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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 www.UnionWatch.org 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
Enrollment
2013-2014
RankDistrictTotal
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
TOTAL6,180,666

 


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

Union Backroom Deal on Convention Center Pays Off in San Diego

Only a few advocates of fiscal responsibility and limited government have comprehensively and widely engaged in the business of state and local governments in California over many years. They recognize with dismay that union leaders and their cronies have become adept at evading the constraints of republican constitutional government. Unions have learned how to circumvent the parts of the legislative process where objections can be registered in an official decision-making public forum.

State agencies and local governments are borrowing huge amounts of money from Wall Street through bond sales to fund construction projects tangled up in “Progressive” dreams to remake society through the coercive power of Government. The public can’t find out what is happening and lacks an effective legislative vehicle to stop it once they know. And the business establishment, union leaders, and politicians are fine with that. They don’t want “Tea Party” people spoiling the lucrative vision that future generations of California (and American) taxpayers will pay back, with interest.

The latest proof is in San Diego, where on October 10 the California Coastal Commission approved a request of the United Port of San Diego to amend its Master Plan to allow a $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and a new 500-room second hotel tower for the adjacent Hilton Bayfront Hotel. This ends legislative obstacles to the project. (There are still a couple of stray lawsuits for expansion supporters to fend off.)

As noted by local news media after the vote, in 2012 union leaders were the strongest opponents of the convention center expansion. UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 filed a lawsuit contending that the financing mechanism for the project was illegal. The San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and affiliated unions – through the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo – submitted lengthy comments and exhibits claiming that the Port’s environmental reviews violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

No one was fooled into believing that unions wanted to protect taxpayers and save the planet. In June 2012, 58% of voters in the City of San Diego approved Proposition A, a “Fair and Open Competition” ordinance that prohibited the city from entering into contracts that required construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions.

In response, the winning design-build entity for the project (selected somewhat subjectively through “best value” criteria) indicated in its proposal that it would be willing to work around the law if necessary. And of course it was necessary.

When the Board of Port Commissioners approved the convention center expansion and environmental review at its September 19, 2012 meeting, lawyers for unions submitted more environmental complaints. Lorena Gonzalez spoke out against it as the head of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. (She would be elected to the California State Assembly in a special election several months later.) During a break in the meeting for staff to analyze the new union objections, she was in the hallway talking with San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.

On September 21, a scheduled meeting was on the mayor’s calendar to discuss a proposed deal emailed that morning from a private email account of his chief of staff to Lorena Gonzalez. Here are the terms of the deal:

San Diego Convention Center Union Deal

The-Moment-of-LIE-San-Diego-Convention-Center-Project-Labor-Agreement1-e1353109801912On November 8, Mayor Sanders, Lorena Gonzalez, and other key officials held a press conference to announce settlement agreements. Unions were withdrawing their lawsuits and committed to stop objecting to the project on environmental grounds. In response to reporters’ questions, it was admitted that construction companies would be required to sign a Project Labor Agreement to build the convention center expansion. (The San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council finally had to issue a press release on November 16 acknowledging and defending it.) Also on that same day, Mayor Sanders appointed Rabbi Laurie Coskey, the Executive Director of the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, to the San Diego Convention Center board of directors.

Protest Against San Diego Convention Center Project Labor AgreementOpponents of the Project Labor Agreement then held a press conference outside the convention center with hundreds of workers to condemn the deal. A web site was established called www.SanDiegoConventionCenterScam.com to inform the public about the unsavory aspects of the planned convention center expansion.  And after months of fruitless requests for relevant public records, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction filed a lawsuit against the city and managed to obtain the actual Project Labor Agreement and a limited amount of evidence proving that a deal occurred between the mayor and the head of the unions.

It didn’t matter: for the pragmatists seeking to make money as a result of this expansion, deals with extortionists were simply a cost of doing business. Featured at the October 10 Coastal Commission meeting were hours of public comment from downtown business and union leaders supporting the convention center expansion, without one word mentioned about the union deals. (One unelected and unaccountable declared representative of the mayor’s office even made a strange financial commitment during the meeting of $500,000 of public money to something.)

At the end of the meeting, the very last speaker spoiled the carefully-constructed community consensus.

Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, used his brief speaking time to reveal the union abuse of environmental laws (aka “greenmail”), the backroom deal that gave unions monopoly control of construction and other privileges (including a specific political appointment), and the brazen circumvention of state and local laws. He submitted more than 700 pages of documents showing exactly what happened.

Establishment leaders in the room were livid. Union representatives booed and screamed insults after he finished his comments. One commissioner said he was new and inquired if the Coastal Commission had mandated the Project Labor Agreement. The commission then ignored the negative recommendation of its staff and unanimously approved the convention center expansion in front of the jubilant crowd.

Throughout this entire process, elected and appointed officials never held a hearing or voted on the settlement agreements, the union deal, or the Project Labor Agreement. It was all done behind the scenes through backroom deals without the knowledge of the public.

That’s the way business is now done throughout the state, whether it’s California High-Speed Rail, the new arena for the Sacramento Kings basketball team, a new courthouse built by the state judiciary branch, or dozens of solar, wind, and geothermal power generation projects. And the people in power are quite smug that their Progressive vision is finally becoming reality.


