to circumvent buying power from major investor-owned public utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E). Instead, customers purchase electricity bought or generated by government-run utilities organized as a “Joint Powers Authority.”

Investor-owned utilities maintain transmission and distribution infrastructure and perform other services for customers. When a local government joins a Community Choice Aggregation program, electric customers in that jurisdiction are automatically transferred to that program unless the customer pro-actively chooses to opt-out and remain with the investor-owned utility.

Community Choice Aggregators are independently managed and directed by an appointed board that represents participating local governments. For example, the board of Marin Clean Energy includes representatives of the following governments now participating in the program: the Marin County cities of Novato, Corte Madera, Fairfax, San Anselmo, Larkspur, Belvedere, San Rafael, Tiburon, Ross, Mill Valley, and Sausalito; the Solano County city of Benicia; the Contra Costa County cities of Richmond, El Cerrito, and San Pablo; the County of Marin, and unincorporated parts of the County of Napa. Other cities in the San Francisco Bay Area are in the process of joining the program, and they will have representation on the board.

Programs such as Marin Clean Energy market themselves as having lower rates and generating more power from “renewable” energy sources, such as solar, wind, bioenergy, geothermal, and small hydro. Marin Clean Energy claimed that in January 2016 its generation rates were 14% lower on average than PG&E’s generation rates and would have been even lower without a “Power Charge Indifference Adjustment” (PCIA) fee charged to customers who do not choose to remain with PG&E.

Community Choice Aggregation Is a Juicy Target for the Left

As shown by the California High-Speed Rail project, any ambitious project or program proposed in California is immediately targeted by numerous leftist interest groups that see an opportunity to advance their agenda. From the beginning, unions targeted Community Choice Aggregation programs as a vehicle to organize the “renewable energy” workforce through a so-called “Blue-Green Alliance.”

A Genuine California Union ConspiracyIn fact, Senate Bill 790 included an obscure provision – added at the demand of union lobbyists – to allow ratepayer money to be diverted into Labor-Management Cooperation Committees that fund environmental objections to energy projects and make massive contributions to campaigns to pass or defeat ballot measures.

See the October 18, 2012 UnionWatch article Mysterious Union Slush Fund Spends $100,000 Against Costa Mesa Charter, featuring a link to the TheTruthAboutPLAs article A Genuine California Union Conspiracy: Senate Bill 790 and the California Building Trades Council’s Ratepayer Funded Political Slush Fund, which links to the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction’s “Investigative Report: A Genuine Union Conspiracy.”

In 2012, the California Construction Industry Labor Management Trust (“CILMT”) began submitting comments to the California Public Utilities Commission about proposed regulations for Community Choice Aggregators.

Unions Don’t Like Competition

Marin Clean Energy has been targeted by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union 1245, which represents employees at Pacific Gas & Electric. This union argued that the Community Choice Aggregation programs would harm the environment by buying power from Shell Energy North America, which generates more than 90% of its power from non-renewable sources, including coal. For example, in a June 4, 2014 letter to the Napa County Board of Supervisors, IBEW Local 1245 demanded that the Napa County Board of Supervisors prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) before joining Marin Clean Energy.

June 4, 2014 Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo Demand EIR on behalf of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers IBEW Local 1245 – Marin Clean Energy – County of Napa

IBEW Local 1245 also targeted the CleanPowerSF Community Choice Aggregation program and demanded an Environmental Impact Report before the implementation of that program:

August 13, 2013 San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Meeting Minutes – CleanPowerSF Community Choice Aggregation – International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers IBEW Local 1245 Objections

January 30, 2013 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers IBEW Local 1245 – Community Choice Aggregation Needs Close Scrutiny

What unions really want is a Project Labor Agreement.

If You Plan to Build a Solar Plant in California, Expect Union Hassles

A position paper of the “East Bay Clean Power Alliance” entitled “Promoting a Labor-friendly Alameda County Community Choice Energy Program” calls for all construction under a Project Labor Agreement and explains how Community Choice Aggregation programs would bring construction workers into a union:

As a public program, it can prioritize public good over profit, and work with unions to generate high-road, family-sustaining jobs, utilize union apprenticeship and other entry-level job programs, and offer pathways out of poverty, especially in low income communities…A Community Choice energy program can be a unique vehicle for opening up the largely non-union community-based energy sector to union employment. This is possible because of the program’s ability to set work standards and also to aggregate smaller installation projects into larger projects more amenable to union labor agreements.

The idea is that a Community Choice Aggregation program would negotiate a Project Labor Agreement with California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE), a Sacramento-based coalition of  unions, to cover all solar construction and maintenance, large and small.

Marin Clean Energy Is Targeted with Greenmail

According to the Marin Clean Energy website, “many local solar projects are under development in MCE’s service area including MCE Solar One, Cooley Quarry, Buck Institute, and Cost Plus.” A company signatory to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers won the contract to build the Buck Institute solar project.

MCE Solar One is the biggest solar plant proposed by Marin Clean Energy: a 10.5 megawatt project to be built on a 49-acre landfill site near a refinery in Richmond owned by Chevron. According to the Marin Clean Energy website, “Local communities are gearing up for construction of the largest publicly owned solar project in the Bay Area!”

Not so fast.

Unions were targeting this project, as shown through public comment at an August 19, 2015 community meeting about the project. On September 29, 2015, a group called “Bay Area Citizens for Responsible Solar” submitted a 31-page letter plus expert testimony and exhibits objecting under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for MCE Solar One, also known as the Richmond Solar PV Project. What sounds like a community environmental organization is actually a front group for California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE).

September 29, 2015 Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo – DEIR Comments – Richmond Solar PV Project – Marin Clean Energy Community Choice Aggregation – Letter

September 29, 2015 Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo – DEIR Comments – Richmond Solar PV Project – Marin Clean Energy Community Choice Aggregation – Exhibits

Staff wasn’t impressed, as shown in the response to the union comments:

September 29, 2015 Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo – DEIR Comments – Richmond Solar PV Project – Marin Clean Energy Community Choice Aggregation – Staff Response

Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardoza Objects to FEIR - Richmond Solar PV Project - Marin Clean EnergyAs is typical with union environmental objections, attorneys for California Unions for Reliable Energy submitted another round of comments at the last minute objecting to the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR). After examining the documents at the November 19, 2015 meeting of the Marin Clean Energy board, legal counsel declared that the late submissions contained nothing new of concern. The board unanimously approved the FEIR.

One board member said “it is a sad day that CEQA has really become less and less about the environment and more and more about power. Governor Brown has tried to address this with reform to CEQA and this item follows that direction.”

November 19, 2015 Marin Clean Energy Board Minutes – Approval of FEIR for Richmond Solar PV Project

Don’t count on that reform coming anytime soon.

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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

California Construction Unions Saved the Planet Again in 2015

California construction trade unions continue to protect the environment from the scourges of renewable energy and infill development. A chart below provides examples of their achievements for the planet in 2015.

Meanwhile, 2015 ends with the annual chatter at the state capitol that “maybe next year” will be the year that the California legislature amends the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to end such nonsense. Inspiring this goal for 2016 is an August 2015 study, In the Name of the Environment: Litigation Abuse Under CEQA, which provides new evidence about the distortion of this law by unscrupulous parties.

California’s environmental laws give the public significant authority in ensuring that state agencies and local governments appropriately protect the environment when considering new projects or programs. Allowing the public to play a key role in environmental protection is a check and balance against government ignorance, incompetence, and corruption.

But giving the public a legal role in environmental protection provides a powerful weapon for organizations or individuals who have selfish or ideologicial motivations to prevent construction. It also allows businesses to hinder the growth and prosperity of their competition. And it gives organizations an opportunity to extort private developers and public agencies into making payouts or granting economic concessions that aren’t related to environmental protection. (This practice is sometimes called “greenmail” because it is blackmail using environmental laws.)

The most-feared wielders of California’s environmental laws are labor unions. If you doubt this, note over the years how often corporations and business groups condemn all kinds of CEQA abuse in public without ever mentioning unions as a chief ringleader of the practice. A typical example is this April 15, 2015 op-ed in the San Diego Union-TribuneCEQA Reform: Don’t Allow Gaming of the System.

A deal is announced to end union environmental objections to the Phase 3 construction of the San Diego Convention Center. The project was never built.

A deal is announced to end union environmental objections to the Phase 3 construction of the San Diego Convention Center. The project was never built.

A reader would not learn that one of the most aggressive advocates of union CEQA abuse victimized one of the co-authors of that op-ed with one of the most notorious examples of union CEQA abuse. Read the story at Finally Got It! Secret Union Deal for San Diego Convention Center.

The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (with its front group California Unions for Reliable Energy, or CURE) remains the primary obstacle to CEQA reform, not environmentalists or even other unions that routinely use CEQA to win concessions. They are the gatekeepers to CEQA exemptions granted for government agencies and private developers. Two kinds of projects have risen above state environmental protection: major league professional sports facilities and high-speed rail. It is not coincidental that construction trade unions have Project Labor Agreements or Project Labor Agreement commitments on such work.

Here’s a chart of construction union activity in 2015 involving the California Environmental Quality Act or the Warren-Alquist Act (for power plant licensing at the California Energy Commission).