Sources

  1. Proposition A  – City of San Diego Fair and Open Competition Ordinance
  2. Clark-Hunt RFP to Manage Labor Relations for the Benefit of the City and Project
  3. Union Comments on Draft Environmental Impact Report – Letter – June 29, 2012
  4. Union Comments on Draft Environmental Impact Report – Exhibits – June 29, 2012
  5. Union Comments on Final Environmental Impact Report – Letter – September 19, 2012
  6. Scheduled Meeting for Union Deal – September 21, 2012
  7. Union Deal with Mayor’s Office – September 21, 2012
  8. Settlement Agreement – Building Trades Unions – November 8, 2012
  9. Settlement Agreement – UNITE-HERE Union Local 30 – November 8, 2012
  10. Settlement Agreement – Various Construction Trade Unions – November 8, 2012
  11. Mayor’s Appointment to San Diego Convention Center Corporation Board of Directors – November 8, 2012
  12. Press Release of San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council – November 15, 2012
  13. Lawsuit to Obtain Copy of Union Project Labor Agreement on San Diego Convention Center Expansion
  14. Project Labor Agreement for San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion
  15. Letter of Support from San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council – September 12, 2013
  16. Key Support Letters for Convention Center Expansion to California Coastal Commission

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

California Construction Unions Circumvent Public Scrutiny of Project Labor Agreements

A common and enduring complaint of the political Left is that constitutional structures established in the country’s republican form of government hinder progress and subvert the democratic will of the people.

According to such thinking, those constitutional structures need to be reformed and modernized so that government can be more “democratic.” A few astute political observers in California have noticed that unions and their political allies are advancing strategies at the state and local government levels that effectively chip away at checks and balances inherent in the structure of American constitutional government.

One example is the end of public deliberation and votes for Project Labor Agreements in the legislative branch of state and local governments. Instead, backroom deals are made in the executive branch to give unions control of the work.

In the past year, Project Labor Agreements have been imposed on four large publicly-funded construction projects without any public deliberation or votes. In some cases, the public has been denied access to the Project Labor Agreement.

1. San Diego County New Central Courthouse
Judicial Council of California – Administrative Office of the Courts
May 2013
$560 million in public funds

San Diego County New Central Courthouse Project Labor Agreement

No formal public discussion or vote on it. Repeated requests at Judicial Council meetings and to Administrative Office of the Courts staff for a public vote have been futile.

How Project Labor Agreement was implemented:

Background:

  • Judicial Council of California Imposes Project Labor Agreement on San Diego Courthouse – www.UnionWatch.org – June 8, 2013
  • Courthouse to be Built Under Labor Pact – San Diego Union-Tribune – June 7, 2013
  • I’ve Failed So Far in Seeking the Project Labor Agreement from the California Administrative Office of the Courts for the New San Diego Central Courthouse – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – July 10, 2013
  • Not Accountable for Project Labor Agreement – Until Now: Mailers Inform Judges About Union Deal of Administrative Office of the Courts – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – June 24, 2013
  • Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction to Hold Press Conference – June 20, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. – Condemning San Diego Courthouse Project Labor Agreement – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – June 20, 2013
  • Union Quest for Project Labor Agreements from Judicial Council of California and Administrative Office of the Courts Succeeds with San Diego County Central Courthouse  – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – June 8, 2013
2. San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion
City of San Diego
November 2012
$520 million in public funds

San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion Project Labor Agreement

No formal public discussion or vote on it. Appears to be a violation of a voter-approved city ordinance prohibiting the city from entering into contracts that require companies to sign Project Labor Agreements.

How Project Labor Agreement was implemented: Secret Deal between Mayor and Union Official to End Union Lawsuit and CEQA Objections to San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion

Lawsuit filed by Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction to get Project Labor Agreement after repeated rejections of public records requests: Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction v. City of San Diego

Background:

3. California High-Speed Passenger Train – First Construction Segment (Madera to Fresno)
California High-Speed Rail Authority
December 2012
$985 million in public funds

California High-Speed Rail Project Labor Agreement (Community Benefits Agreement) 2012

No formal public discussion or vote on it. Repeated requests at California High-Speed Rail Authority meetings for a public vote have been futile.

Bid specifications require prime contractor to sign Project Labor Agreement, so there is a government mandate to sign it.

California High-Speed Train Project – Request for Proposal for Design-Build Services

Background:

4. New Sacramento Kings Arena (Entertainment and Sports Center)
City of Sacramento (Public-Private Partnership)
September 2013
$448 million (includes $258 million in public funds

No formal public discussion or vote on it. Public does not have access to Project Labor Agreement. A proposal circulates to release the Project Labor Agreement to the public and have the Sacramento City Council vote on it.

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

Background:


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

Finally Got It! Secret Union Deal for San Diego Convention Center

Through relentless and tedious persistence and a willingness to disturb “the Establishment” of the country’s eighth most populous city, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (based in California) has finally succeeded in obtaining and exposing a document revealing how the office of former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders (a Republican) arranged a secret and costly deal with Lorena Gonzalez, the former head of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO, to end union-initiated legal obstacles to the $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

Mayor Sanders Calendar September 21 2012As outlined in the September 21, 2012 email from Mayor Sanders’ Chief of Staff Julie Dubick (see text below), unions would drop or settle their environmental objections under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to the proposed San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion. Unions would also drop their lawsuit challenging the structure of a tax assessment to pay back the principal and interest on bonds sold to borrow money for the expansion. Unions would openly and actively support the convention center expansion at the San Diego City Council and at the California Coastal Commission.

In exchange, the San Diego Mayor’s Office would facilitate negotiations between the unions and the construction manager at-risk selected for the project (Clark Construction) for a Project Labor Agreement with construction trade unions. (Yes, this was a classic case of union CEQA “greenmail” that Governor Jerry Brown and the Democrat majority in the California State Legislature apparently want to shield from CEQA reform measures.)

Developing this labor agreement had to be done subtly and undercover. San Diego voters had approved an ordinance (Proposition A) three months earlier that prohibited the city from requiring contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of working on city projects.