Table A-1California K-12 School Districts Ranked by
1Los Angeles Unified School District646,683
2San Diego Unified School District129,779
3Garden Grove Unified School District92,354
4Long Beach Unified School District79,709
5Fresno Unified School District73,543
6Elk Grove Unified School District62,888
7San Francisco Unified School District58,414
8Santa Ana Unified School District56,815
9Capistrano Unified School District54,036
10Corona-Norco Unified School District53,739
11San Bernardino City Unified School District53,365
12San Juan Unified School District49,114
13Oakland Unified School District48,077
14Sacramento City Unified School District46,868
15Riverside Unified School District42,339
16Clovis Unified School District41,169
17Sweetwater Union High School District41,018
18Stockton Unified School District40,057
19Fontana Unified School District39,470
20Kern High School District37,318
21Poway Unified School District35,629
22Fremont Unified School District34,208
23Moreno Valley Unified School District34,170
24San Jose Unified School District32,938
25San Ramon Valley Unified School District31,954
26Mt. Diablo Unified School District31,923
27Anaheim Union High School District31,659
28Irvine Unified School District31,392
29Twin Rivers Unified School District31,035
30West Contra Costa Unified School District30,596
31Lodi Unified School District30,349
32Bakersfield City School District30,076
33Temecula Valley Unified School District30,016
34Chino Valley Unified School District29,937
35Chula Vista Elementary School District29,806
36Orange Unified School District29,473
37Montebello Unified School District29,062
38Saddleback Valley Unified School District29,028
39Desert Sands Unified School District28,999
40Visalia Unified School District28,267
41William S. Hart Union High School District26,983
42East Side Union High School District26,760
43Rialto Unified School District26,225
44Glendale Unified School District26,168
45Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District25,595
46Vista Unified School District25,377
47Pomona Unified School District25,311
48Antelope Valley Union High School District24,619
49Chaffey Joint Union High School District24,598
50Tustin Unified School District24,059
51Torrance Unified School District23,947
52Hesperia Unified School District23,735
53Palm Springs Unified School District23,332
54Colton Joint Unified School District23,322
55Manteca Unified School District23,188
56Downey Unified School District22,698
57Murrieta Valley Unified School District22,698
58Hayward Unified School District22,555
59Ontario-Montclair School District22,521
60Lake Elsinore Unified School District22,258
61Grossmont Union High School District22,220
62Compton Unified School District22,106
63Palmdale Elementary School District21,956
64Newport-Mesa Unified School District21,905
65Hemet Unified School District21,414
66Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District21,366
67Redlands Unified School District21,326
68ABC Unified School District20,998
69Oceanside Unified School District20,980
70San Marcos Unified School District20,452
71Pajaro Valley Unified School District20,438
72Madera Unified School District20,415
73Val Verde Unified School District19,841
74Conejo Valley Unified School District19,727
75Hacienda la Puente Unified School District19,642
76Folsom-Cordova Unified School District19,527
77Alvord Unified School District19,390
78Jurupa Unified School District19,330
79Escondido Union School District19,204
80Anaheim City School District19,164
81Cupertino Union School District19,079
82Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District18,960
83Coachella Valley Unified School District18,878
84Napa Valley Unified School District18,610
85Pasadena Unified School District18,586
86Antioch Unified School District18,352
87Baldwin Park Unified School District18,316
88Simi Valley Unified School District17,821
89Alhambra Unified School District17,617
90Panama-Buena Vista Union School District17,469
91Ventura Unified School District17,366
92Oxnard Union High School District17,148
93Tracy Joint Unified School District16,935
94Oxnard School District16,916
95Cajon Valley Union School District16,601
96Huntington Beach Union High School District16,343
97Burbank Unified School District16,332
98Santa Maria-Bonita School District16,026
99Paramount Unified School District15,681
100Santa Barbara Unified School District15,593
101Central Unified School District15,584
102Santa Clara Unified School District15,298
103Modesto City Elementary School District15,259
104Lancaster Elementary School District15,149
105Rowland Unified School District15,055
106Vallejo City Unified School District14,996
107Modesto City High School District14,969
108Lynwood Unified School District14,776
109Pleasanton Unified School District14,768
110Walnut Valley Unified School District14,532
111Salinas Union High School District14,437
112Apple Valley Unified School District14,401
113Fullerton Joint Union High School District14,396
114West Covina Unified School District14,213
115Turlock Unified School District14,127
116Porterville Unified School District14,119
117Victor Valley Union High School District13,889
118Chico Unified School District13,739
119Ceres Unified School District13,694
120Fullerton Elementary School District13,678
121Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District13,653
122Etiwanda Elementary School District13,652
123Natomas Unified School District13,630
124Inglewood Unified School District13,469
125Yuba City Unified School District13,366
126Bellflower Unified School District13,149
127Whittier Union High School District12,983
128Evergreen Elementary School District12,857
129Vacaville Unified School District12,837
130Rocklin Unified School District12,738
131San Dieguito Union High School District12,645
132Palo Alto Unified School District12,527
133New Haven Unified School District12,459
134Alum Rock Union Elementary School District12,386
135Covina-Valley Unified School District12,274
136Victor Elementary School District12,181
137La Mesa-Spring Valley School District12,144
138San Lorenzo Unified School District12,070
139San Mateo-Foster City School District11,858
140Gilroy Unified School District11,840
141Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District11,632
142Upland Unified School District11,380
143Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District11,289
144Las Virgenes Unified School District11,259
145Santa Rosa High School District11,244
146Sanger Unified School District11,204
147Franklin-McKinley Elementary School District11,193
148Carlsbad Unified School District11,049
149Alameda Unified School District11,020
150Menifee Union Elementary School District11,011
151Pittsburg Unified School District10,969
152Oak Grove Elementary School District10,921
153Fremont Union High School District10,792
154Merced City Elementary School District10,788
155Lucia Mar Unified School District10,710
156San Jacinto Unified School District10,698
157Monterey Peninsula Unified School District10,653
158Perris Union High School District10,510
159Berkeley Unified School District10,442
160Adelanto Elementary School District10,378
161Milpitas Unified School District10,281
162Los Banos Unified School District10,260
163Roseville Joint Union High School District10,223
164Bonita Unified School District10,146
165Lompoc Unified School District10,076
166Woodland Joint Unified School District10,055
167Merced Union High School District10,039
168Los Alamitos Unified School District9,914
169Saugus Union School District9,911
170Roseville City Elementary School District9,820
171Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District9,779
172Kings Canyon Joint Unified School District9,775
173Sequoia Union High School District9,693
174Marysville Joint Unified School District9,647
175Arcadia Unified School District9,582
176Westminster School District9,503
177Tulare City School District9,497
178Escondido Union High School District9,442
179Morongo Unified School District9,439
180El Monte Union High School District9,388
181Redondo Beach Unified School District9,364
182Castro Valley Unified School District9,361
183Greenfield Union School District9,345
184Azusa Unified School District9,277
185Lincoln Unified School District9,277
186Calexico Unified School District9,263
187Beaumont Unified School District9,256
188Alisal Union School District9,153
189Dublin Unified School District9,151
190El Rancho Unified School District9,129
191Salinas City Elementary School District9,125
192Western Placer Unified School District9,116
193South San Francisco Unified School District9,111
194East Whittier City Elementary School District9,064
195Redwood City Elementary School District9,042
196El Monte City School District9,031
197Ocean View School District9,010
198Morgan Hill Unified School District9,000
199Westside Union Elementary School District8,941
200Hawthorne School District8,809
201Davis Joint Unified School District8,626
202San Leandro Unified School District8,617
203Sylvan Union Elementary School District8,565
204Brentwood Union Elementary School District8,562
205Hueneme Elementary School District8,396
206San Mateo Union High School District8,321
207Liberty Union High School District8,087
208Novato Unified School District8,029
209Washington Unified School District7,978
210Centinela Valley Union High School District7,878
211Snowline Joint Unified School District7,826
212Santa Maria Joint Union High School District7,782
213Berryessa Union Elementary School District7,758
214Glendora Unified School District7,733
215South Bay Union School District7,646
216Campbell Union School District7,642
217San Luis Coastal Unified School District7,636
218Delano Union Elementary School District7,600
219Campbell Union High School District7,453
220Pleasant Valley School District7,401
221Mountain View Elementary School District7,345
222Jefferson Elementary School District7,111
223Claremont Unified School District7,046
224Lennox School District7,022
225Manhattan Beach Unified School District6,890
226Huntington Beach City Elementary School District6,864
227El Dorado Union High School District6,810
228Sunnyvale School District6,787
229Culver City Unified School District6,757
230Newhall School District6,739
231Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District6,715
232Moorpark Unified School District6,703
233Dinuba Unified School District6,580
234Paso Robles Joint Unified School District6,555
235Santee School District6,472
236Selma Unified School District6,447
237San Gabriel Unified School District6,410
238Magnolia Elementary School District6,403
239Ukiah Unified School District6,349
240Fountain Valley Elementary School District6,305
241Lawndale Elementary School District6,300
242Newark Unified School District6,196
243Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District6,145
244Lakeside Union Elementary School District6,135
245Whittier City Elementary School District6,124
246El Centro Elementary School District6,101
247Patterson Joint Unified School District6,024
248Brea-Olinda Unified School District5,977
249Temple City Unified School District5,953
250Hanford Elementary School District5,934
251Barstow Unified School District5,920
252Alta Loma Elementary School District5,917
253Monrovia Unified School District5,903
254National Elementary School District5,829
255Perris Elementary School District5,821
256Ramona City Unified School District5,697
257Hollister School District5,669
258Shasta Union High School District5,561
259Union Elementary School District5,533
260Santa Rosa Elementary School District5,466
261Santa Paula Unified School District5,459
262Encinitas Union Elementary School District5,445
263Sulphur Springs Union School District5,437
264Windsor Unified School District5,415
265Acalanes Union High School District5,402
266Travis Unified School District5,398
267Petaluma Joint Union High School District5,397
268Rosedale Union Elementary School District5,397
269Tulare Joint Union High School District5,325
270Oakdale Joint Unified School District5,292
271Orcutt Union Elementary School District5,269
272Charter Oak Unified School District5,158
273Buckeye Union Elementary School District5,157
274Fallbrook Union Elementary School District5,113
275Mountain View Whisman School District5,065
276Garvey Elementary School District5,051
277La Habra City Elementary School District5,022
278Kerman Unified School District4,997
279Buena Park Elementary School District4,985
280Oakley Union Elementary School District4,946
281Rio Elementary School District4,946
282Sierra Sands Unified School District4,944
283Benicia Unified School District4,924
284Soledad Unified School District4,915
285Jefferson Union High School District4,906
286Atwater Elementary School District4,855
287San Ysidro Elementary School District4,842
288Moreland School District4,825
289South Pasadena Unified School District4,767
290Santa Cruz City High School District4,731
291Atascadero Unified School District4,722
292Central Elementary School District4,701
293Oak Park Unified School District4,693
294Los Altos Elementary School District4,675
295San Rafael City Elementary School District4,635
296Sonoma Valley Unified School District4,635
297San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District4,613
298Banning Unified School District4,599
299New Jerusalem Elementary School District4,536
300Center Joint Unified School District4,533
301Little Lake City Elementary School District4,512
302North Monterey County Unified School District4,493
303Centralia Elementary School District4,491
304Del Mar Union Elementary School District4,399
305Coalinga-Huron Unified School District4,367
306Burton Elementary School District4,347
307Tehachapi Unified School District4,272
308Paradise Unified School District4,265
309Delano Joint Union High School District4,235
310Martinez Unified School District4,221
311Ravenswood City Elementary School District4,216
312Beverly Hills Unified School District4,212
313Tamalpais Union High School District4,165
314Lindsay Unified School District4,163
315Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District4,155
316Julian Union Elementary School District4,142
317Placer Union High School District4,137
318Central Union High School District4,106
319Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District4,083
320Wiseburn Unified School District4,065
321La Canada Unified School District4,058
322Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District4,043
323Norris Elementary School District4,041
324Cypress Elementary School District3,990
325Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District3,978
326Bassett Unified School District3,959
327Waterford Unified School District3,954
328Lemon Grove School District3,922
329Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District3,900
330Imperial Unified School District3,898
331Duarte Unified School District3,896
332Albany City Unified School District3,881
333Lake Tahoe Unified School District3,881
334Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District3,881
335Brawley Elementary School District3,878
336Oro Grande Elementary School District3,857
337Gateway Unified School District3,853
338Hanford Joint Union High School District3,845
339Amador County Unified School District3,825
340Dixon Unified School District3,808
341Mountain Empire Unified School District3,804
342Fillmore Unified School District3,774
343Eureka City Schools3,722
344Goleta Union Elementary School District3,701
345Rescue Union Elementary School District3,700
346Rim of the World Unified School District3,695
347Galt Joint Union Elementary School District3,693
348Ripon Unified School District3,680
349Loomis Union Elementary School District3,636
350Rincon Valley Union Elementary School District3,632
351Enterprise Elementary School District3,622
352Walnut Creek Elementary School District3,608
353Wasco Union Elementary School District3,584
354Richland Union Elementary School District3,530
355Lafayette Elementary School District3,525
356Romoland Elementary School District3,505
357Del Norte County Unified School District3,502
358El Segundo Unified School District3,477
359McFarland Unified School District3,469
360San Carlos Elementary School District3,457
361Greenfield Union Elementary School District3,448
362Redding Elementary School District3,440
363Lammersville Joint Unified School District3,433
364Parlier Unified School District3,418
365Cambrian School District3,378
366Cabrillo Unified School District3,373
367Eastside Union Elementary School District3,353
368Eureka Union School District3,338
369Los Gatos Union Elementary School District3,320
370Burlingame Elementary School District3,304
371Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District3,302
372Corcoran Joint Unified School District3,293
373Santa Rita Union Elementary School District3,292
374Stanislaus Union Elementary School District3,292
375Fruitvale Elementary School District3,259
376Mill Valley Elementary School District3,242
377Lemoore Union Elementary School District3,228
378Lowell Joint School District3,209
379Spencer Valley Elementary School District3,205
380Palo Verde Unified School District3,177
381Coronado Unified School District3,169
382South Whittier Elementary School District3,153
383Pacifica School District3,150
384Mendota Unified School District3,146
385Solana Beach Elementary School District3,146
386San Marino Unified School District3,143
387Konocti Unified School District3,130
388Standard Elementary School District3,121
389Arvin Union School District3,101
390Calaveras Unified School District3,079
391Laguna Beach Unified School District3,074
392Southern Kern Unified School District3,043
393Empire Union Elementary School District3,034
394Nevada Joint Union High School District3,003
395San Benito High School District3,003
396Washington Unified School District2,993
397Exeter Unified School District2,979
398Lamont Elementary School District2,958
399Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District2,946
400Lucerne Valley Unified School District2,921
401Menlo Park City Elementary School District2,904
402Nuview Union School District2,894
403Escalon Unified School District2,849
404Riverbank Unified School District2,835
405Dehesa Elementary School District2,809
406San Bruno Park Elementary School District2,796
407Weaver Union School District2,796
408Roseland School District2,755
409Piedmont City Unified School District2,706
410Mojave Unified School District2,696
411Delhi Unified School District2,686
412Ocean View School District2,682
413Ojai Unified School District2,680
414Oroville City Elementary School District2,678
415Rosemead Elementary School District2,668
416Keppel Union Elementary School District2,641
417Farmersville Unified School District2,626
418King City Union School District2,623
419Mountain View Elementary School District2,611
420Reef-Sunset Unified School District2,606
421Livingston Union School District2,602
422Salida Union Elementary School District2,576
423Castaic Union School District2,568
424Orinda Union Elementary School District2,529
425Cucamonga Elementary School District2,517
426Mt. Pleasant Elementary School District2,502
427Carmel Unified School District2,492
428Templeton Unified School District2,487
429Scotts Valley Unified School District2,482
430Fowler Unified School District2,477
431Gonzales Unified School District2,477
432Millbrae Elementary School District2,469
433Bear Valley Unified School District2,453
434Fallbrook Union High School District2,439
435Maricopa Unified School District2,438
436Jefferson Elementary School District2,425
437Fairfax Elementary School District2,412
438River Delta Joint Unified School District2,404
439Savanna Elementary School District2,392
440Petaluma City Elementary School District2,379
441San Rafael City High School District2,365
442Santa Cruz City Elementary School District2,361
443Lemoore Union High School District2,340
444Kingsburg Elementary Charter School District2,334
445Ross Valley Elementary School District2,320
446Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District2,296
447Woodlake Unified School District2,291
448Bonsall Unified School District2,287
449Marcum-Illinois Union Elementary School District2,283
450Linden Unified School District2,278
451Silver Valley Unified School District2,278
452Dos Palos Oro Loma Joint Unified School District2,277
453Oroville Union High School District2,272
454Galt Joint Union High School District2,263
455Orland Joint Unified School District2,254
456Hilmar Unified School District2,253
457Carpinteria Unified School District2,239
458Robla Elementary School District2,231
459Chowchilla Elementary School District2,190
460Red Bluff Union Elementary School District2,163
461Hughson Unified School District2,146
462Plumas Unified School District2,130
463Live Oak Elementary School District2,108
464Taft City School District2,079
465Saratoga Union Elementary School District2,069
466West Sonoma County Union High School District2,069
467Auburn Union Elementary School District2,060
468Soquel Union Elementary School District2,054
469Gridley Unified School District2,051
470Gorman Elementary School District2,050
471Corning Union Elementary School District2,043
472South Monterey County Joint Union High School District2,033
473Pacific Grove Unified School District2,012
474Dixie Elementary School District1,999
475Yosemite Unified School District1,982
476Byron Union Elementary School District1,963
477Helendale Elementary School District1,959
478Earlimart Elementary School District1,952
479Willits Unified School District1,942
480Bishop Unified School District1,939
481Muroc Joint Unified School District1,936
482Golden Valley Unified School District1,923
483Old Adobe Union School District1,886
484Anderson Union High School District1,885
485Winton School District1,885
486Brawley Union High School District1,878
487Fort Bragg Unified School District1,873
488Bellevue Union Elementary School District1,872
489Gustine Unified School District1,863
490Moraga Elementary School District1,852
491Alpine Union Elementary School District1,845
492Newcastle Elementary School District1,844
493Golden Plains Unified School District1,831
494Mariposa County Unified School District1,806
495Armona Union Elementary School District1,804
496Los Nietos School District1,767
497Live Oak Unified School District1,757
498Beardsley Elementary School District1,753
499Central Union Elementary School District1,748
500Wasco Union High School District1,747
501Northern Humboldt Union High School District1,739
502Grass Valley Elementary School District1,733
503John Swett Unified School District1,699
504Kelseyville Unified School District1,681
505Middletown Unified School District1,667
506Healdsburg Unified School District1,650
507Wright Elementary School District1,622
508Riverdale Joint Unified School District1,620
509Red Bluff Joint Union High School District1,601
510Holtville Unified School District1,597
511Pioneer Union Elementary School District1,577
512Lakeport Unified School District1,556
513Hillsborough City Elementary School District1,546
514Reed Union Elementary School District1,546
515Winters Joint Unified School District1,521
516Larkspur-Corte Madera School District1,504
517Hermosa Beach City Elementary School District1,479
518Colusa Unified School District1,456
519Pierce Joint Unified School District1,443
520Willows Unified School District1,443
521Mark West Union Elementary School District1,433
522Caruthers Unified School District1,428
523Piner-Olivet Union Elementary School District1,419
524Thermalito Union Elementary School District1,409
525Cloverdale Unified School District1,394
526Las Lomitas Elementary School District1,386
527Mesa Union Elementary School District1,385
528Fortuna Elementary School District1,381
529Williams Unified School District1,377
530McCabe Union Elementary School District1,368
531Wheatland School District1,341
532Wilsona Elementary School District1,333
533Black Oak Mine Unified School District1,314
534Sierra Unified School District1,309
535Denair Unified School District1,293
536Twin Hills Union Elementary School District1,286
537Guadalupe Union Elementary School District1,282
538Palermo Union Elementary School District1,275
539Lakeside Union School District1,274
540Saint Helena Unified School District1,269
541Placerville Union Elementary School District1,249
542Heber Elementary School District1,233
543Pleasant Ridge Union Elementary School District1,229
544Kentfield Elementary School District1,223
545Kingsburg Joint Union High School District1,222
546Valle Lindo Elementary School District1,222
547Cascade Union Elementary School District1,202
548Calipatria Unified School District1,196
549Mammoth Unified School District1,193
550Plumas Lake Elementary School District1,189
551Fall River Joint Unified School District1,169
552Aromas/San Juan Unified School District1,164
553McKinleyville Union Elementary School District1,141
554Pixley Union Elementary School District1,122
555Hart-Ransom Union Elementary School District1,109
556Sonora Union High School District1,101
557Summerville Union High School District1,097
558Mother Lode Union Elementary School District1,088
559Keyes Union School District1,085
560Cottonwood Union Elementary School District1,083
561Chawanakee Unified School District1,068
562Fortuna Union High School District1,066
563Blochman Union Elementary School District1,063
564Evergreen Union School District1,063
565Arcata Elementary School District1,059
566Taft Union High School District1,059
567Edison Elementary School District1,056
568Bennett Valley Union Elementary School District1,048
569Rio Bravo-Greeley Union Elementary School District1,035
570Hope Elementary School District1,031
571Orange Center School District1,031
572Chowchilla Union High School District1,026
573Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District1,025
574Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District1,025
575Susanville Elementary School District1,012
576Yreka Union Elementary School District984
577Meridian Elementary School District978
578Esparto Unified School District976
579Oak Grove Union Elementary School District975
580Spreckels Union Elementary School District974
581Durham Unified School District960
582Corning Union High School District959
583Liberty Elementary School District958
584Terra Bella Union Elementary School District946
585Jamul-Dulzura Union Elementary School District945
586Waugh Elementary School District942
587Washington Union Elementary School District933
588Mupu Elementary School District917
589Sebastopol Union Elementary School District898
590Orchard Elementary School District890
591Raisin City Elementary School District883
592Nevada City Elementary School District879
593Lassen Union High School District873
594South Bay Union Elementary School District869
595McSwain Union Elementary School District865
596Borrego Springs Unified School District864
597Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District858
598Strathmore Union Elementary School District858
599Westside Elementary School District854
600San Miguel Joint Union School District849
601Kernville Union Elementary School District840
602Needles Unified School District835
603Calistoga Joint Unified School District832
604Modoc Joint Unified School District823
605Vineland Elementary School District823
606Columbia Elementary School District820
607Sundale Union Elementary School District820
608Mark Twain Union Elementary School District816
609Placer Hills Union Elementary School District801
610Banta Elementary School District795
611Mattole Unified School District780
612Kings River-Hardwick Union Elementary School District778
613Southern Humboldt Joint Unified School District776
614Planada Elementary School District766
615San Pasqual Valley Unified School District759
616El Tejon Unified School District744
617North County Joint Union Elementary School District742
618Wheatland Union High School District735
619Cardiff Elementary School District731
620Sutter Union High School District726
621Bret Harte Union High School District723
622Hamilton Unified School District719
623Penn Valley Union Elementary School District717
624Harmony Union Elementary School District714
625Antelope Elementary School District712
626Pollock Pines Elementary School District706
627Gravenstein Union Elementary School District704
628Laton Joint Unified School District704
629Coast Unified School District703
630Stone Corral Elementary School District702
631Emery Unified School District695
632Rancho Santa Fe Elementary School District691
633Yreka Union High School District670
634Ravendale-Termo Elementary School District665
635Sonora Elementary School District660
636Trinity Alps Unified School District660
637Scott Valley Unified School District658
638West Park Elementary School District657
639Grant Elementary School District655
640Richgrove Elementary School District651
641Gold Trail Union Elementary School District637
642Union Hill Elementary School District634
643Alpaugh Unified School District629
644Portola Valley Elementary School District629
645Buellton Union Elementary School District626
646Tipton Elementary School District612
647Chatom Union School District597
648Solvang Elementary School District591
649Pacific Union Elementary School District588
650Siskiyou Union High School District579
651Cutten Elementary School District577
652Vallecito Union School District577
653Pacheco Union Elementary School District575
654Lost Hills Union Elementary School District574
655Alta Vista Elementary School District573
656Los Molinos Unified School District567
657Briggs Elementary School District561
658Columbia Union School District556
659San Pasqual Union Elementary School District553
660Luther Burbank School District552
661Mendocino Unified School District551
662Biggs Unified School District542
663Anderson Valley Unified School District540
664Happy Valley Union Elementary School District537
665Knightsen Elementary School District532
666Camino Union Elementary School District529
667Palo Verde Union Elementary School District529
668Pleasant View Elementary School District522
669Sausalito Marin City School District521
670Upper Lake Union Elementary School District521
671Shoreline Unified School District519
672Oak Valley Union Elementary School District518
673Mt. Shasta Union Elementary School District517
674Le Grand Union High School District505
675Soulsbyville Elementary School District503
676Loma Prieta Joint Union Elementary School District496
677Ferndale Unified School District494
678Camptonville Elementary School District489
679Woodville Union Elementary School District481
680Franklin Elementary School District477
681Los Olivos Elementary School District471
682Gold Oak Union Elementary School District463
683Jamestown Elementary School District462
684Kings River Union Elementary School District462
685Monson-Sultana Joint Union Elementary School District461
686Tulelake Basin Joint Unified School District460
687Brittan Elementary School District457
688Brisbane Elementary School District456
689Curtis Creek Elementary School District449
690Meadows Union Elementary School District449
691Montecito Union Elementary School District448
692Woodside Elementary School District438
693Jacoby Creek Elementary School District427
694Washington Colony Elementary School District427
695Liberty Elementary School District414
696Kit Carson Union Elementary School District411
697Oak View Union Elementary School District411
698College Elementary School District408
699Rockford Elementary School District407
700Gerber Union Elementary School District404
701Laytonville Unified School District404
702Eastern Sierra Unified School District399
703Vallecitos Elementary School District396
704Round Valley Unified School District394
705Foresthill Union Elementary School District393
706Le Grand Union Elementary School District392
707Pacific Union Elementary School District385
708Summerville Elementary School District385
709Westwood Unified School District382
710Bayshore Elementary School District378
711Arcohe Union Elementary School District374
712Lone Pine Unified School District374
713Island Union Elementary School District373
714Sierra-Plumas Joint Unified School District372
715Ross Elementary School District367
716Westmorland Union Elementary School District363
717Bella Vista Elementary School District355
718Forestville Union Elementary School District354
719Alview-Dairyland Union Elementary School District352
720Sunnyside Union Elementary School District352
721Arena Union Elementary School District347
722Seeley Union Elementary School District345
723Ballico-Cressey Elementary School District344
724Buttonwillow Union Elementary School District343
725La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District340
726Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District339
727Chualar Union School District337
728Freshwater Elementary School District336
729Elverta Joint Elementary School District334
730Rio Dell Elementary School District331
731Janesville Union Elementary School District328
732Colfax Elementary School District320
733Lakeside Union Elementary School District318
734Lassen View Union Elementary School District314
735Fort Sage Unified School District313
736Maxwell Unified School District312
737Sequoia Union Elementary School District305
738Butte Valley Unified School District302
739Upper Lake Union High School District302
740East Nicolaus Joint Union High School District301
741Warner Unified School District297
742Mountain Valley Unified School District296
743Pioneer Union Elementary School District292
744Shandon Joint Unified School District292
745Lagunitas Elementary School District286
746Manzanita Elementary School District284
747Maple Elementary School District282
748Springville Union Elementary School District278
749Sunol Glen Unified School District278
750Twain Harte School District274
751Guerneville Elementary School District270
752Millville Elementary School District266
753Lucerne Elementary School District263
754Cinnabar Elementary School District257
755Waukena Joint Union Elementary School District257
756Geyserville Unified School District253
757Clay Joint Elementary School District250
758Trona Joint Unified School District250
759South Fork Union School District249
760Junction Elementary School District246
761Weed Union Elementary School District244
762Richfield Elementary School District243
763Southside Elementary School District243
764Somis Union School District237
765Hope Elementary School District236
766Wilmar Union Elementary School District234
767Cuyama Joint Unified School District233
768Potter Valley Community Unified School District230
769Semitropic Elementary School District230
770Johnstonville Elementary School District227
771Loleta Union Elementary School District227
772Richmond Elementary School District226
773Traver Joint Elementary School District226
774North Cow Creek Elementary School District225
775Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes Union Elementary School District223
776Scotia Union Elementary School District220
777New Hope Elementary School District216
778Shaffer Union Elementary School District209
779Columbine Elementary School District208
780Pond Union Elementary School District208
781Di Giorgio Elementary School District207
782Butteville Union Elementary School District205
783Black Butte Union Elementary School District204
784Elk Hills Elementary School District203
785Capay Joint Union Elementary School District201
786Dunham Elementary School District201
787Pleasant Grove Joint Union School District201
788Montague Elementary School District200
789Monroe Elementary School District197
790Winship-Robbins School District197
791Paradise Elementary School District196
792Cayucos Elementary School District193
793Ducor Union Elementary School District191
794Grenada Elementary School District190
795Big Pine Unified School District189
796Blue Lake Union Elementary School District188
797Buena Vista Elementary School District187
798Big Valley Joint Unified School District186
799Douglas City Elementary School District186
800Trinidad Union Elementary School District184
801Hydesville Elementary School District183
802Princeton Joint Unified School District177
803Golden Feather Union Elementary School District176
804Chicago Park Elementary School District173
805Lake Elementary School District173
806El Nido Elementary School District172
807Alvina Elementary School District171
808San Antonio Union Elementary School District170
809Mt. Baldy Joint Elementary School District167
810West Side Union Elementary School District166
811Shasta Union Elementary School District165
812Baker Valley Unified School District162
813Two Rock Union School District161
814Plaza Elementary School District160
815Cold Spring Elementary School District158
816Fieldbrook Elementary School District157
817Julian Union High School District157
818General Shafter Elementary School District153
819Point Arena Joint Union High School District153
820Browns Elementary School District150
821Kenwood School District150
822Merced River Union Elementary School District150
823Clear Creek Elementary School District149
824Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District146
825Nuestro Elementary School District145
826Valley Home Joint Elementary School District144
827Three Rivers Union Elementary School District143
828Shiloh Elementary School District141
829Tres Pinos Union Elementary School District141
830Big Springs Union Elementary School District137
831Gratton Elementary School District137
832Round Valley Joint Elementary School District136
833Happy Valley Elementary School District134
834Pleasant Valley Joint Union Elementary School District133
835Ballard Elementary School District132
836Magnolia Union Elementary School District130
837Mission Union Elementary School District129
838Plainsburg Union Elementary School District129
839Reeds Creek Elementary School District126
840Cuddeback Union Elementary School District123
841Latrobe School District123
842Burrel Union Elementary School District121
843Midway Elementary School District120
844Mountain Elementary School District120
845Alexander Valley Union Elementary School District119
846Belleview Elementary School District118
847Vista del Mar Union School District118
848Bolinas-Stinson Union School District117
849Roberts Ferry Union Elementary School District117
850Happy Camp Union Elementary School District116
851Bangor Union Elementary School District114
852Surprise Valley Joint Unified School District114
853Pacific Elementary School District108
854Stony Creek Joint Unified School District106
855Alta-Dutch Flat Union Elementary School District103
856Howell Mountain Elementary School District101
857Southern Trinity Joint Unified School District101
858Lagunita Elementary School District100
859San Ardo Union Elementary School District100
860Outside Creek Elementary School District99
861Twin Ridges Elementary School District97
862Big Sur Unified School District96
863Burnt Ranch Elementary School District96
864Snelling-Merced Falls Union Elementary School District96
865Pine Ridge Elementary School District95
866Lakeside Joint School District93
867Leggett Valley Unified School District92
868Kirkwood Elementary School District91
869Bradley Union Elementary School District89
870Junction City Elementary School District89
871Monte Rio Union Elementary School District89
872Mulberry Elementary School District85
873Allensworth Elementary School District84
874Knights Ferry Elementary School District84
875Whitmore Union Elementary School District84
876Alpine County Unified School District83
877Raymond-Knowles Union Elementary School District83
878Saucelito Elementary School District82
879Owens Valley Unified School District81
880Dunsmuir Elementary School District79
881McKittrick Elementary School District78
882Pioneer Union Elementary School District74
883Canyon Elementary School District68
884Mountain Union Elementary School District68
885McCloud Union Elementary School District66
886Castle Rock Union Elementary School District61
887Horicon Elementary School District61
888Igo-Ono-Platina Union School District57
889Garfield Elementary School District58
890Santa Clara Elementary School District56
891Dunsmuir Joint Union High School District55
892Nicasio School District55
893Delphic Elementary School District54
894San Lucas Union Elementary School District52
895Big Creek Elementary School District51
896Lewiston Elementary School District51
897Feather Falls Union Elementary School District50
898Pope Valley Union Elementary School District50
899Caliente Union Elementary School District49
900Peninsula Union School District43
901Hornbrook Elementary School District42
902Manchester Union Elementary School District42
903Belridge Elementary School District40
904Big Lagoon Union Elementary School District40
905Linns Valley-Poso Flat Union School District40
906Willow Creek Elementary School District39
907Junction Elementary School District37
908Gazelle Union Elementary School District36
909Graves Elementary School District36
910Bridgeville Elementary School District35
911Death Valley Unified School District35
912Oak Run Elementary School District33
913Fort Ross Elementary School District32
914French Gulch-Whiskeytown Elementary School District32
915Flournoy Union Elementary School District30
916Citrus South Tule Elementary School District29
917Bitterwater-Tully Elementary School District27
918Kneeland Elementary School District27
919Seiad Elementary School District27
920Montgomery Elementary School District26
921Cienega Union Elementary School District25
922Desert Center Unified School District24
923Mountain House Elementary School District22
924Laguna Joint Elementary School District18
925Willow Grove Union Elementary School District18
926Indian Diggings Elementary School District17
927Indian Springs Elementary School District16
928Kashia Elementary School District16
929Elkins Elementary School District15
930Hot Springs Elementary School District15
931Little Shasta Elementary School District14
932Orick Elementary School District13
933Coffee Creek Elementary School District12
934Forks of Salmon Elementary School District11
935Jefferson Elementary School District11
936Trinity Center Elementary School District11
937Maple Creek Elementary School District10
938Klamath River Union Elementary School District9
939Silver Fork Elementary School District9
940Union Joint Elementary School District9
941Green Point Elementary School District8
942Panoche Elementary School District7
943Bogus Elementary School District6
944Blake Elementary School District5
945Lincoln Elementary School District5


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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

Project Labor Agreement Threats Surge in California in 2015

California’s construction trade unions greatly expanded their campaign in 2015 to get local elected officials to require construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of winning a public works contract.

In 2015, 47 California local governments considered a union Project Labor Agreement mandate for future taxpayer-funded construction contracts. On a few occasions in 2015, Project Labor Agreements were on the meeting agendas of three California local governments on the same day.

Most of these 47 Project Labor Agreements will, would, or would have applied to bundles of future construction projects planned for many years into the future.

The number of Project Labor Agreement threats at California local governments can be graphed as a line that rises gradually higher for 15 years (1994-2008), then curves more dramatically upward in the following 6 years (2009-2014), and finally shoots up 150% in the last year (2015). This 22-year trend can also be depicted as radiation starting from the urban core of California coastal cities that spreads at a quickening pace deep into the suburbs.

See the table below listing the 47 governments and the status of their Project Labor Agreement activities.

Fawzy I. FawzyUC Los Angeles$354,469
Dennis L. MatthewsUC Davis$342,636
Marvin MarcusUC Los Angeles$337,346
John S. GreenspanUC San Francisco$326,070
George W. BreslauerUC Berkeley$315,720
Heinrich R SchelbertUC Los Angeles$314,027
Allan D. SiefkinUC Davis$309,593
Nosratola D VaziriUC Irvine$308,320
Joe W. GrayLawrence Berkeley$303,856
Richard W RollUC Los Angeles$303,170

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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

How Project Labor Agreements Elevate Costs to Taxpayers

When considering the labor movement in the United States, there is a huge distinction between government unions and private sector unions. Government unions elect their own bosses, they operate within agencies that collect taxes instead of having to make a profit by enticing consumers to buy their products, and they operate the machinery of government which means their more zealous members have the ability to intimidate their political opponents. Private sector unions have none of these advantages. They negotiate with managers hired by CEOs who report to shareholders. They negotiate with companies that will go out of business if they over-compensate their workers. And with rare exceptions, workers in private companies are not approving our business permit applications, inspecting our workplaces, or auditing our tax returns.

So where does this put construction unions who compete for government contracts?

This question matters a lot to reformers, because private sector unions, properly regulated, not only have a vital role to play in American society, but their members have the potential to lobby effectively against many of the special interests who are killing American jobs. Unfortunately, one of the biggest obstacles to political collaboration between construction unions and groups representing business interests is the use of Project Labor Agreements.

The majestic Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, opened in 2010, seen from Hoover Dam.
Far too few necessary civil engineering projects are completed nowadays.

Like many political issues, the details of project labor agreements aren’t generally known to the average voter. Here is the Wikipedia definition (condensed) of a project labor agreement:

“A Project Labor Agreement is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement with one or more labor organizations that establishes the terms and conditions of employment for a specific construction project. Before any workers are hired on the project, construction unions have bargaining rights to determine the wage rates and benefits of all employees working on the particular project and to agree to the provisions of the agreement. The terms of the agreement apply to all contractors and subcontractors who successfully bid on the project, and supersedes any existing collective bargaining agreements.  PLAs typically require that employees hired for the project are referred through union hiring halls, that nonunion workers pay union dues for the length of the project, and that the contractor follow union rules on pensions, work conditions and dispute resolution.”

Unions tout the benefits of project labor agreements as guaranteeing greater quality workmanship from a better trained workforce, along with guaranteeing more jobs for local workers. But they produce no evidence to support either of these claims.

Here are the main objections typically raised to PLAs by representatives of non-union construction firms:

1 – They force construction firms to hire people who aren’t their own employees to operate their equipment.

2 – Even if the union permits them to use their own employees to do the work, they have to pay into the union’s retirement fund, even though they are already paying into their own employees’ retirement fund.

3 – If a non-union construction firm works on a project under a PLA, making contributions to the union’s retirement pension fund, and that pension fund goes broke and requires additional funding, to the extent they paid into that fund, the non-union construction firm must also pay a share of the amount required to bailout the fund.