Also as part of the deal, the Mayor’s Office would initiate discussions with Marriott hotel management in support of a union position (apparently on behalf of UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30) and appoint someone acceptable to the unions to the San Diego Convention Center Corporation Board of Directors.

The-Moment-of-LIE-San-Diego-Convention-Center-Project-Labor-Agreement1-e1353109801912All of this was done without any public hearings or public votes by any elected or appointed board with any authority over the project. On November 8, Mayor Sanders hastily convened a press conference featuring Lorena Gonzalez to announce that unions now supported the convention center expansion.

On that same day, he appointed Laurie Coskey – the Executive Director of the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice – to the San Diego Convention Center Corporation Board of Directors.

Even the environmental settlements were cynical. Unions ended up abandoning their demand that the Environmental Impact Report address the effect on the convention center expansion of an expected sea level rise caused by global warming. As it turns out, the California Coastal Commission sees this as a legitimate concern. City officials anticipated that the Coastal Commission would promptly approve the project, but this has not happened despite the new union enthusiasm for it.

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction needed nine months to fit this puzzle together. It had repeatedly failed under the authority of the California Public Records Act to obtain any records of substance about the suspected deal, even after filing a lawsuit against the City of San Diego.

Those requests for public records were foiled because the Chief of Staff for the Mayor of San Diego was using a private Gmail address to facilitate meetings between top city officials and top union officials. In fact, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction suspects that a lot more wheeling and dealing between the city and the unions was probably occurring through the use of private email accounts. The people of San Diego still remain ignorant of how their government works in practice. (One could surmise that union officials like it that way.)

This particular case suggests the following list of outrages:

  1. Using private email accounts for public business in order to evade the state’s public records access laws and keep the press and the public uninformed.
  2. Secret and devious arrangements meant to circumvent a city ordinance approved by voters.
  3. Abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to attain economic objectives unrelated to environmental protection.
  4. Subversion of fair and open bid competition by requiring construction contractors to sign a contract with unions as a condition of work.
  5. Union favoritism.
  6. Appointing someone with obvious union connections to a government board in exchange for union support of a project.
  7. Government intervention in the relationship between a private employer and union officials eager to represent its employees (for a price) in exchange for union support of a project.
  8. Potential cost increases on a government project resulting from reduced bid competition and the administrative costs of an unnecessary labor contract.
  9. Abandonment of environmental objections subsequently identified by the California Coastal Commission to be legitimate concerns.
  10. Perpetuating civic decline by surrendering to organizations that exploit California’s burdensome legal code for personal gain.

Lorena Gonzalez SignLessons for the Next Generation

Mayor Jerry Sanders left office (to be replaced by Bob Filner) with a legacy of achievement and is now President & CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Lorena Gonzalez left her union position with a legacy of achievement and won a special election to the California State Assembly, District 80, with the heartfelt campaign slogan “Honesty in the Assembly.”


Here is the text of the document revealing the secret union deal for the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion:

From: Dubick, Julie
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2012 9:46 AM
To: ‘LGonzalez@unionyes.org’; ‘tklein@unionyes.org’
Subject: Doc3[1 ].docx
Attachments: Doc31 doc.docx

From: Dubick, Julie
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2012 9:47 AM
To: ‘Stephen Cushman’
Subject: Doc3[1] .docx
Attachments: Doc31 doc.docx

Here is suggested language. Please confirm receipt to jpdubick@gmail.com. See you at 2pm today. Julie

San Diego Convention Center Union Deal

Primary Source Documents:

Proposition A (approved by 58% of San Diego voters in June 2012) – City of San Diego Fair and Open Competition ordinance – prohibition on city-mandated Project Labor Agreements

Browning vs. The San Diego City Council (UNITE HERE Local 30 lawsuit)

Union Comments on Draft Environmental Impact Report for San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – June 29, 2012

Union Comments on Final Environmental Impact Report for San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – September 19, 2012

Settlement Agreement – Building Trades Unions – San Diego Convention Center – 2012 (ENVIRONMENTAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT FOR THE CONVENTION CENTER PHASE III EXPANSION AND EXPANSION HOTEL PROJECT BY CITY OF SAN DIEGO; SAN DIEGO COALITION FOR A BETTER CONVENTION CENTER; SAN DIEGO COUNTY BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION TRADES COUNCIL; UNITE HERE LOCAL 30; AND BILLIE JOHNSON)

Settlement Agreement – UNITE-HERE Union Local 30 – San Diego Convention Center – 2012 (SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT FOR THE CONVENTION CENTER PHASE III EXPANSION AND EXPANSION HOTEL PROJECT BY AND BETWEEN CITY OF SAN DIEGO; BRIGETTE BROWNING; SERGIO GONZALES; AND UNITE HERE LOCAL 30)

Settlement Agreement – Various Construction Trade Unions – San Diego Convention Center – 2012 (ENVIRONMENTAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT FOR THE CONVENTION CENTER PHASE III EXPANSION AND EXPANSION HOTEL PROJECT BY CITY OF SAN DIEGO; CITY OF SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL; SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER FACILITIES DISTRICT NO. 2012-1; COALITION FOR RESPONSIBLE CONVENTION CENTER PLANNING; TERRY LUTNICK; CINNA BROWN; AARON MICHAELSON; INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRIC (sic) WORKERS LOCAL 569; UNITED ASSOCIATION OF PLUMBERS & STEAMFITTERS LOCAL 230; SHEETMETAL WORKERS LOCAL 206; AND IRONWORKERS LOCAL 229)

San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion Project Labor Agreement

San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council press release celebrating the Project Labor Agreement on the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion – November 15, 2012

Comprehensive Background:

www.SanDiegoConventionCenterScam.com

It’s Out in the Open: Project Labor Agreement a Costly Possibility for San Diego Convention Center Expansion – www.TheTruthaboutPLAs.com – March 11, 2011

Unions Submit 436 Pages of Objections to Draft Environmental Impact Report for Proposed San Diego Convention Center Phase III Expansion Project: CEQA Abuse Run Rampant – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – August 8, 2012

Brazen! Union Officials and Their Environmental Lawyers at Port Commissioners’ Meeting Threaten to Stop San Diego Convention Center Expansion Using California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – September 20, 2012

Unions Threaten Environmental Litigation to Block San Diego Convention Center – www.UnionWatch.org – September 20, 2012

Union Officials Intimidate San Diego Civic Leaders – www.FlashReport.org – September 20, 2012

CEQA Greenmail Still Effective for Unions in San Diego: Just a Cost of Doing Business for Pragmatic Civic Leaders – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – October 10, 2012

Unions Get Control of San Diego Convention Center Expansion: CEQA Abuse Is Effective, Fair and Open Competition Ordinance Evaded – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – November 8, 2012

Unions and Mayor in San Diego Brag to the Public about San Diego Convention Center Construction Deal, But Refuse to Provide It to the Public – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – November 13, 2012

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Obtains City of San Diego Settlement Agreements with Unions for Convention Center – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – November 15, 2012

San Diego Union Officials Ignored Global Warming-Related Sea Level Rise in Environmental Settlements for San Diego Convention Center Expansion, Despite Identifying It as Major Deficiency Under CEQA – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – November 15, 2012

San Diego News Media Reports on Aggressive Opposition to Project Labor Agreement on Convention Center Expansion – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – November 16, 2012

Where is the Project Labor Agreement for the San Diego Convention Center Expansion? A Press Conference Outlining an Action Plan – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – November 16, 2012

Website Dedicated to Exposing Wasteful and Fraudulent Nature of San Diego Convention Center Expansion – San Diego Rostra – January 16, 2013

Highlighting the Top Union Abuses of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – www.FlashReport.org – February 18, 2013

Persistent Pressure Compels San Diego to Spit Out Project Labor Agreement – www.UnionWatch.org – April 23, 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 www.laborissuessolutions.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.

Election Gains for California Unions in 2012 Drive Push for Project Labor Agreements

The explosion of Project Labor Agreements on government projects in California since the November 6 elections is not surprising to long-time observers of labor union initiatives at local governments.

In the six months after the November 2008 Presidential Election, emboldened and confident construction trade unions won Project Labor Agreements at eleven local governments in California. It was a dramatic upsurge from the usual handful of Project Labor Agreements that California local governments had considered each year.

Four years later, the November 2012 Presidential Election once again expanded and solidified gains for union-backed candidates at local governments in California. And again, the result is a flurry of new government requirements that construction companies sign Project Labor Agreements with unions as a condition of contract work. Here’s a timeline of Project Labor Agreement activity in California since November 6.

November 6: voter approval of Proposition Z means that the San Diego Unified School District extends an existing Project Labor Agreement with the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council to construction funded by an additional $2.8 billion in bond sales, as directed by a resolution passed by the board of directors on July 24, 2012.

November 8: union officials and representatives of the outgoing Mayor of San Diego triumphantly announce a “deal” that ends union environmental objections to the planned San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion. A November 15 press release from the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council confirms that contractors will now be required to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of working on the expansion. The City of San Diego refuses to provide the Project Labor Agreement to the public.

December 11: the board of trustees for Milpitas Unified School District approves a Project Labor Agreement with the Santa Clara and San Benito Building and Construction Trades Council.

December 26: a Project Labor Agreement is finalized and then added as Addendum 8 to the bid specifications for the first construction segment of California High-Speed Rail, without discussion or a vote by the High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors.

January 24: the board of trustees of Coast Community College District in Orange County discusses a Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council.

February 6: the board of trustees of the Solano Community College District hears a scheduled staff presentation about a Project Labor Agreement with the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council.

February 6: the board of trustees of Coast Community College District hears a scheduled staff presentation about a Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council. The board appoints a task force to study the issue and return with a report.

February 12: the board of trustees for Lynwood Unified School District approves a Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council.

February 13: the board of trustees for Ohlone Community College District in Fremont approves a Project Labor Agreement with the Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council.

March 6: the board of trustees of Solano Community College District hears formal scheduled presentations from groups supporting and opposing a Project Labor Agreement.

March 6: the board of trustees for El Monte Union High School District votes 3-2 to table consideration of a Project Labor Agreement negotiated with the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trade Council.

March 6: multiple speakers tell the board of trustees of Coast Community College District during general public comment that they oppose a proposed Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trade Council.

March 12: the board of trustees for San Francisco Unified School District directs staff to develop a local contracting and hiring policy to include in a planned Project Labor Agreement with the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council.

March 19: the board of trustees for Hartnell Community College District in Salinas discusses a Project Labor Agreement with the Monterey/Santa Cruz Building and Construction Trades Council.

March 19: the El Monte City Council approves a Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles and Orange County Building Trades Council.

April 1: the board of trustees for Rancho Santiago Community College District votes 5-2 to begin negotiations for a Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council.

April 3: the board of trustees of Coast Community College District again discusses a Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council. On a 3-2 vote, the board rejects a proposal to begin negotiating a Project Labor Agreement with union representatives and again instructs the task force to study the issue and return with a report.

April 8: the Pasadena City Council approves negotiations for a Project Labor Agreement on the Glenarm Power Plant Repowering Project with the State Building and Construction Trades Council and the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council.

April 9: the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors establishes a Project Labor Agreement Ad-hoc Committee based on a priority set by the board at its February 8 strategic planning session to consider a Project Labor Agreement policy with the Sonoma, Lake & Mendocino Counties Building and Construction Trades Council.