Because PLAs discourage non-union construction companies from bidding for jobs, the lack of competition inevitably raises the price of the construction. But the reason unions try to lock out non-union companies from competing for public works projects isn’t because the non-union firms pay their workers less. Prevailing wage agreements – which can be completely independent of PLAs – prevent that. The reason unionized firms drive costs up in projects is because of their work rules, which prohibit skilled workers from doing anything that is outside of their skill set, even if it is far more convenient for them to do so.

To make this clear, take a look at this list of the various construction trades. This is a partial list. It isn’t unusual for a construction project to require workers from over twenty different unions, each of which is negotiating for the maximum amount of work for their members.

The added cost of PLAs to taxpayers is not merely from less competition for jobs and inefficient union work rules. Often in order to force local agencies to accept PLAs, unions file lawsuits based on alleged violations of CEQA or other environmental laws. This so-called “greenmail” delays projects and incurs legal fees. Construction unions ought to be fighting environmentalist restrictions on construction, to help all workers and help the economy, instead of using them as a negotiating weapon.

The problems with PLAs are well known to many policymakers, but while construction unions can’t elect their company’s management team, they can definitely fund campaigns to elect politicians who will vote for PLAs, and they do. Kevin Dayton, a frequent contributor to UnionWatch, has written several reports on how construction unions pressure local elected officials to approve PLAs.

It’s unclear how construction unions might be willing to compromise on PLAs and consent to open competition for public works projects. But if they did, the prospects for cooperation are tantalizing. Because as it is, California’s investment in civil infrastructure is behind both in terms of maintenance and in terms of potentially spectacular upgrades. If construction unions were to join with business and community activists to oppose the extreme environmentalist forces that make infrastructure development cost-prohibitive, it could create more construction jobs than they’d ever dreamed of, building amenities that would lower the cost of living and improve the quality of life for everyone.

 *   *   *

Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Policy Center.


Project Labor Agreement, Wikipedia

What is a Project Labor Agreement and how does it affect workers?, National Right to Work

Get the Truth, The Truth About PLAs

Project Labor Agreement Basics, The Truth About PLAs

Say NO to Project Labor Agreement Mandates, Associated Builders and Contractors






















Will Citizens' Bond Oversight Committees Crumble Against Union Power?

Numerous local K-12 school districts and community college districts throughout California have entangled themselves in controversies over facilities construction funded by borrowed money obtained through bond sales. These controversies include the irresponsible sale of Capital Appreciation Bonds, inappropriate expenditures using bond proceeds, and questionable contracts for bond underwriting, construction program management, and project delivery. There has even been overt corruption.

An informed California taxpayer would probably conclude that stronger independent oversight is needed for bond finance and facilities construction at the state’s local educational districts. And, in fact, there is a structural check and balance now established in state law that can be assigned responsibility for greater oversight: the citizens’ bond oversight committees at school and college districts.

Construction Unions Resent Independent Oversight of Bond Measures

But the people of California should expect in 2016 to see their state government weaken – not strengthen – the powers of citizens’ bond oversight committees. These committees aren’t necessarily popular. Some district administrators and their lawyers and consultants apparently regard these committees as a meddling annoyance at best or an infuriating hinderance at worst. They certainly won’t object to weaker bond oversight committees.

But the sharpest distaste for citizens’ bond oversight committees comes from construction trade union officials. Oversight committees and their ability to independently evaluate policy proposals can sometimes undermine union efforts to implement policies such as Project Labor Agreements.

Independent citizens’ bond oversight committees have credibility with elected board members, the news media, and the public. They hold an official, formal role within a government to review policies and issue recommendations. They represent specific grassroots citizen constituencies in the community such as taxpayers, senior citizens, and parents. And they can generally review policies and make honest recommendations without worrying about political retaliation from special interests that provide campaign contributions, volunteers, and infrastructures.

Not surprisingly, citizens’ bond oversight committees usually don’t see an advantage in requiring construction contractors to sign a labor agreement with terms and conditions negotiated between union representatives and school district representatives. Why would a public agency want to impose a requirement in bid specifications that would obviously cut competition and raise costs of construction?

Bond Oversight Committees Were Meant to Protect the Interests of Taxpayers

In 2000, Governor Gray Davis and the Democrat-controlled California legislature enacted a state law mandating independent citizens’ bond oversight committees under certain conditions. This was part of a strategy to increase the passage rate for school and community college bond measures. Voters needed to be convinced that their interests as taxpayers would be protected even if the threshold for passage of school and college bond measures dropped from a two-thirds supermajority to a 55% supermajority.

The strategy worked. Voters approved a statewide ballot proposition reducing the threshold from two-thirds to 55%, and the passage rate for educational bond measures increased from 55% (from 1987 through 2000) to 82% (from 2001 through 2014). Educational districts were compelled to create and manage citizens’ bond oversight committees, although not always in compliance with state law.

The current purposes, functions, and organizational structure of these citizens’ bond oversight committees are outlined in California Education Code Section 15278-15282.

Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committees Object to Union Project Labor Agreements

There was no indication in 2000 that citizens’ bond oversight committees would object to government-imposed union monopolies for construction contracts. After all, the elected boards of only two local educational districts in California (the Los Angeles Unified School District and the West Contra Costa Unified School District) had considered Project Labor Agreement mandates at that time. The chaotic, raucous battles at California local governments over Project Labor Agreements had not yet become routine.

But as school and college bond measures became more frequent and much bigger in size after 2000, unions began aggressively lobbying school and college districts for Project Labor Agreements on facilities construction. Some citizens’ bond oversight committees were disturbed by this union pressure to change long-standing contracting policies (never mentioned during the bond measure campaigns) and decided they had a responsibility to make a recommendation on them. And the committees could cite state laws that gave them the authority to make such a recommendation:

1. California Education Code Section 15278 (b) states that “The citizens’ oversight committee shall actively review and report on the proper expenditure of taxpayers’ money for school construction.” Project Labor Agreements are never referenced in ballot language for bond measures (they are almost always implemented after voters approve the borrowing) and therefore it is debatable whether or not it is proper.

2. California Education Code Section 15278 (b)(5) says the citizens’ bond oversight committee has responsibility for “Reviewing efforts by the school district or community college district to maximize bond revenues by implementing cost-saving measures, including, but not limited to…” The reference to “but not limited too” was legislative intent for the Oversight Committee to have the authority to review matters such as unorthodox bidding requirements. Because unions (incredibly) claim PLAs are cost-saving measures, the bond oversight committees certainly have authority to review such proposals.

At the end of this article is a comprehensive list of actions taken by citizens’ bond oversight committees about Project Labor Agreements.

Unions May Try to Use the State Legislature to Neutralize Another Structural Check and Balance

What can unions do to suppress the independent activism of citizens’ bond oversight committees? Can the unions convince the legislature and Governor Brown to weaken citizens’ bond oversight committees, and can they do it without harming the ability of K-12 school and community college districts to win bond measures?

Opponents of Proposition 39 argued correctly in 2000 that the citizens’ bond oversight committee requirement used to promote Proposition 39 was based on a law passed by the legislature and would not be safely lodged in the California Constitution. That law could be repealed or amended by the legislature at any time.

That time is likely to be 2016.

The November 2016 ballot will include a $9 billion statewide bond measure. In addition, more than 150 school and college districts in California are expected to place a bond measure on the presidential primary and general election ballot. Unions want monopoly control of this work, and they don’t want to deal with continued flowering of local community resistance through bond oversight committees.

Since Governor Brown was elected in 2010, union lobbyists at the state capitol have diligently chipped away at structural checks and balances so they can realize the potential of a “one-party state” to achieve social change. For example, unions have been working for five years to neutralize powers granted to charter cities and other local governments under the California Constitution.

With the exception of political columnist Dan Walters, few political observers have highlighted this union-driven movement in California to centralize governance at the state capitol at the expense of local governments. In particular, construction union interests always seem able to preempt local control despite Governor Brown’s alleged support for the governance principle of “subsidiarity.”

Explaining the decision to strip power from citizens’ bond oversight committees will not be a challenge. Few Californians understand the cynicism and emptiness of policymaking at the California State Capitol. Unions will convince their legislative allies to justify weakened citizens’ bond oversight committees with arguments that they are broadening accountability and allowing educational districts to divert resources to the classroom.

And even if the citizens’ bond oversight committees are transformed into empty shells with no authority to review or make recommendations on anything of substance, voters are likely to continue approving 82% of bond measures (or perhaps 90% or higher in 2016 when Hillary Clinton is on the ballot). School and community college districts will continue to declare to voters in prominent ballot language that there will be independent citizens’ oversight of bond expenditures. Districts and their bond measure campaign consultants will assume – probably accurately – that 95% of voters won’t know the difference, and the other informed 5% had planned to vote against the bond measure anyway.

Watch for union-sponsored bills in 2016 that tackle their problem of independent citizens’ bond oversight committees.

History of Actions of Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committees on Project Labor Agreements

Although the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee at Los Angeles Unified School District – established locally through Proposition BB – was aware that the district and unions were negotiating a Project Labor Agreement in 1997-1999, the committee did not issue any statements or recommendations about it. This Project Labor Agreement preceded the passage of Proposition 39 in 2000.

From 2003 through 2006, five Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committees voted on recommendations concerning Project Labor Agreements:

1. San Jose Unified School District

On November 10, 2003, the Bond Oversight Committee for San Jose Unified School District voted 8-1 for the following motion: “At its meeting of November 10, the Measure F Oversight Committee was not convinced that adoption of a PLA would improve the efficiency of the expenditure of Measure F funds. The Oversight Committee therefore requests the Board of Education to refrain from adopting a PLA for Measure F.” The one vote against the resolution was an organizer for the local Carpenters union. In the end, the school board never voted on a negotiated Project Labor Agreement.

2. Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District

On February 24, 2004, the Bond Oversight Committee for Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District voted unanimously to recommend against approval of a PLA for future school construction. The school board subsequently voted 4-3 against negotiating a Project Labor Agreement.

3. Mt. Diablo Unified School District

On March 3, 2005, the Bond Oversight Committee for Mt. Diablo Unified School District voted 15-1 to recommend against approval of a PLA for future school construction. In the end, a Project Labor Agreement was imposed on some summer classroom renovation projects.

4. Sacramento City Unified School District

On August 3, 2005, members of the Bond Oversight Committee for Sacramento City Unified School District released a 15-page report backing their position that “since a problem does not seem to exist with regard to construction cost overruns, project delays or labor disputes within the district, and since clear and convincing evidence has not been submitted to substantiate the benefits of a Project Stabilization Agreement, the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee recommends that the Sacramento City Unified School District not enter into a Project Stabilization Agreement.” The school board subsequently voted 5-1 for a Project Labor Agreement.

5. Chabot-Las Positas Community College District

On July 25, 2006, the Bond Oversight Committee voted 4-2 to recommend to the board against using a PLA and to include this recommendation in the oversight committee’s annual report. District administrators and legal counsel argued that the oversight committee had no business making a recommendation. The college board voted 7-0 for a Project Labor Agreement.

By 2006, administrators and contract attorneys for school and college districts were obviously trying to suppress the desire of citizens’ bond oversight committees to review proposed Project Labor Agreements. A narrow legal interpretation about the role of bond oversight committees began circulating. This interpretation essentially confined the committees to a role of approving an annual report produced for the district showing that proceeds from bond sales were spent on construction and not on teacher and administrator salaries or general operating expenses.

From 2006 through 2015, numerous K-12 school and community college districts in California considered and approved Project Labor Agreements with unions. While some oversight committees received reports at their meetings from district staff about the proposed Project Labor Agreements, only four citizens bond oversight committees voted on a formal recommendation.

6. San Diego Unified School District

An editorial in the April 24, 2009 San Diego Union-Tribune reported on the district’s opposition to letting the bond oversight committee review Project Labor Agreements:

The policy was hastily adopted without any real scrutiny by district staffers. Voters were never told this costly requirement would be imposed before Proposition S was approved – or else they never would have approved it. But when members of the bond measure’s Independent Citizens Oversight Committee raised these and other issues, they were told to butt out. Mark Bresee, the school district’s general counsel, told committee members that their role as an “independent representative of all taxpayers” – Bresee’s term – didn’t mean they had a right to kibitz about the district’s possible adoption of a Project Labor Agreement…Thankfully, the bond oversight committee told Bresee and the school board majority to take a hike.

Then, as reported in the Voice of San Diego on May 26, 2009:

Staffers from San Diego Unified discouraged the bond oversight committee from weighing in on whether or not to adopt an agreement or how to do so, arguing that the research was so polarized and the question so political that there was no way to make a factual recommendation. The bond overseers disregarded their advice, then deadlocked on the issue of whether a contractor group should join the unions and the school district and the bargaining table.

That vote on May 21, 2009 was 4-4-1, and union officials had been prominent in contending that the oversight committee had no authority to discuss the issue. The board subsequently voted 3-2 for the Project Labor Agreement.

7. San Gabriel Unified School District

In 2010, the Bond Oversight Committee for recommended against a Project Labor Agreement. The board subsequently voted 3-2 for the Project Labor Agreement.

8. Oxnard Union High School District

On December 9, 2014, the district’s Citizens Bond Oversight Committee voted 4-1 to recommend that the board reject a Project Labor Agreement because of the likelihood of increased costs and other reasons. Nevertheless, the board voted 3-2 for a Project Labor Agreement.

9. San Bernardino Community College District

The bond oversight committee voted on December 12, 2014 to oppose the Project Labor Agreement, but the board voted 4-3 to approve it. Here is an excerpt from one of its reports:

More notable was the Board of Trustees passing a “Community Benefits Agreement” this December. This agreement is better known as a “Project Labor Agreement”, and these agreements give substantial advantages to union contractors vs. non-union contractors. The Bond Oversight Committee spent a significant amount of time and effort to determine if there was cost savings, as required under Section 5 of California Educational Code 15278. We gathered information from local businesses, trade groups, staff and other interested parties, and determined there was no clear cost savings, and a potentially significant (10-20%) cost increase with no benefit to the community. The committee made every attempt to communicate this decision to the Board, but we were not allowed to make our findings to the Board prior to the Board of Trustees voting to approve this agreement.

Despite consistent opposing arguments from student organizations and local stakeholders, as well as not taking the time to even hear the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, regardless of our clear desire to present our well-researched findings and conclusion, the Community Benefits Agreement was approved. This rush to make a decision prior to hearing our report we find irresponsible, and we wish to make these actions known to the public.

Now, in 2015, citizens’ bond oversight committees in a high school district and a community college district in San Diego County want to hold meetings to discuss proposed proposed Project Labor Agreements and possibly make recommendations to the boards about the proposal. Union officials are unhappy about this. One request has been granted and one has been rejected.

10. Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

At the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, the board voted 3-2 to delay a vote on negotiating a Project Labor Agreement in order to give the Bond Oversight Committee a chance to discuss the proposal and provide input to the board. That meeting is scheduled for November 12, 2015.

11. Sweetwater Union High School District

Despite repeated requests from representatives of its citizens’ bond oversight committee for a chance to make a recommendation, the board of the Sweetwater Union High School District shows no indication of letting that happen. As reported in the October 30, 2015 San Diego Union-Tribune, “Members of the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee criticized the board’s lack of transparency and called for a four-month moratorium to allow for study of the costs and benefits, to no avail.” The October 31, 2015 Chula Vista Star-News explained the view of one board member that the district has to pass the Project Labor Agreement in order for the bond oversight committee to know what’s in it:

Trustee Paula Hall brought the resolution to negotiate a project labor agreement forward. Hall said she has been having issues with her email so she didn’t get a chance to read the CBOC’s letter for a moratorium, but is aware of their concerns from them speaking out at previous board meetings. Hall said the board never sent the item to the CBOC because there is no information for them to look over as the board only passed a resolution. “There’s nothing to review,” she said. “There is no project labor agreement negotiated.”

It remains to be seen if the citizens’ bond oversight committee at Sweetwater Union High School District will ever get the chance to review a Project Labor Agreement and make a recommendation.