April 10: the board of trustees for El Monte Union High School District pulls from their meeting agenda a scheduled vote on a Project Labor Agreement negotiated with the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trade Council.

April 16: the American Canyon City Council holds a “study session” on a Project Labor Agreement with the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council.

April 16: the board of trustees for the College of Marin approves the expansion of its existing Project Labor Agreement with the Marin Building and Construction Trades Council to include the New Academic Center. The board also holds a “study session” on Project Labor Agreements.

April 23: in response to a lawsuit, the City of San Diego provides the public with a copy of the Project Labor Agreement announced in November 2012 for the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion.

April 23: the board of trustees for the San Francisco Unified School District approves a local contracting and hiring policy to include in a planned Project Labor Agreement with the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council.

April 29: the public obtains records indicating that the Mayor of the City of Fresno asked the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to approve a targeted hiring policy for California High-Speed Rail included in the context of a Project Labor Agreement.

April 30: a task force at Coast Community College District votes to recommend to the full board of trustees that it not require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council.

May 7: the board of trustees for Hartnell Community College District in Salinas votes 4-3 to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement with the Monterey/Santa Cruz Building and Construction Trades Council.

Union officials supporting a Project Labor Agreement get ready for the May 7, 2013 meeting of the Hartnell Community College District board of trustees. "P.L.A. Yes!"

Union officials supporting a Project Labor Agreement get ready for the May 7, 2013 meeting of the Hartnell Community College District board of trustees. “P.L.A. Yes!”


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

Persistent Pressure Compels San Diego to Spit Out Project Labor Agreement

For five months, the City of San Diego refused to give the public a Project Labor Agreement negotiated for its planned $520 million convention center expansion. This union agreement was reportedly the result of a backroom deal involving top union leaders, but multiple requests for it under the authority of the California Public Records Act failed to dislodge it.

But today (April 23, 2013), the city provided the labor agreement to the public, less than 24 hours after a construction organization filed a lawsuit to get it. 

Here are some of the twists and turns of this saga, which serves as an excellent case study in how unions manipulate public policy at the state and local level in California.

In May 2012, the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council submitted a massive objection under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) against the draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion. Four months later, the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council submitted another massive CEQA objection against the revised and final Environmental Impact Report, this time choosing the drama of presenting it during a packed meeting at which San Diego port commissioners were scheduled to approve the project. (Attorneys for unions routinely engage in last-minute CEQA “document dumps” at California public meetings in order to intimidate public officials and developers into surrendering to union economic demands.)

In November 2012, a few days after union-backed Congressman Bob Filner was elected as the next mayor, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and Lorena Gonzalez – head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Central Labor Council – held a press conference to announce a settlement concerning the union CEQA complaints and also a settlement concerning a union-backed lawsuit challenging the financing method for the project. The settlements resolved very few of the environmental concerns indicated in the union CEQA complaints – not even the subsequently high-profile concern of protecting the project from sea level rise caused by global warming.

However, the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council now had a Project Labor Agreement for construction of the Convention Center expansion, as proclaimed in a press release. And UNITE-HERE Local No. 30 “extended their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), ensuring a unionized operation of the Convention Center once expanded,” according to Lorena Gonzalez.

If the apparent union “greenmail” of the project using CEQA as leverage to get labor agreements wasn’t controversial enough, the Project Labor Agreement also appeared to violate a ballot measure (Proposition A) approved by 58% of San Diego voters in June 2012. That ballot measure established a “Fair and Open Competition” ordinance prohibiting the city from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions as a condition of work. It was put on the ballot in part to protect the convention center from ongoing union lobbying efforts at the city council to win monopoly control of  its construction.

Up to that time, voters and elected boards of local governments throughout the state had been defying union officials and approving Fair and Open Competition policies, starting in October 2009 with Orange County. In response, the California State Legislature passed and Governor Jerry Brown signed into law two bills (Senate Bill 922 and Senate Bill 829) pushed by then-State Senator Michael Rubio to nullify all Fair and Open Competition policies in counties and general law cities and cut off state funding for charter cities (such as San Diego) that enacted or failed to repeal such policies.

Union leaders in San Diego, particularly Lorena Gonzalez, repeatedly warned that the state would cut off money to the City of San Diego if voters didn’t repeal the Fair and Open Competition ordinance they had approved in June 2012. But for now this dramatic threat has proven to be empty, and Proposition A remains in the City of San Diego Municipal Code.

An unexpected political development occurred a few weeks after the mayor and top county union leader announced the settlement agreements for the convention center: Lorena Gonzalez announced her candidacy for the 80th Assembly District seat that would soon become vacant. Like the Eye of Sauron, union political focus in San Diego County shifted from government-mandated unionization to the task of getting her elected.

Meanwhile, a group called the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction sought to obtain the Project Labor Agreement as the preliminary step to a planned lawsuit contending that the union deal violated the Proposition A ordinance. None of the many parties involved – including the City of San Diego – would provide the document, and finally the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction filed a lawsuit against the city to get it.

A press release dated April 18, 2013 stated the following:

“We’re going to get that union Project Labor Agreement, expose it to the public, and make every schemer involved with this union sweetheart deal accountable for breaking the law,” said Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.

Perhaps a schemer somewhere was getting nervous. The city promptly handed over the Project Labor Agreement today, April 23, 2013.

Note that the aggressive actions of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction repulse many civic leaders in San Diego. It disrupts the cozy relationship of politicians, unions, and business interests giving each other special favors to get the convention center expanded. It creates additional controversy for a project already under scrutiny for the bizarre tax scheme involving hotel room fee assessments that will be used to pay back the borrowed money (and interest) obtained through bond sales to pay for construction. At a more basic level, many impartial observers believe the expansion is unnecessary and foolish.

Exposing the shenanigans of unions and their cohorts in California wins few friends among the powerful, but it does disgust the ordinary voter who ends up paying for it, one way or another.

Sources:

Project Labor Agreement for the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion

Lawsuit to Obtain Copy of Union Project Labor Agreement on San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion

Letter claiming the Project Labor Agreement for this public project is a “Trade Secret”

Settlement Agreement – Building Trades Unions – San Diego Convention Center – 2012

Settlement Agreement – Various Construction Trade Unions – San Diego Convention Center – 2012

May 2012 Union CEQA Objections to the Draft Environmental Impact Report on the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion

September 2012 Union CEQA Objections to the Final Environmental Impact Report on the San Diego convention center Phase 3 Expansion

Background on Proposition A, the Fair and Open Competition ordinance approved by 58% of San Diego voters in June 2012

For more detailed information, see these web sites:

www.SanDiegoConventionCenterScam.com

“San Diego Convention Center” articles in www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com

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

CEQA Debate Rule No. 1: Do NOT Mention Union “Greenmail”

“Here’s the plan: pretend that unions aren’t exploiting the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as a tool to obtain labor agreements. Maybe no one will notice.”

Supporters and opponents of CEQA reform are straining to avoid this uncomfortable subject as influential Democrats in the California State Senate prepare to introduce an alleged reform of CEQA that would discourage abuses of the law.


Note: the second half of this article includes excerpts from my February 18, 2013 article on www.FlashReport.org entitled Highlighting the Top Union Abuses of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Thank you to www.FlashReport.org and www.UnionWatch.org for exposing generally unreported labor public policy issues to a wider audience in California and the United States.


This moratorium on referring to union “greenmail” reached absurd levels this week, as a noted journalist in San Diego who is left-leaning but generally recognized as honestly blunt neglected to report the obvious about union CEQA abuse.

An article entitled San Diego Hotels: Labor in Revolt was posted on February 20, 2013 in the “alternative” weekly newspaper San Diego Reader. It sympathetically portrayed the quest of organizers in the San Diego-based UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 to unionize the city’s hotel workforce.

Readers learn about various adversarial tactics used by UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 to pressure hotel operators to sign union agreements. The article mentions picket lines, boycotts, telling the hotel’s customers not to return, convincing elite universities to stop investing their endowment funds in hotel corporations, using labor laws offensively against employers, and encouraging workers to express themselves in public with chants, drum-beating, and labor songs.

All of these tactics reflect a typical union “corporate campaign.” But after reading the article, I went back and read it again. I couldn’t believe what I was – NOT – reading.

It mentions nothing about the high-profile CEQA actions filed by UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 against four proposed hotel projects! Here they are, as reported in www.PhonyUnionTreeHuggers.com:

1. Lane Field in San Diego: UNITE-HERE Local 30 Doesn’t Like a Proposed Hotel

2. San Diego Hotel Union (UNITE-HERE Local 30) Finds Environmental Calamity with San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina Ballroom Expansion

3. San Diego Convention Center Expansion: Construction Unions and Hotel Unions File 63 Pages Worth of CEQA Complaints

4. Hotel Union Uses CEQA Objections to Try to Block Proposed Fat City Hotel in San Diego

Four cases of CEQA abuse in the context of organizing campaigns! Overlooked and unreported…

An article exposing this practice could attract web readers, sell newspapers, and enhance the professional reputation of the journalist who wrote it. A news vacuum is waiting to be filled.

Soon an enterprising California reporter (or national reporter) will draw attention to labor union CEQA exploitation with an investigative article. In recent years, the New York Times did this with a June 18, 2009 article A Move to Put the Union Label on Solar Power Plants; also, the Los Angeles Times did this with a February 5, 2011 article Labor Coalition’s Tactics on Renewable Energy Projects Are Criticized.

I anticipate this future investigative article will flush out the union greenmail by either providing a broad survey of 20 years of union CEQA abuse or by focusing in-depth on one of the dozens of recent union CEQA document dumps and lawsuits against proposed projects.

Here are the top examples of union “greenmail” in 2012 and in 2013 that are ripe for investigation and exposure.

The #1 Union “Greenmail” CEQA Exploitation Case of 2012: San Diego Convention Center Expansion, Phase 3

The most high-profile union-instigated CEQA action in California in 2012 was targeted at the proposed San Diego Convention Center Expansion, Phase 3, estimated to cost $520 million, or more than $1 billion total if interest on borrowed money through bond sales is included. Unions hired the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo to advance the union objections. The saga is summarized on the web site www.SanDiegoConventionCenterScam.com:

It was known for years that the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council planned to use CEQA to delay construction of the convention center expansion until it obtained a union monopoly on construction with a Project Labor Agreement. The plans were documented in a March 2011 article It’s Out in the Open: Project Labor Agreement a Costly Possibility for San Diego Convention Center Expansion.

Sure enough, it happened. In several hundred pages of submitted letters and exhibits, the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 in San Diego identified numerous problems…See the May 2012 union comments for the draft Environmental Impact report on the San Diego convention center expansion and the September 2012 union comments for the final Environmental Impact Report on the San Diego convention center expansion.

Read an account of the outrageous incidents that occurred at the September 19, 2012 meeting of the United Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners, where union leaders and their law firms brazenly pulled a “document dump” in front of the city’s civic leadership: Unions Threaten Environmental Litigation to Block San Diego Convention Center.

Press conference announcing unions dropping CEQA complaints against San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3.

Press conference announcing unions dropping CEQA complaints against San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3.

Yet all these environmental problems disappeared (except for some minor environmental mitigation in three settlement agreements between these unions and the City of San Diego) once contractors were required to sign a project labor agreement with unions as a condition of working on the project and unions won a memorandum of understanding expanding the unionization of the convention center workforce.