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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

Community College Board in California Will Be Accountable to Voters

The eastern suburbs of San Diego (“East County”) have been and are still regarded as politically conservative. But even this area isn’t impervious to the political movement in California toward European-style social democracy. Labor unions and their political allies have recently gained political control of an East County local government and are now exercising their power.

Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District - a Project Labor Agreement Target.

Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District is a union Project Labor Agreement target.

But there is resistance. While the suburbs of San Francisco and Los Angeles have largely surrendered to “Progressive” policies during the past 20 years, there’s still a well-organized, well-funded effort in the San Diego region to defend fiscal responsibility, fair and open competition for government contracts, and freedom of choice for contractor employees. This effort will be tested at the October 20, 2015 meeting of the elected board of trustees of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.

Unions Angle for a Monopoly on Suburban Educational Construction

As seen at many suburban educational districts in California, leadership in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District has shifted during the past few election cycles from traditionally pragmatic board members to board members who are interested in social change and supported by union interests. One recent subtle indication of this transformation was a board endorsement of rather unconventional political activists speaking on campus. Now, the board is becoming more aggressive and obvious in advancing a new agenda through the college.

On October 20, the board will vote on this resolution: “Directing Staff to Negotiate the Terms of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for Projects Funded by Proposition V, State Bonds/Parking and Other Facilities Funding.” In other words, the board intends to give construction trade unions a monopoly on future construction contracts for the district.

This means construction companies will have to sign a deal negotiated by the college district’s representatives and union representatives. Left out of the negotiations will be contractors and their business associations, including associations that traditionally negotiate labor agreements. Contractors have one role: sign the agreement someone else negotiated for them.

In a typical Project Labor Agreement, unions supply all workers (including apprentices). Fringe benefit payments from employers on behalf of workers are directed into union-affiliated trust funds. And workers pay union dues and fees.

Adopting a government-mandated Project Labor Agreement is contrary to specific language included in the district’s August 7, 2012 bond resolution. That language was meant to assure voters in the November 2012 election that the district wouldn’t require contractors to sign a union agreement as a condition of working on projects funded by the $398 million Proposition V bond measure. Here is the language:

(j) …the District will promote fair and open competition for all District construction projects so that all contractors and workers, whether union or non-union, are treated equally in the bidding and awarding of District construction contracts…

Contrary to common sense and legislative intent, the district now claims that this provision actually means it is allowed to require its contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements. The district’s argument is based on a web of federal and state laws and court decisions often interpreted to mean that if a contractor chooses not to operate like a union company or a worker chooses not to be represented by a union, they’re not victims of discrimination.

23 States Ban Project Labor Agreements

23 states ban government-mandated Project Labor Agreements.

Instead, they’re simply making a free choice to refuse to abide by conditions that a government – as a participant in the marketplace – establishes for awarding a contract. In other words, if you choose not to be affiliated with a union, don’t complain. You’re still free to bid on a different project, find another job, find another trade or profession, or join the exodus of the rest of your kind and leave California for Texas, Florida, or the 23 states that ban Project Labor Agreements.

Groups Decide to Expose the Scheme to the Public

Presumably the college district’s board and administrators haven’t been too worried about pulling this bait-and-switch on voters. In 2000, 53% of California voters approved Proposition 39, which reduced the voter approval threshold for most school and college bond measures from two-thirds to 55%. In the following 15 years, the accountability and oversight protections in the California Constitution and in state law related to Proposition 39 have been narrowed, whittled away, and neutralized to virtual uselessness.

Nowadays California school and college districts routinely circumvent or evade state laws regarding school construction finance and implementation. Their lawyers and advisors exploit every ambiguity in law to justify finance and spending decisions that voters never would have tolerated. (Using bond proceeds – borrowed money that must be paid back with interest – to buy iPads for students is one of many examples.)

Public accountability is infrequent. Legal or political consequences are rare. But in this case of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, people are determined to expose and stop it.

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association issued a press release revoking its 2012 endorsement of Proposition V if the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District board votes for the Project Labor Agreement. Its endorsement in 2012 has been predicated on the bond resolution that committed to fair and open bid competition on district construction funded by Proposition V.

See the press release: Taxpayers Association to Revoke Support of Community College District Bond for Breach of Fair Competition Pledge

To increase public awareness of the betrayal, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association also sent a mailer informing voters of the Project Labor Agreement vote:

San Diego County Taxpayers Association Mailer on Grossmont-Cuyumaca Community College District Project Labor Agreement for Prop V

San Diego County Taxpayers Association Mailer on Grossmont-Cuyumaca Community College District Project Labor Agreement for Prop V


At the same time, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction – a statewide organization with significant strength in San Diego – also sent a mailer informing voters of the Project Labor Agreement vote:


Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Mailer on Grossmont-Cuyumaca Community College District Project Labor Agreement for Prop V

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Mailer on Grossmont-Cuyumaca Community College District Project Labor Agreement for Prop V

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Mailer on Grossmont-Cuyumaca Community College District Project Labor Agreement for Prop V

It’s expected that the board of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District will vote on October 20, 2015 to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement with unions. They are bound to the unions like a contractor and its employees are bound to a Project Labor Agreement. But their political careers may end when East County citizens living in the district express their opinions with their own votes.

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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

Unions Seek Control of Recent California School Bond Measures

Has California school and community college facility construction become a perpetual government stimulus program for politically-favored construction trade unions?

Prop 39 BannerFifteen years ago, it was obvious that many school and college districts in California needed new construction, modernization, or renovation of their facilities for the safety and comfort of students, teachers, administrators, and support staff. That’s why 53% of California voters approved Proposition 39 in November 2000. It reduced the threshold for voter approval of school bond measures from two-thirds to 55%, increasing the passage rate for educational bond measures from under 50% to more than 80%.

But the purpose of borrowing money for school construction seemed to evolve after the 2008 economic collapse and subsequent November 2008 election.

Debt started piling up from relentless and repeated bond sales to investors. The “need” for more construction seemed immeasurable and unquenchable. Scandals began to pop up as clever people began to figure out how to manipulate the loopholes and ambiguities in ten year-old state laws regarding finance and construction of educational facilities.

Meanwhile, construction trade unions became much more aggressive in trying to monopolize educational construction by lobbying elected school board members for Project Labor Agreements. And local school and college elected boards became much more willing to grant those union monopolies.

Local elected officials in California recognized that political circumstances had changed. To quote a San Diego Unified School District board member immediately before the 3-2 vote on May 26, 2009 for a Project Labor Agreement:

I think the bigger picture that people are realizing – and this is what scares some people – is that San Diego is changing, the United States is changing…this is a different city…we are looking at a different community.

What has resulted from this change? A lot of debt has been imposed on future generations of Californians.

The California Policy Center released a report in July 2015 entitled For the Kids: California Voters Must Become Wary of Borrowing Billions More from Wealthy Investors for Educational Construction. This report identified $146 billion in authorized borrowing from 2001 to 2014 for California educational facility construction and $200 billion in existing debt service from bonds sold to pay for California educational facility construction.

In response to this report, some taxpayer advocates have asserted that momentum for additional local educational bond measures is propelled by construction trade unions that see local education districts as ripe targets to accumulate a pool of guaranteed government work. Union leaders remain nervous about the state’s economic prospects. They don’t want a painful revival of membership unemployment rates of 25%-50% experienced from 2009 to 2012.

Is this argument valid?

Below is a list of all of the K-12 school and college bond measures approved by voters in the last four primary and general elections (in 2012 and 2014) that became targets of construction unions for a government-mandated Project Labor Agreement (PLA).


Bond Measures Approved by Voters in June 2012


Amount Authorized to Borrow Name of School or College District Voter Approval Percentage Project Labor Agreement Activity
West Valley-Mission Community College District



Board approves PLA for upcoming “pilot project” 8/20/13.

Milpitas Unified School District



Board approves PLA 12/11/12.

Bond Measures Approved by Voters in November 2012


San Diego Unified School District



PLA approved in 2009 extends to this bond measure.

Coast Community College District



Board votes 5/15/13 to end consideration of a PLA.

Oakland Unified School District



PLA approved in 2004 extends to this bond measure.

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District



Board discusses PLA 11/20/14.

Board votes for contract to negotiate PLA 4/16/15.

West Contra Costa Unified School District



PLA approved in 2000 extends to all bond measures.

Cerritos Community College District



Board discusses PLA 4/16/14 and 6/4/14.

Solano Community College District



Board approves PLA 12/4/13.

Sacramento City Unified School District



Board votes 1/23/14 to extend PLA approved in 2005 to this bond measure.

Rancho Santiago Community College District



Board approves PLA 3/24/14.

Alum Rock Union Elementary School District



Board approves PLA 6/18/13.

East Side Union High School District



Revised PLA approved in 2009 extends to this bond measure.

Lynwood Unified School District



Board approves PLA 2/12/13.

Inglewood Unified School District



Board approves PLA 10/26/12.

Chula Vista Elementary School District SFID No. 1



Board approves negotiations for a PLA 4/15/15.

Oxnard School District



Board approves PLA 6/24/15.

Sacramento City Unified School District



Board votes 1/23/14 to extend PLA approved in 2005 to this bond measure.

Antioch Unified School District SFID No. 1



Board approves PLA 11/13/13.

Whittier City Unified School District



Board approves PLA 1/13/15.

Washington Unified School District



Board imposed a union-backed apprenticeship requirement for contractors and used it to disqualify non-union company from contract.

Bond Measures Approved by Voters in June 2014


Fremont Unified School District



Board approves negotiations for a PLA 8/12/15.

Contra Costa Community College District



Board approves PLA 10/10/12 for all projects of $2 million or more.

Culver City Unified School District



Community Budget Advisory Committee discusses PLA 5/27/15.

Bond Measures Approved by Voters in November 2014


Santa Clara Unified School District



Board discusses PLA 3/26/15.

PLA discussion scheduled for 8/13/15.

Sonoma County Community College District



Union officials have openly declared intent to lobby for a PLA.

College administrators have met with legal counsel regarding PLA.

San Mateo County Community College District



Board discusses PLA 7/8/15.

Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District



Board discusses PLA 3/25/15.

San Luis Obispo County Community College District (Cuesta)



Board discusses PLA 2/4/15.

Board voted down PLA negotiations at 3/4/15 meeting.

Hayward Unified School District



Board votes for PLA 6/24/15.

Vacaville Unified School District



Board discusses PLA 3/9/15.

Board votes for PLA negotiations 6/25/15.

Alameda Unified School District



PLA discussion scheduled for 8/11/15.

Santa Rosa High School District



Union officials have openly declared intent to lobby for a PLA.

Salinas Union High School District



Board discusses PLA 3/24/15 and 5/12/15.

Board votes for PLA negotiations 5/26/15.

East Side Union High School District



PLA that applied to Measures G and E amended – apparently administratively – to cover Measure I.

Azusa Unified School District



Board discusses PLA 3/17/15.

Pittsburg Unified School District



Ballot arguments against the bond measure focused on PLAs imposed on previous bond measures; supporters’ rebuttal defended the PLAs.

Berryessa Union School District



Board votes for contract to negotiate PLA 3/10/15.

Santa Rosa Elementary School District



Union officials have openly declared intent to lobby for a PLA.

Washington Unified School District



Board imposed a union-backed apprenticeship requirement for contractors and used to disqualify non-union company from contract.

Bassett Unified School District



Board voted for PLA negotiations 1/20/15.


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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

Unions in the News – Weekly Highlights

Exposed: Audit of DWP Non-Profit Trusts Produces Surprise Roadblocks to Transparency
By Paul Hatfield, May 5, 2015,
By now, most of you are familiar with the audit report of the controversial non-profit trusts issued by City Controller Ron Galperin. If not, take the time to read it – at least the Executive Summary. The report clearly describes an organization with no effective internal or external oversight; glaring deficiencies in controls; indifferent management; incapable staff. (read article)

Teachers vs. Union Dues
May 4, 2015, Wall Street Journal
Teachers unions are the biggest political spenders in California, in part because teachers know they must ante up to receive substantial employment benefits. Some of the state’s teachers have filed a lawsuit to end the political extortion. Four teachers sued their unions in federal court last month for violating their First Amendment rights by requiring them to fund political advocacy they don’t support. The teachers argue that the union has unconstitutionally burdened their speech by conditioning significant benefits on their political contributions. In California all teachers must pay “agency fees” for collective bargaining regardless of whether they belong to the union. These fees typically constitute about 60% of the $1,000 in annual membership dues, which finance union political spending. (read article)

LAUSD chief wants more money, fewer restrictions in letter to governor
By Thomas Himes, May 4, 2015, Contra Costa Times
The chief of California’s largest school district urged Gov. Jerry Brown to spend more money on schools, as the state prepares to finalize budget figures. Los Angeles Unified could reap up to $253 million extra if the state’s revenue projections live up to expectations of being $2.3 billion more than previously estimated…..LAUSD’s contribution for teachers’ pensions will shoot up by 28 percent in the fiscal year that starts July 1. The contribution rate increased, because of state plans to make the system more financially sound. (read article)

California’s government pensions are a crippling burden
By Stephen Frank, May 4, 2015,
California is a cautionary tale for taxpayers in the rest of the country. The people of California are being burdened by an unsustainable, unfunded liability–a trillion dollar government pension system. At the end of the day under California law, the taxpayers will subsidize the shortfall in the budget. Besides this debt, California has a debt of $340 billion–and that debt stands to be increased by some of the proposals within the state’s 2016 ballot measures. California is in economic collapse: while tax revenue increases, the policies to kill off the state are in place and beginning to take effect. (read article)

Rev. Jackson, labor union broaden Silicon Valley campaign at Broadcom
By Mike Snider, May 4, 2015, USA Today
Rev. Jesse Jackson’s campaign against the technology industry’s wage gap is getting personal. Jackson and the United Service Workers West union plan a rally Tuesday near the Santa Clara, Calif., offices of communications tech company Broadcom, which contracts with security company Universal Protection Service, protesting UPS’ treatment of employees who are seeking union representation. (read article)

Scott Walker Says He Would Crush What’s Left Of Unions If Elected President
By Alice Ollstein, May 4, 2015,
Though he has yet to officially declare his bid for president, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is frequenting early primary states and hinting at what he would do if elected to the White House. In a recent interview with Radio Iowa, Walker said he would champion a federal version of the controversial ‘right-to-work’ law he signed earlier this year “As much as I think the federal government should get out of most of what it’s in right now, I think establishing fundamental freedoms for the American people is a legitimate thing and that would be something that would provide that opportunity in the other half of America to people who don’t have those opportunities today,” he said. (read article)

May Day march in San Jose comes as labor unions gain ground
By Vicki Thompson, May 4, 2015, Silicon Valley Business Journal
Activists rallied in East San Jose on Friday for a May Day march and protest, at a time when labor unions are energized in Silicon Valley and making inroads with workers who serve the tech sector. Participants called attention to the plight of the poor and the need for workers’ rights to be respected. The march occurred as some Silicon Valley cities have taken steps toward raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018, part of a national movement to boost wages. (read article)

Dale Francisco: With Santa Barbara District Elections Ahead, Beware the Pros — and Cons
By Dale Fransico, May 3, 2015, NoozHawk
Santa Barbara was recently sued by plaintiffs who accused the city of violating the California Voting Rights Act The law is a great example of how powerful interest groups have seized control of politics in California. While supposedly protecting the rights of minority voters, it in fact further empowers the Democratic Party and two of that party’s main allies: labor unions and attorneys. (read article)

Labor assists marijuana legalization effort in California
May 3, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle
Organized labor is assisting efforts to frame a California ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state, sensing an opportunity to expand its presence in the workplace. The United Food and Commercial Workers’ Western States Council commissioned a series of focus groups, where likely voters across the state filed into rooms with one-way mirrors to share opinions, The Sacramento Bee reported. The research is aimed at shaping a legalization initiative for the 2016 ballot. (read article)

A window into the mindset of a public safety union
May 2, 2015, Press-Enterprise
It goes without saying that public employee unions dominate state and local political affairs in California. Pandering to public employee unions is a virtual requirement for electoral competitiveness and catering to their demands is essential to remain in office. There is no question that the voluntary association of employees can be critical for the fair treatment of employees. Public employee unions, however, are obviously unlike private-sector unions in that they represent employees paid by taxpayers to perform tasks on which governments generally have a monopoly. (read article)