Mayor Jerry Sanders (who was about to leave office) held a press conference on November 8, 2012 with the county’s top union official Lorena Gonzalez (who is planning a campaign for a California State Assembly seat) essentially to announce that the union environmental extortion “greenmail” was effective. The unions made “deals” with the City of San Diego and the prime contractor (a joint venture of Clark Construction Group and Hunt Construction Group) for the San Diego Convention Center Expansion, Phase 3.

San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council Project Labor Agreement for San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3

CEQA Works! Unions get a Project Labor Agreement for the San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3 and environmental concerns are resolved.

The California Coastal Commission may soon consider approval of this project, now unimpeded by earlier concerns cited by unions about how the sea-level rise caused by global warming might submerge the convention center expansion.

The #1 Union “Greenmail” CEQA Exploitation Case of 2013 (So Far): Mono County Geothermal Plants

People in Mono County are incredulous about the tremendous opposition of construction trade unions (specifically, California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) and Laborers Union Local No. 783) to the Ormat Technologies proposed upgrade of its long-existing Mammoth Pacific I geothermal power plant and its proposed Casa Diablo IV geothermal power plant. Actually, every Californian should be outraged about this new round of union “greenmail.”

The web site www.PhonyUnionTreeHuggers.com explains what has happened so far with the proposed Mammoth Pacific I plant upgrade:

At the October 11, 2012 meeting of the Mono County Planning Commission, a staff member informed the commission about “documents received just today” from the law firms of Lozeau Drury and Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo. In response, one commissioner stated that “last-minute documents can’t be read in two minutes without any background.” The commission approved the project on a 4-0 vote.

On October 19, 2012, California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) appealed the Mono County Planning Commission’s decision to approve the Mammoth Pacific I Replacement Project at its October 11, 2012 meeting. CURE was represented by the South San Francisco law firm of Adams Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo.

Also on October 19, 2012, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), Local No. 783 (LIUNA) appealed the Mono County Planning Commission’s decision to approve the Mammoth Pacific I Replacement Project at its October 11, 2012 meeting. The union was represented by the Oakland law firm of Lozeau Drury.

On November 13, 2012, the Mono County Board of Supervisors rejected the two union appeals of project approval. Here is the staff report to the Mono County Board of Supervisors on CURE’s appeal.

Local officials knew that Ormat Technologies has been pressured to sign Project Labor Agreements giving unions a monopoly on construction and maintenance. Unions have also harassed the company at the Imperial County Planning Commission, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, and the California Energy Commission as it seeks approval for geothermal power plants in Imperial County such as Hudson Ranch II.

In fact, the February 28, 2013 meeting agenda of the California Energy Commission includes this item:

California Unions for Reliable Energy v. Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission [that is, the California Energy Commission], Real Parties in Interest Ormat Nevada, Inc., ORNI 18 LLC, and ORNI 19 LLC (Alameda County Superior Court, RG 12610669)

On December 14, 2012, Laborers Union (LIUNA) Local No. 783 filed a lawsuit (Concerned Bishop Residents v. County of Mono) in Mono County Superior Court claiming that the Mono County Board of Supervisors violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it approved Ormat Technologies‘ replacement project for the Mammoth Pacific Unit 1 geothermal power plant. The lawsuit explains that Laborers Union members “regularly travel to the Mammoth Lakes area of Mono County to enjoy its peaceful repose.”

Enjoying its peaceful repose and diversity and rarity of species of plants and animals.

Enjoying its peaceful repose and diversity and rarity of species of plants and animals.

But the ultimate CEQA strike by unions against geothermal power occurred on January 30, 2013, when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office in Bishop was crushed by an incredible pile of comments from California Unions for Reliable Energy and Laborers Union Local No. 783 objecting to the draft Environmental Impact Report / Environmental Impact Statement for the Casa Diablo IV project. The amount of paper used for these objections probably required an Environmental Impact Report under CEQA.

The comments and associated exhibits are linked at Unions’ January 30, 2013 Comments Against Geothermal Power Plant Must Have Overheated the Printers!

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

Unions Defy CEQA Reformers with Taunting Resolution

Despite their reputation as effective and extensive abusers of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to pursue economic objectives unrelated to environmental protection, California union leaders are strategically choosing to be vocal activists against CEQA reform.

Union leaders are obviously quite confident that corporate executives and the news media will hesitate to make them accountable for their practice.

The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council are an essential part of the “CEQA Works” coalition organized by the California League of Conservation Voters to oppose CEQA reform. I predict these unions will be the major funding source for broadcast advertising from CEQA Works to undermine reform proposals. (Expect advertising to run soon on these radio stations.)

On February 11, 2013, the leadership of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO unanimously approved a resolution stating its commitment to “protecting the critical components of CEQA that have made it effective.” It was presented by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.

CEQA documents for proposed solar power plants in Fresno County as of August 7, 2012. A majority of these documents related to union CEQA objections.

This resolution consists of buzz words, emotive language, and facts taken out of context. Many of the declarations provoke laughter at close examination: for example, the resolution praises union “alliances with local businesses” even though small local businesses undermine private sector unionism by operating free of union work rules and not participating in multi-employer union-administered fringe benefit programs.

(This provision probably alludes to CEQA challenges to Wal-Mart supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers union. As reported in the UFCW Local Union No. 135 newsletter of October 2012, “…pro-business politicians in the California State Senate proposed gutting CEQA, making it much more difficult for us to stop Walmart and similar big-box retailers from coming to San Diego and other places in California.”)