G.O.P. Expands Labor Battle to Laws Setting State Construction Wages
By Monica Davey, May 2, 2015, New York Times
A bill that would end prescribed wages on public construction projects in Indiana awaits the signature of Gov. Mike Pence. And Henry Burks, a union electrician who lives near Indianapolis, is bracing. Mr. Burks, 57, is putting off plans to build a patio at his house. He is delaying painting and landscaping, too. And he said he is worried about how to continue helping his grown children with college costs if his income drops, as he firmly expects. (read article)

Transparent California reveals pensions of San Joaquin County’s former school superintendents
By Elizabeth Roberts, May 2, 2015, Lodi News-Sentinel
Former Superintendent Jack McLaughlin, whose chaotic two-year tenure at Stockton Unified School District remains one of the most contentious in recent history, topped the list of the biggest pension payouts in the Valley and Sacramento region, taking home $266,899 from CalSTRS in 2014, Transparent California reported Thursday. (read article)

Can LA Afford Its High Priced, Inefficient Workforce? Paid Much More Than Private Sector
By Stephen Frank, May 1, 2015, California Political Review
“Working” for the city of Los Angeles maybe one of the cushiest jobs in California. It is also one of the easiest and best paid—not only by government standards but by private industry levels. Even the Los Angeles Times is taking on this boondoggle. While Mayor Garcetti is crying and begging for more money, the unions running the city are making out like bandits. This is a city that proves hard work is stupid, honesty is foolishness and that theft by union is a way of life. (read article)

By Maureen Magee, May 1, 2015, U-T Dan Diego
The San Diego Unified School District and its teachers union reached a tentative labor pact after a year of negotiations that calls for a 5 percent raise over two years and lower class sizes in some grades, officials announced Thursday. The three-year agreement followed two days of deliberations with a state-appointed mediator, putting an end to an official labor impasse declared last month. (read article)

California port truckers end strike after four days
By Steve Gorman, May 1, 2015, Reuters
Southern California port truckers seeking recognition as employees rather than contractors ended a strike of freight-hauling companies on Friday after four days of picketing that drew attention to their cause but did little to disrupt cargo shipments. Several hundred drivers, backed by the Teamsters union, struck four trucking firms they accuse of defying federal and state labor enforcement decisions and a court ruling that the truckers were victims of wage theft through misclassification. (read article)

Obama’s crusade for Big Labor continues
By Heather Greenaway, April 30, 2015, Washington Examiner
Over the past several decades, organized labor has been experiencing a crisis as membership rolls continue to decline to record lows. In 2014, the Labor Department reported that union membership fell again to 11.1 percent of workers, down from 11.3 percent the previous year. Today, it stands barely over six percent in the private sector, while government workers largely contributing to the ranks of union members. (read article)

Freedom’s just another word for mandatory dues, union says
By Jason Hart, April 30, 2015,
Freedom means paying a union to keep your job? What sounds like a riff on a George Orwell story is actually the heart of an argument by one of America’s most powerful labor unions. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees recently equated forced dues with freedom in defense of an AFSCME video portraying nonmembers as deadbeats. (read article)

New Bill Would Ban Mandatory Project Labor Agreements
By Carl Horowitz, April 30, 2015,
In the construction industry, nothing exemplifies union monopoly, and its costs, quite like a Project Labor Agreement. A new proposal before Congress, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act, would protect contractors from intrusion by organized labor upon contractual liberty. Sponsored by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., (H.R. 1671, S. 71) the measure would bar the use of these agreements on federally-sponsored or subsidized public works. (read article)

Poll: Union Approval Remains Low
April 30, 2015,
Unions trade on claims of their wide public support, but even those boasts are getting narrower and narrower. A few labor flacks touted the findings of a recently released Pew Research Center poll about Americans’ views on unions, but in truth it mostly bears bad news for the union movement. (read article)

Obama-Appointed NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce: A William Winpisinger For the 21st Century?
By Stan Greer, April 30, 2015,
As one of the leading spokesmen for Big Labor during the late 1970’s and the 1980’s, then-International Association of Machinists (IAM) union President William Winpisinger was extraordinary not so much because he was an unabashed socialist (after all, current AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was once honored by the Democratic Socialists of America with its annual Eugene Debs award), but because of his unapologetic championing of criminal violence and other lawbreaking as tactics. (read article)

That Civic San Diego Fight Is About Unions
By Andrew Keatts, April 29, 2015, VoiceOfSan
he fight over the future of Civic San Diego is also about labor unions. The city-owned nonprofit that used to run California’s tax-subsidized redevelopment program and regulates development downtown has been putting out fires left and right. Civic San Diego has been fighting against community groups who say the agency ignores them. One of the agency’s own board members filed a lawsuit to see if its role is even legal. And Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez wants to strip away Civic San Diego’s decision-making authority and hand it to the City Council. (read article)

Pension changers’ new term: “crowd-out”
By Jon Ortiz, April 29, 2015, Sacramento Bee
The next buzzword in California’s episodic public pension debate: “crowd-out.” As in, “California Crowd-Out: How Rising Retirement Benefit Costs Threaten Municipal Services.” It’s the title of a new report issued by the conservative Manhattan Institute. Leaders of the state pension-change movement, including former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and Dan Pellissier, president of California Pension Reform, earlier this month met at Sacramento’s Sterling Hotel for a presentation by the report’s author, Stephen Eide. DeMaio, a Republican, is teaming up with Chuck Reed, the Democratic former mayor of San Jose, on a yet-to-be-detailed pension overhaul for next year’s ballot. (read article)

AFL-CIO Delays CA Hospital Vote: What Happened to Employee Free Choice?
By Steve Early, April 28, 2015,
When workers feel collectively trapped in poorly performing unions that do not properly represent them, the most union-minded among them often believe that changing unions is their only hope. If switching to another union is not a viable option because of AFL rules or incumbent union manipulation of Labor Board procedures, the result will be more workplace anger, frustration, and resentment. (read article)

Union clash prompts California bill
By Mike Hornick, April 28, 2015, The Packer
Inspired by the ongoing clash between Fresno, Calif.-based Gerawan Farming Inc. and United Farm Workers, a bill before the California legislature would stop the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board from enforcing a mediated contract without approval by a majority of employees. Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican, introduced Assembly Bill 1389, the Fair Contracts for California Farmworkers Act. (read article)

More Taxpayer Money Spent Justifying Union Political Agenda in California

About 95% of the public policy studies and reports circulating among California state and local governments reject a free market approach to societal challenges. Instead, these studies and reports advocate more government spending, more government programs, and more government intrusion into commerce and personal behavior.

Obviously “Progressive” intellectual thought in California gets a disproportionate share of funding. Who funds the policy institutes churning out the vision that will likely define the future of the state?

You do. For many of these operations, government is a major source of funding.

Federal, state, regional, and local governments move money around with little accountability through grants and contracts. Some of it ends up going to Left-leaning policy institutes.

One notorious example of a government-funded policy institute is the union-oriented University of California Miguel Contreras Labor Program. After the California Labor Federation succeeded in establishing the program with a $6 million appropriation in the 2000-01 state budget, the annual budget always included a specific line-item amount for the program. The UC Labor Program received a total of $37.4 million in direct appropriations until Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the $5.4 million assigned to it in the 2008-09 state budget. It continues to operate today with help from taxpayers.

Last week top administrators of the City of Los Angeles decided to contract with the University of California Institute for Labor and Employment (affiliated with the University of California Miguel Contreras Labor Program). For the second time in a year, the labor institute will analyze a proposal to increase the minimum wage in the City of Los Angeles. The public contract for the second analysis is reportedly worth $84,000.

A few Los Angeles City Councilmembers are objecting publicly to the contract because of the obvious bias of the labor institute. Chances of a negative report from this operation are zero, as shown from the first analysis.

Union leaders and lobbyists attained a major victory. They can use these minimum wage studies as a basis to promote minimum wage increases throughout Los Angeles County, the state of California, and in states and cities throughout the rest of the country. Best of all, they don’t have to pay for the studies.

Another example of taxpayer-funded Progressive policy analysis and promotion now getting attention is the Bay Area Regional Prosperity Plan – Economic Prosperity Strategy.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded a $4,991,336 grant to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the San Francisco Bay Area to develop and implement this plan. In collaboration with the Association of Bay Area Governments, some of this federal money was transferred to “Community-Based Organizations” that have close relationships with unions.

Now the plan has been developed through the involvement of union front groups such as Working Partnerships USA and the San Mateo County Union Community Alliance. “Community Outreach” to the nine Bay Area counties is underway. (See below for information about the five “launch meetings.”)

The plan designates $800,000 (including $760,000 in federal funds) specifically to the outreach program, which some might call “lobbying and public relations.” Already the Oakland City Council has scheduled an agenda item at its January 13 meeting to discuss the plan.

On January 15, union officials and community organizers will hold a “launch meeting” at the Redwood City Library about the Bay Area Regional Prosperity Plan’s Economic Prosperity Strategy. Attendees will get to hear a presentation about “Pursuing Project Labor Agreements and Community Benefits Ordinances.” (In other words, how to give unions a monopoly on public and private construction projects.) Project Labor Agreements are a specific recommendation in the plan and are referenced several times.

That particular workshop will not proceed without controversy and fierce resistance from the Merit Shop sector of the construction industry. But it’s unclear if and how corporations and business groups in the San Francisco Bay Area will respond to a well-funded coordinated campaign in nine counties to promote a wide variety of leftist policy objectives. Obvious business targets of the plan include residential and commercial developers, high-tech and biotech companies that contract out for services, and transportation related to the Port of Oakland.

Strangely, the Bay Area Council – “The Voice of Bay Area Business” – provided research support for the Bay Area Regional Prosperity Plan. There’s a famous but apparently apocryphal quotation attributed to Vladimir Lenin: “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” In this case, the rope is being purchased with taxpayer money.

Here is the notice about the “launch meetings.”

EPS [Economic Policy Strategy] Launch Meetings

Dear Friends,

We are wishing you very happy holidays and best wishes for 2015. To kick off the year, the Economic Prosperity Strategy drafting team is hosting a series of launch events to build towards our Capstone Conference in April. The workshops are scheduled for January 13, 15, 23, 26 and February 2. Each workshop is in a different location and will focus on different themes in the EPS. We are inviting all stakeholders from all of the Regional Prosperity Plan working groups, all community members who participated in the initial EPS workshops and all local and regional policy makers who will have a role in implementing the strategy. Please share the invitation with your networks. Call or e-mail if you have any questions, 510-207-6346

Best wishes,

Kirsten (The Rev. Kirsten Snow Spalding, San Mateo County Union Community Alliance)

Economic Prosperity Strategy Launch Meetings 2015

In October 2014, a team of partner organizations working for MTC and ABAG issued the “Economic Prosperity Strategy: Improving economic opportunity for the Bay Area’s low- and moderate-wage workers.” The report is available for download at The report, part of the Bay Area’s Regional Prosperity Plan, was produced with input from hundreds of participants throughout the region, including representatives from economic development organizations, community members, non-profits, businesses, labor, local governments, workforce development partners and others.The thrust of the Economic Prosperity Strategy was that achieving improved economic opportunity for all requires working on three goals simultaneously:

GOAL A: Strengthen career pathways to middle wage jobs (that pay between about $18 and $30 per hour).

GOAL B: Grow the economy with a focus on middle-wage work.

GOAL C: Improve the quality of jobs for current and future lower-wage workers.

Now, it is time to dig into the findings, learn from pilot projects and talk about what it will take to implement the Bay Area’s vision of economic prosperity for everyone.In a series of five meetings around the Bay Area, we will focus on these three goals and invite all stakeholders to share in implementing this vision for the Bay Area. This is your chance to shape how we collectively move forward.

EPS Workshop #1: Expanding Economic Opportunity through Basic Skills and Entrepreneurship

Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Monument Impact, (Formerly Michael Chavez Center & Monument Community Partnership), 2699 Monument Blvd, Ste G Concord, CA 94520

• Expanding job-focused basic skills training

• Improving career navigation systems and supporting pathways, at the k-12 level and beyond

• Focusing on business formation and expansion

Hear from pilot projects including: the Michael Chavez Center in Concord, the Multi-cultural Institute’s three County day laborer program, the Allies for Innovation basic skills collaborative in Santa Clara and San Mateo, a worker cooperative project in the East Bay and an entrepreneurship program in Sonoma.

EPS Workshop #2: Building Career Pathways in the Construction Sector

Thursday, January 15, 2015, 9:30-11:30 a.m.  Redwood City Library, 1044 Middlefield Road, Redwood City 94063

• Focus on the Construction Sector

• Establishing industry-driven, sector-based regional training partnerships.

• Pursuing Project Labor Agreements and Community Benefits Ordinances

Hear from the Construction Careers Initiative, an industry driven pre-apprenticeship program in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, from local developers and from Building and Construction Trades Councils about initiatives to improve construction sector wages and working conditions and create comprehensive packages of community benefits as new projects are planned and built.

EPS Workshop #3: The Invisible Workforce: Strategies to Lift Up the Low-Wage Contracted Service Sector

Friday, January 23, 2015, 10 a.m. -12 p.m., Pipe Trades Training Center, 780 Commercial Street, San Jose, CA 95112

• Upgrading conditions in lower-wage jobs

• Organizing and professionalizing industries

• Emerging approaches to improving working conditions in contracted service jobs

Hear about issues in several predominantly low-wage industries in the Bay Area, particularly contracted service industries which tend to grow in the “footprint” of driving industries and often remain below the radar. Discuss emerging approaches that address these issues, regional implications of these trends and how to build stronger coordination across cities and sectors that are dealing with the growth of low-wage contracted service work.

EPS Workshop #4:  Coordination between Economic and Workforce Development, Transportation and Housing Plans

Monday, January 26, 2015, 2-4 p.m. SPUR Urban Center, 654 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-4015

• A Vision for Economic Prosperity for Everyone

• Cross-Sector Collaborations

• Regional and Sub-regional policies

Hear from regional policy makers, local jurisdictional leaders, workforce and economic development agencies and the researchers and drafters of the economic prosperity strategy.

EPS Workshop #5: Planning for Manufacturing, Logistics and Industrial Job Growth

Monday, February 2, 2015, 2-4 p.m.  Metropolitan Transportation Commission, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, California 94607

• Focus on the Logistics and Goods Movement Sectors

• Develop land use plans that support transit-oriented jobs, industrial uses and housing.

• Develop a regional strategy to preserve and invest in industrial land.

Hear from regional planners about planned investments in goods movement infrastructure, from local jurisdictions engaged in sub-regional strategies like the Port of Oakland and the Northern Waterfront Initiative and Design It, Build It, Ship It, an industry-led workforce and economic development collaborative.

Sources: UC Labor Program Studies of Minimum Wage for City of Los Angeles

Documents: Procure an Economic Analysis – Los Angeles City Council Economic Development Committee

Business Leaders Criticize City’s Choice to Study Minimum Wage Hike – Los Angeles Times – January 8, 2015

Minimum Wage Consultant Pick Draws ComplaintsLos Angeles Daily News – January 8, 2015

Two L.A. Councilmen Ask to Reconsider Team Set to Study Minimum WageLos Angeles Times – January 9, 2015

L.A. Needs a Fresh Analysis of the Effects of a Minimum-Wage HikeLos Angeles Times (editorial) – January 12, 2015

Sources: San Francisco Bay Area Regional Prosperity Plan – Economic Prosperity Strategy

San Francisco Bay Area Economic Prosperity Strategy

Oakland City Council Informational Report for January 13, 2015 Meeting – Bay Area Regional Prosperity Plan

San Francisco Bay Area Economic Prosperity Strategy Launch Meetings 2015

HUD FY2011 Sustainable Communities Grantees

San Francisco Bay Area Regional Prosperity Plan ABSTRACT

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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicyThis article was originally published in on January 12, 2015 as Taxpayers Fund Biased Policy Justifications for LA Minimum Wage and Bay Area Prosperity Plan.

Caught and Exposed: Secret Union Dealings of a College District

The Rancho Santiago Community College District in Orange County (California) declared in a December 8, 2014 letter that it “unconditionally commits that it will cease, desist from, and not repeat the challenged past action…” That action involves secret dealings with unions.

A construction trade association was willing to threaten litigation to make this happen. And to emphasize its seriousness, the association also made an elected board member accountable to voters for his involvement in the secret dealings. That candidate ended up losing a key election for a California State Senate seat.

What was done wrong? While negotiating a Project Labor Agreement with construction trade unions for future construction contracts, the elected board of trustees for this community college district appeared to violate state law requiring government entities to give public access to its deliberations and actions. The board discussed the proposed content of the Project Labor Agreement in closed session meetings. The public could not know what was happening.

California construction trade unions seemed to be encouraging local governments to discuss embarrassing Project Labor Agreement controversies (such as trade jurisdictional disputes among unions) out of sight of the public. A month before the closed session board meetings at the Rancho Santiago Community College District, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority had been caught also planning to discuss Project Labor Agreement terms and conditions in a closed session meeting.

If this practice continued, it would undermine the public’s ability to comment on Project Labor Agreements.

An attorney representing the Southern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) initiated correspondence with the Rancho Santiago Community College District objecting to the board’s closed session meetings. Objections were based on California Government Code Section 54960 (part of the Ralph M. Brown Act), which authorizes any interested person to seek judicial action to stop or prevent violations or threatened violations of state laws related to open and transparent government conduct.

In response, the president of the college board of trustees provided the following statement:

The Board of Trustees of the Rancho Santiago Community College District has received your cease and desist letter on behalf of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Southern California, Inc. dated October 10, 2014, and clarification letter on November 6, 2014, alleging that the following described past action of the legislative body violates the Ralph M. Brown Act:

• Holding closed session negotiation and discussions regarding the terms of project labor agreements, including the ”Community and Student Workforce Project Agreement.”

In order to avoid unnecessary litigation and without admitting any violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, the Board of Trustees of the Rancho Santiago Community College District hereby unconditionally commits that it will cease, desist from, and not repeat the challenged past action as described above.

But it wasn’t enough just to get a letter from the college district. There needed to be true public accountability for the scheme.

As it pursued the violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, the Southern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors began informing the public about the involvement of community college board member Jose Solorio in the Project Labor Agreement scheme. Solorio was in a highly competitive election for an open State Senate seat.

Here’s a mailer sent to voters in the district.



In the end, Solorio lost the election to Republican Janet Nguyen, allowing Republicans to gain a seat in the California State Senate and deprive Democrats of a supermajority. The college district agreed not to engage in closed session discussions about Project Labor Agreements. And a warning was sent to union officials and their political sycophants about doing their business in secret.


“cease, desist from, and not repeat” letter from President of Board of Trustees of Rancho Santiago Community College District – December 8, 2014

Hiding of Solorio Backed Union Deal Likely To End in Lawsuit – OC Political – November 1, 2014

Ralph M. Brown Act (California Government Code Section 54950-54963)

Will California Union Officials Get to Discuss Project Labor Agreements in Closed Session? – November 26, 2013

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 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.


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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

Federal Money to Ivanpah Solar Power Plant Would Be Prize for Unions

Fairly or not, news media has recently brought negative public attention to the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a $2.2 billion thermal solar power plant built under a union Project Labor Agreement in California’s Mojave Desert.

Owners of Ivanpah (BrightSource Energy, NRG Energy, and Google) have applied for a $539 million tax credit to help repay a $1.6 billion U.S. Department of Energy loan from 2011. Some news sources have asserted that the power plant has failed to meet performance expectations for energy generation while greatly exceeding performance expectations for bird kills.

This public criticism peaked around November 10, the day when construction union officials inopportunely held a press conference to promote public policies to grow a “blue-green” economy in California.

At an electrical union facility in San Leandro (near Oakland), union officials, leaders of the Sierra Club, an Obama Administration official, and a college professor used the press conference to highlight the need for unions to control California’s so-called “green energy” construction and maintenance.

A professor at the University of Utah who regularly produces studies on behalf of construction unions used the press conference to release a new study calling for “stronger labor policies & alliances in order for a just transition to clean energy.” His study reiterates many of the claims in an earlier 2012 study from the University of California Miguel Contreras Labor Program.

What are these policies and alliances? The Ivanpah solar power plant is a typical example of how unions are obtaining monopolies on construction of most green energy generation facilities in California. Merit is not the primary basis for getting the work.

Ivanpah from California Energy Commission websiteBrightSource Energy had submitted an application in August 2007 to the California Energy Commission for construction and operation of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. In December 2007, a phony environmental organization called California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) intervened in the approval process for the power plant.

Throughout 2008, CURE provided status reports to the California Energy Commission about its evaluation of the project and its intent to request data from BrightSource Energy about the environmental impact of the power plant. It was a typical union threat to “greenmail” a developer by objecting to a proposed project on environmental grounds and gumming up the approval process until the developer signs a union agreement.

In December 2009, the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties announced a Project Labor Agreement for construction of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. Union officials had indicated a month earlier that negotiations between the newly-selected general contractor and unions had been completed.

Once the Project Labor Agreement was signed, California Unions for Reliable Energy disappeared. Legitimate environmental organizations were left with the task of protecting the desert tortoise.

An article about Ivanpah in the August 2011 issue of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers national newsletter bragged about the involvement of unions in construction of the power plant:

Marc Joseph, an attorney who has handled negotiations over project labor agreements and has worked to remove obstacles to solar development for the California Building and Construction Trades, estimates that, in California alone, projects on the books will total more than 27 million man-hours of work for the trades…

At California’s Ivanpah Dry Lake in the Mojave near the Nevada border, members of San Bernardino Local 477 are building a solar energy system for BrightSource Energy under a project labor agreement that will provide 4 million man-hours of work to the building trades.

Most outrageous in this article is the cynical praise from the head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California to the California Energy Commission for approving the project without “lengthy delays.”

At a groundbreaking ceremony last October, Bob Balgenorth, president of the state’s Building and Construction Trades Council and former business manager of Santa Ana Local 441, thanked the Obama administration for making available $1.4 billion in Department of Energy loan guarantees and placing Ivanpah on the list of 16 priority clean energy projects. He also praised the California Energy Commission for approving the project, also funded with $300 million from NRG Energy and $168 million from Google, without the lengthy delays that often stymie facility startups.

To see who actually triggers many of those “lengthy delays” at the California Energy Commission, see the 2013 UnionWatch articles Did Unions Hasten Demise of California’s Solar Thermal Power Plants? and Unions Extensively Interfere with California Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant Permitting.

As BrightSource Energy and its partners continue to press for federal grants and repayment extensions on its $1.6 billion federal loan to build Ivanpah, members of Congress should be aware of how unions managed to get control of the construction. Should American taxpayers subsidize a “blue-green economy” based on tactics many Americans would describe as extortion?

Since the majority leaders in the California State Legislature have no interest in constraining union abuse of the state’s environmental laws, perhaps the flow of federal money from Washington, D.C. needs to stop going to projects owned by developers who succumb to union demands in order to evade environmental objections. Withholding federal money might pressure the State of California to curtail the brazen and widespread exploitation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the Warren-Alquist State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Act for purposes unrelated to environmental protection.


Sun Farms Grow IBEW Employment – The Electrical Worker Online – August 2011

Environmental and Economic Benefits of Building Solar in California: Quality Careers— Cleaner Lives – UC Berkeley Labor Center – November 10, 2014

2007-12-21 – Ivanpah Solar – CURE Petition to Intervene
2008-03-21 – Ivanpah Solar – CURE Status Report 1
2008-12-05 – Ivanpah Solar – CURE Status Report 2
2009-11-11 Ivanpah Solar – Inland Solar Project Tapping Large Union Workforce
2009-12-17 Press Release – Project Labor Agreement Signed – Ivanpah Solar

World’s Largest Solar Plant Applying for Federal Grant to Pay Off Federal Loan – Fox News Channel – November 8, 2014

The Top Five Things Some Media Can’t Seem to Remember about Ivanpah – BrightSource blog – November 13, 2014

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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.


The Growing Rift Between Public and Private Sector Unions

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is coasting to reelection with only partial support from organized labor. While many private unions remain in his corner, the state’s major government unions are either declining to support Cuomo’s bid for a second term or have endorsed a challenger. In this respect, Cuomo 2014 resembles New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s hugely successful reelection campaign last year. As Steve Malanga detailed here, Christie received enthusiastic support from building trades unions, whereas public sector unions never forgave him for his first term initiatives on pension and K-12 reform.

Any news about a private v. public split in the labor movement is encouraging, because influence peddling by government unions is far more troubling than when it’s done by private sector unions. Market forces keep corporations, and thus their unions, in check, but cities are monopolies and never go out of business. Government unionization thwarts the will of the voters, by forcing politicians to implement policy through the collective bargaining process instead of legislation. Taxpayers should not have to pay workers extra for administrative changes such as drug testing or a new teacher evaluation system.

But will the trend continue?  Many political coalitions don’t outlive their standard bearers. Bridgegate certainly seems to be testing Christie’s hold over his. And Cuomo is a uniquely talented politician, as attested by the polls, his warchest, his strong support on the left and right, and his ability to make the New York State legislature look effective or at least less dysfunctional.

Here are four factors to consider in considering the potential that other blue state politicians might split the labor movement, to the detriment of public sector unions.

First, recessions are helpful, because they stimulate more conflict between government unions and Democrats than private sector unions and Democrats. Most priorities of private labor—minimum wage, paid leave, making it easier to organize—can be pushed regardless of economic conditions. The arguments may change (“…now more than ever…”) but the goals and their chances at becoming reality probably do not.

As employers, governments must balance their budgets, and so, as policymakers, they simply can’t be as generous with teachers and police unions during recessions. An austerity budgeting regime puts unions on the defensive and sows distrust between them and Democrats. (“Is he doing this pension reform to shore up the retirement system, which is what he told us, or so that he can brag to the business community?”)

Second, the private/public distinction breaks down in the case of private unions that seek rents that effectively transform them into public employee unions. Project Labor Agreements and other union-friendly bidding restrictions on public construction projects make government workers out of employees of unionized construction firms. To regard 1199 SEIU, the most powerful union in New York State, as a private union like the steel or autoworkers would be to overlook the government’s outsized role in healthcare finance.

Third, the Cuomo model is more threatening to unions than the Christie model. Though statistically normal, Republican governorships in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey are still hard not to interpret as aberrations, more the result of Democrats’ bungling than a political paradigm shift. The party remains weak. A blue state Democrat proving he can win and govern without unions provides a model for others to replicate whereas Republican success always seems sui generis.

Fourth, government unions have benefited from the weakness of private unions, which has made them more indispensable. Until private unions can do more for Democrats in the way of money and ground troops, politicians who care about being tagged as anti-worker will be wary of alienating AFSCME, NEA and  AFT.

About the Author:  Stephen Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute’s Center for State and Local Leadership. Steve received his doctorate in political science in Boston College and previously was a Senior Research Associate at the Worcester Regional Research Bureau. His research focuses on public employee unions, retirement benefits, public finance, and urban policy.

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.


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 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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.


Santa Barbara County Jumps On Project Labor Agreement Bandwagon

Today (July 8, 2014), the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement (disguised as a “Project Stabilization Agreement) with the Tri-Counties Building and Construction Trades Council for Phase II of construction of the county’s North Branch Jail and for the Sheriff’s Transition and Reentry (S.T.A.R.) Complex. These would be the first government-mandated Project Labor Agreements in Santa Barbara County.

Union leaders have tried since 2010 to convince the county’s elected board to require construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of contract work. To address unsubstantiated union claims why the county must mandate Project Labor Agreements, the board has passed various measures to encourage local hire and ensure contractor compliance with labor laws. These new policies have not satisfied the unions, nor have they satisfied Supervisor Salud Carbajal, the primary champion on the board for the union agenda. Also jumping onto the quest for a Project Labor Agreement is Central Coast Alliance United for A Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), a leftist community activist organization.

On April 15, 2014, the board voted 5-0 to direct staff to develop a “framework” for negotiating a Project Labor Agreement on the jail project. In its report for the July 8 meeting, the staff warned the Board of Supervisors of potential negative impacts:

At times the use of these agreements has become controversial as the nonunion sectors of the construction industry has grown and as PSAs have been applied to relatively small projects. Critics argue that PSAs place nonunion contractors at a disadvantage in bidding on projects and raise overall project costs. The County of Santa Barbara has never constructed a project with a PSA. There are no guarantees that a PSA will either increase or decrease the cost of construction, nor that it will attract or detract local labor. The General Services Department has developed an Engineers Estimate to construct the Northern Branch Jail AB 900 Phase II Project (Attachment #1) that does not include the provisions required of a PSA…PSAs also require that all contractors working on a project adhere to a collective bargaining agreement; even nonunion contractors must operate under negotiated rules…Establishing a Project Stabilization Agreement will require discussion with various stakeholders and negotiation with the Tri-County Building and Construction Trades Council (TCBT).

Staff also listed numerous issues in Project Labor Agreements with the potential for dispute between the unions and the county.

At the July 8 meeting, Supervisor Salud Carbajal proposed a Project Labor Agreement mandate for contractors on the Sheriff’s Treatment and Re-entry (S.T.A.R.) complex as well as the Northern Branch Jail. Both projects are receiving significant state funding.

Only Supervisor Peter Adam opposed the Project Labor Agreement negotiations. He stated that the county should not be manipulating the employee relations of its construction contractors. Obviously, the other four elected supervisors do believe that governments should mandate their construction contractors to sign agreements with unions as a condition of work.

Material Provided by Staff to Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors:

Letter to Set Hearing

Board Letter

PSA Attachment 1

PSA Attachment 2

PSA Attachment 3

PSA Attachment 4

PSA Attachment 5

Negotiating Spreadsheet


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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

"Staggering" Cost of New High School in California: Project Labor Agreement Blamed

UPDATE – July 29, 2015: According to a Facebook post of the Ventura County Star VCS School Watch,” “about 140 workers are on site six days a week, preparing the $78.2 million Rancho Campana High School for its opening Sept. 2.” And according to a July 29, 2015 Ventura County Star article (“Frantic Pace Kept to Open Rancho Campana High“), “Assistant Superintendent Steve Dickinson said the total cost of the school will be $78.2 million, up from a projected $76.8 million earlier this year. He said most of the increase in cost is due to a decision to install pavers on the campus grounds instead of just concrete.”

These numbers are far higher than the “staggering cost” reported below.

Sometimes you can predict the future.

In the fall of 2013, business and taxpayer organizations warned the elected board of the Oxnard Union High School District in Ventura County (north of Los Angeles, on the coast) that it would endure reduced bid competition and higher construction costs if it required companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the Tri-County Building and Construction Trades Council as a condition of working on the Rancho Campana High School construction project.

The union-backed proposal abruptly emerged at the board’s October 9 meeting and consumed the board and district administrators for more than two months.

In 2004, voters had approved Measure H, authorizing the district to borrow $135 million via bond sales for construction of two new schools and modernization of existing schools. Ten years later, the district was ready to use Measure H bond proceeds to build the new Rancho Campana High School at an estimated construction cost of $42-45 million.

On October 23, the school district awarded a lease-leaseback contract for construction to the local construction company S.C. Anderson. This contractor then waited to see if a divided board would mandate a union Project Labor Agreement in its bid documents.

At their November 20, 2013 public meeting, board members bickered with district administrators and among themselves over language to be included in the Project Labor Agreement. They scheduled a special board meeting for Monday, November 25 at 5:00 p.m. to approve a final negotiated version of a Project Labor Agreement. Staff was told to clear their schedules to meet with union officials and representatives of the lease-leaseback contractor until a deal was reached.

Union political pressure made the deal inevitable. At its November 25 meeting, the board voted 3-2 to tentatively approve a Project Labor Agreement. On December 9, the district’s Citizens Bond Oversight Committee voted 4-1 to recommend that the board reject the final Project Labor Agreement because of the likelihood of increased costs and other reasons. But on December 18, the board again voted 3-2 for the final Project Labor Agreement. Subcontractors then submitted bids to S.C. Anderson for 49 packages by the January 30, 2014 deadline.

When the board considered the Project Labor Agreement at meetings in the fall of 2013, the meeting room was packed – overflowing with union officials and activists. But only a handful of ordinary citizens were at the February 12, 2014 board meeting to see the results.

Staff presented a preliminary Guaranteed Maximum Price of $58,285,794, about 30% higher than the $45 million at the high range of the estimate.

One school board member called it a “staggering amount” and a “setback” for the school district. Staff for the district’s construction management firm identified four factors in a written report (and identified an additional factor at the board meeting) that likely contributed to the price far above the estimate.

The “biggest factor” cited was the government-mandated Project Labor Agreement. Local subcontractors told district staff and the lease-leaseback contractor that they declined to bid because of the district’s Project Labor Agreement mandate. Staff also insinuated that subcontractors for some trades became aware of the lack of bid competition and inflated their bid amounts. (Go to 1:15:30 of the board meeting video to hear these remarks.)

Most damaging was the electrical package, the most expensive of the 49 packages. There were three bids very close to each other, but those three bids were double the original estimate. Is it any surprise that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) aggressively lobbies elected officials at California local governments to mandate Project Labor Agreements?

This result is consistent with the results of a comprehensive economic study (Measuring the Cost of Project Labor Agreements on School Construction in California) published in July 2011 by the National University System Institute for Policy Research in San Diego.  It concluded that the cost of California school construction under Project Labor Agreements is 13 to 15 percent higher than when school districts do not mandate Project Labor Agreements. Union leaders and their academic sycophants continually try to undermine the credibility of this study, but anecdotal evidence continually confirms that the study is accurate.

Project Labor Agreements cut bid competition and raise construction costs, for the benefit of unions at the expense of taxpayers. You can predict the future.


Minutes of November 20, 2013 board meeting

Minutes of November 25, 2013 special board meeting

Minutes of December 9, 2013 board meeting (includes Oversight Committee recommendation against the Project Labor Agreement)

Consideration of Approval of Final Project Stabilization Agreement for Rancho Campana High School Construction Project (Staff Report and Proposed Project Labor Agreement for December 18, 2013 board meeting)

Minutes of December 18, 2013 board meeting

Video of February 12, 2014 board meeting

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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.


How a Basketball Arena Would Expand the Unionized Workforce in Sacramento: Part 1

Proponents of a proposed $447 million new “entertainment and sports center” in downtown Sacramento for the Kings professional basketball team claim the arena itself would generate over 4,000 full-time jobs, including employees hired temporarily for construction, employees for operations of the arena, and other outside service jobs related to arena events and activities. Proponents also claim that 11,700 total jobs would be created through construction and permanent employment at ancillary downtown development around the arena.

Unions want to represent every one of those workers who are not legitimately classified as management. Their plan is not to attain control of these jobs through merit or through selling the benefits of unionism to workers, but through backroom deals. These deals include an already-implemented Project Labor Agreement, a proposed Community Benefit Agreement, and other side agreements for employee retention and employer neutrality in organizing campaigns.

This is Part One, explaining the background of how construction trade unions have already obtained a monopoly on the construction workforce for the arena itself. Part Two will explain the union plot to monopolize the service jobs at the arena. Part Three will address the construction and permanent jobs at the ancillary development around the arena.

Kings Arena

Construction of the Arena

Project Labor Agreement Long Expected

As far back as October 2003, Sacramento construction trade union officials were alluding to their desire for a Project Labor Agreement on a possible new Kings basketball arena. Groups such as the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Western Electrical Contractors Association began efforts to try to preserve fair and open competition.

For union leaders, it would be a matter of pride to declare this high-profile project as built exclusively by union workers. In addition, the sheer size of the project would pour large amounts of money into union political operations via dues and employer payments to labor-management cooperation committees. It would help all unions in the region to accelerate the political conversion of Sacramento’s suburbs from Republican federal, state, and local representation to union-backed Democrat representation.

For more detail on this early stage of the fight for fair and open competition on a new Sacramento Kings arena, see The Union Quest for a Project Labor Agreement on a New Sacramento Kings Basketball Arena: Part One – 2006

An Attempt to Prohibit Project Labor Agreements in the City of Sacramento Fails

In 2011, a coalition of construction associations, taxpayer groups, and other business interests collected signatures on petitions for ballot measures to prohibit the County of Sacramento and the City of Sacramento from entering into contracts that required construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements as a condition of work. Local governments throughout the state were adopting these “Fair and Open Competition” policies through voter initiatives or elected boards.

Unions responded with a massive radio advertising campaign to scare people into not signing petitions, along with relentless in-person harassment of signature gatherers and other antics to interfere with the campaign. Then they shoved a last-minute gut-and-amend bill through the California legislature (Senate Bill 922) that nullified all Fair and Open Competition charter provisions and ordinances for counties and general law cities. It also cut off state funding to charter cities that had such policies. Because Sacramento was a charter city, the Fair and Open Competition – Sacramento campaign continued to collect signatures for the city ordinance. It submitted petitions with a total number of signatures well over the amount needed, but the measure failed to qualify in January 2012 because an astonishing number of the signatures were not valid. Union leaders gloated.

The Way Is Clear for a Project Labor Agreement

With voters no longer a threat to the union goal to impose a Project Labor Agreement, plots could proceed. A March 2012 resolution for an arena deal with potential team owners (which subsequently derailed) had an unannounced and unexpected provision for a Project Labor Agreement and Community Benefit Agreement tacked on the end through a city councilmember’s amendment, with no opportunity for public comment. See Out of Nowhere: Project Labor Agreement and Community Benefit Agreement Tacked on End of Motion for New Sacramento Kings Basketball Arena.

A “Request For Proposal For Lead Contractor” issued on June 21, 2013 by a new set of team owners informed prospective respondents that “The Contractor shall also meet and negotiate with local labor regarding a possible Project Labor Agreement for the ESC,” that is, the “entertainment and sports center.” In addition, respondents are asked to “Please describe your experience, if any, with labor on construction projects in northern California including, without limitation, negotiations with labor and the results, the size of the project, and project labor agreements.”

Announcement of a Backroom Union Deal

The public relations firm told us to celebrate the Project Labor Agreement.

The public relations firm told us to celebrate the Project Labor Agreement.

On September 4, 2013, a public relations firm hired by the Sacramento Kings (Mercury Public Affairs) informed local news media with only a few hours notice about a press conference to announce a special deal with the Sacramento-Sierra’s Building and Construction Trades Council. This deal was the long-anticipated Project Labor Agreement.The press conference featured Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, top union officials, and top Kings team officials. Their consultants were even successful in “working on getting a few women there.” But also in attendance at the press conference were uninvited protesters from local non-union construction companies.

These opponents of the backroom union deal spoiled the visual impact by holding signs and banners on the balconies overlooking the atrium where the press conference was held. At the end of the official press conference, protesters then held their own impromptu press conference (using their opponents’ unsecured audio equipment) to condemn the Project Labor Agreement and call for the arena to be built instead in the suburbs, away from union influence and backroom deals. This high-profile celebration of union political power turned into a debacle.

Protest of Sacramento Kings Arena Project Labor Agreement - September 4, 2013

Following the press conference, non-union contractors circulated a memo entitled “Eight Steps to Possibly Alleviate Taxpayer and Contractor Outrage about the Backroom Deal for a Project Labor Agreement on Construction of the Sacramento Kings Arena.” Neither the Kings nor the City of Sacramento responded.

Motivation for the Backroom Union Deal

Although no one directly involved in the proposal, negotiation, or execution of the Project Labor Agreement has explicitly admitted it in public, most informed observers claim the union deal was mainly intended to neutralize the threat of construction unions exploiting the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to delay permitting for the arena through comments, appeals, and lawsuits. Political and business leaders recognized that construction trade unions in Sacramento routinely engage in “greenmail” to hold up projects until the developer provides economic concessions (usually a Project Labor Agreement). Some recent examples within the City of Sacramento included the Railyards project and the Greenbriar and Delta Shores developments.

Once unions had control of the arena construction work, their lobbyists at the state capitol had no objections when State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (who represents downtown Sacramento) pushed through a bill (Senate Bill 743) in the last days of the 2013 California legislative session. This bill provided special breaks under CEQA to the Kings arena to hinder the efforts of other interest groups to hold up the project with environmental objections.

Perhaps this scheme satisfied construction unions, but it did not discourage Unite Here Local No. 49 from submitting objections to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Kings Arena. Nor did SB 743 discourage community organizations from submitting objections to the DEIR with the open intent of seeking a Community Benefit Agreement for the ancillary development around the arena.

Other parties even asserted in their DEIR comments that SB 743 was unconstitutional and that the arena did not actually qualify as a project under the criteria set in SB 743. If a court later agrees with these claims, a new environmental impact report will need to be drafted, and SB 743 will ironically end up jeopardizing the project altogether.

No Public Accountability or Transparency Allowed

To this day, the Sacramento City Council has never discussed or voted on the Project Labor Agreement. Even more offensive, the Project Labor Agreement has never been released for the public to review, despite Mayor Johnson citing the agreement in his State of the City address on February 12. Tweets from the State of the City event indicated that some people misheard Mayor Johnson claim that arena construction would employ “sex-offenders,” although the Project Labor Agreement apparently includes a provision to employ “ex-offenders.”

Rumors get started when backroom deals remain a secret even as they are promoted as policy accomplishments. Why is it so important to withhold this celebrated deal on a public works project from the people who will be paying for a majority of it, plus the interest on the money borrowed through the city’s sale of revenue bonds?

In addition to being an accomplishment of the city’s chief elected executive, the mysterious Project Labor Agreement has also become relevant for litigation in the state courts involving the city. The Sacramento-Sierra’s Building and Construction Trades Council cited the Project Labor Agreement as the basis for justifying its February 14, 2014 amicus brief in defense of the city’s decision not to qualify a ballot measure requiring voter approval of public subsidies for the arena.

A request to the City of Sacramento for the Project Labor Agreement under the authority of the California Public Records Act failed to produce it.

Cost Impact Is Likely But Not Acknowledged to Date

A non-binding term-sheet between the Kings and the City of Sacramento dated March 26, 2013 provides for a $258 million subsidy for the Entertainment and Sports Center. Under state law, this subsidy means that the arena is a public works project, and contractors would be required to pay prevailing wage rates based on union labor agreements.

The Project Labor Agreement will go beyond this wage requirement to cut bid competition and raise costs even further. As an additional contractual obligation, the Project Labor Agreement will require contractors to obtain workers from unions and pay fringe benefits and other payments into union trust funds.

Various studies, anecdotes, and common sense have suggested that Project Labor Agreements raise the cost of construction projects by about 15%. The March 26, 2013 non-binding term sheet for the arena stated a total cost of $447 million. Did that amount account for the reduction in bid competition resulting from a Project Labor Agreement mandate?

An Aggressive Response from Supporters of Fair and Open Competition

In Sacramento, non-union contractors dominate electrical work on public works and commercial construction. Knowing that public opinion in the City of Sacramento is strongly against providing $258 million in public funding to billionaire team owners and professional basketball players, a group of large Sacramento-based non-union contractors provided essential funding to a new organization (Voters for a Fair Arena Deal) created to finish collecting signatures on petitions to put a measure on the June ballot to require a citizen vote to authorize any public subsidies for entertainment and sports facilities.  Residents of the City of Sacramento await a judge’s ruling on whether they will get to vote in June on this ballot measure. (See “Voter Approval for Public Funding of Professional Sports Arena Act”)

On February 26, 2014, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge agreed with the City of Sacramento and ruled that petitions for a vote on public subsidies contained too many inconsistencies and interfered with the city’s charter authority. Citizens will not have a chance to vote on the public subsidy, whether it is $258 million or some other amount in the end. See the decision in Camacho v. Concolino.

Meanwhile, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction is demanding that the Sacramento Kings ownership and the Sacramento-Sierra’s Building and Construction Trades Council immediately release to the public a copy of the alleged Project Labor Agreement for the proposed Kings Arena. It threatens to file a lawsuit against the City of Sacramento to get it.

Such a lawsuit could expose some embarrassing background about how and why unions obtained a monopoly on arena construction. In 2013, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction sued the City of San Diego to obtain the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion Project Labor Agreement, another Project Labor Agreement negotiated and executed in a secret backroom deal. In the process, the coalition obtained the actual union deal and the complete list of political payoffs to unions from the San Diego Mayor’s office.


Measuring the Cost of Project Labor Agreements on School Construction in California – study by National University System Institute for Policy Research in San Diego – July 2011

Proposed, Non-Binding Terms of a Potential Transaction – term sheet between the City of Sacramento and an investor group in order to retain the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball franchise and to develop a new Entertainment and Sports Center (ESC) in downtown Sacramento.

The Renaissance Report economic analysis of the impact of the new entertainment and sports center and related downtown development to Sacramento.

Mayor Kevin Johnson Announces Project Labor Agreement at September 4, 2013 Press Conference, Opposition Has One Too

Senate Bill 743 (2013)

Senate Bill 922 (2011)

Regional Sports and Entertainment Facilities in the Urban Core Attract Costly Political Meddling: Sacramento Kings as a Case Study – – December 16, 2013

September 4, 2013 Sacramento Kings Arena Project Labor Agreement Final Press Kit – “Great…let’s circulate to key folks.”

September 3, 2013 Sacramento Kings Arena Project Labor Agreement Press Conference – “working on getting a few women there” Re Labor Presser Check-In 

September 4, 2013 – Press Conference Announcing Project Labor Agreement for New Sacramento Kings Arena – Final Press Kit

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Calls for Public Access to Backroom Union Deal Imposed on Proposed Sacramento Kings Arena – Press Release – February 19, 2014

February 14, 2014 – Sacramento-Sierra Building and Construction Trades Council – Amicus Curiae – Kings Arena Vote

January 31, 2014 Unite Here Local 49 CEQA Comments – Sacramento Kings Arena Draft Environmental Impact Report

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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.


Sabotaged: North Bay Business Journal On-Line Poll on Project Labor Agreement

On January 22, 2014, the North Bay Business Journal (covering Sonoma, Marin, and Napa counties in California) began an on-line “Pulse Poll” asking readers to vote on whether they supported a proposed government mandate for construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of working on Sonoma County projects over $10 million. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors had scheduled a vote on the policy for its January 28 meeting.

The number of votes accelerated rapidly as word of the poll spread throughout the country. Tweets were sent from union organizations as far away as Philadelphia and New Hampshire urging people to vote.

By January 26, there were 10,068 Yes votes and 8,620 No votes, with a small number of people voting “I Don’t Know.”

Over the weekend, the number of Yes votes surged. Then on January 27 the North Bay Business Journal suspended the poll and posted this message:

To our readers,

Our online reader poll on project labor agreements, an issue that is now before the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, drew an approximately 26,000 votes since launched Wednesday, Jan. 22. Thank you to all of you who participated with your vote on this important issue.

However, based on a review of the voting traffic patterns of the poll, we have concluded that the system in place to ensure a single vote from a single browser was compromised. Thus, the poll results — and any conclusions one tries to draw from them for or against — are invalid.

Again, thank you to our readers who took the time to vote.

Brad Bollinger, Publisher
Jan. 27, 2014

It was only an unscientific on-line poll conducted by a suburban weekly business newspaper with circulation between 6,000 and 8,000. But based on this incident, would you be in favor of an “Employee Free Choice Act” that would allow “card check” union organizing to replace a secret ballot election for unionization overseen by the National Labor Relations Board?

The board approved the Project Labor Agreement policy on a 4-0 vote.

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 Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.