But the resolution also reveals that unions know the psychology of their opponents. From their experience in union corporate organizing campaigns, union leaders recognize how business executives strive to protect their professional reputations and corporate images. The resolution is a warning to any corporate executive advocating for CEQA reform who might be tempted to explain publicly why unions oppose it.

Few California corporate executives have the gumption or rhetorical skill to openly challenge an organization supporting benevolent, humanistic impulses such as “smart and sustainable development,” “public health, especially in low-income communities,” and “protecting local communities, strengthening alliances with local businesses, and promoting the creation of good jobs.”

And as an additional defense from accusations of hypocrisy, union officials strategically included a direct accusation in the resolution that “many of the attacks on CEQA are coming from the same corporations that seek to roll back regulations that protect workers.”

Who would dare to counterattack by pointing out how unions use those regulations as a strategic tool to coerce businesses into collective bargaining?

And it’s not just corporate executives intimidated by the aggressive union counterthrust. Reporters, editors, and newspaper executives who dare to expose union hypocrisy are vulnerable to accusations about poor journalistic practices and reporting of right-wing innuendo.

I sent out two Tweets to present the other side of the story:

Unions oppose #CEQA reform – delaying projects & activities is an essential part of organizing strategy in California http://www.phonyuniontreehuggers.com 

Union resolution to oppose #CEQA reform: subtly stating CEQA’s relevance to unions without detailing how unions use it http://www.calaborfed.org/index.php/site/page/1959 …

These missives were tiny beacons of common sense and fiscal responsibility jettisoned into a maelstrom of leftist commentary on Twitter, to disappear into irrelevance.

No one affirmed my comments by citing a CEQA lawsuit filed on January 22, 2013 by the new, shadowy “Fresnans for Clean Air (FRESCA)” in Fresno County Superior Court alleging that the Fresno City Council failed to adequately assess the environmental damage caused by contracting out garbage services. No one asked about the status of the CEQA lawsuit filed on December 14, 2012 by the Laborers Union (LIUNA) Local No. 783 and “Concerned Bishop Residents” in Mono County Superior Court alleging that the Mono County Board of Supervisors failed to adequately assess the environmental damage caused by an upgrade of the Mammoth Pacific Unit 1 geothermal power plant.

Unions dumped these CEQA objections at a meeting of the United Port of San Diego Board of Commissioners on September 19, 2012.

No one mentioned the notorious CEQA document dumps in May 2012 and in September 2012 by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30 against the proposed San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3. In November, the unions announced “settlement agreements” that failed to address almost all of their environmental objections – including rising sea levels resulting from global warming – even as the unions obtained separate labor agreements for construction and hotel and hospitality services.

One of the declarations in the California Labor Federation resolution asserts that “claims of rampant CEQA litigation are wildly exaggerated since there is an average of only 200 CEQA (sic) per year” and that “only 1% or fewer projects subject to CEQA involve litigation of any sort.” While this statistic is deceptive in many ways, it doesn’t indicate how unions slow down projects using CEQA before ever reaching the point where their law firms need to file a lawsuit. There won’t be a union-instigated CEQA lawsuit to block the San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3 – the preliminary activity under CEQA was enough to win the labor agreements.

The typical tactic used by exploiters of CEQA is “document dumps,” where an attorney submits a huge stack of CEQA objections at the last possible moment, sometimes with meek apologies. As a lawyer in California said to me last week, “The unions are at the point now where they don’t even need to submit comments about Environmental Impact Reports. The union law firm sends a public records request asking for the company’s application for a permit, and the company then calls up the law firm to arrange for a Project Labor Agreement.”

The web site www.PhonyUnionTreeHuggers.com was established by the Alliance for a Cleaner Tomorrow (ACT) in 2012 to document labor union involvement in CEQA environmental objections to proposed projects. Entries are based on actual legal documents that are hyperlinked for reference. The web site also includes the following news articles to show that once in a while, the truth leaks out about union CEQA exploitation:

Protests Over Valley Solar Projects Called a Ploy” – Fresno Bee – April 29, 2012

“Labor Coalition’s Tactics on Renewable Energy Projects Are Criticized” – Los Angeles Times – February 5, 2011

“Debate Brews in California Over Unions And Power Projects” – Platt’s Electric Power Daily – October 29, 2009

“A Move to Put the Union Label on Solar Power Plants” – New York Times – June 18, 2009

“Greenmail: Independent Builders Accuse Unions of Coercion” – Central Valley Business Journal – December 2007

“Union Staffing Demands Dim Market for Solar Panels” (Op-Ed) – Los Angeles Business Journal – October 8, 2007

“Unions Wielding Environmental Law to Threaten Foes” – Sacramento Business Journal – January 29, 2006

“Suits in California Delay Wal-Mart Supercenters” – Associated Press – March 20, 2005

“Pressure by Labor Group Alleged” – Sacramento Bee – September 19, 2004

“Struggle Over Power Plants” – Los Angeles Times – September 6, 2004

“Union Group Comes Under Fire at CEC [California Energy Commission] Workshop” – Energy Newsdata’s California Energy Markets – August 20, 2004

“Roseville OKs Labor Agreement for Power Plant” – Sacramento Business Journal – July 22, 2004

“Unions Push Roseville for Power Plant Pact” – Sacramento Business Journal – July 18, 2004

“No Strong-Arming” – Sacramento Business Journal (editorial) – July 18, 2004

“Unions Have Power Over Energy Plants” – Tri-Valley Herald (San Francisco: East Bay) – March 18, 2002

“Power Grab” (Editorial) – Wall Street Journal – February 15, 2001

“Blame Unions for Blackouts” (Op-Ed) – Engineering News-Record – January 29, 2001

“Unions Play Part in Power Crisis” – Bakersfield Californian – December 23, 2000

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

“Unite Here” Union Becomes San Diego’s Leading Environmental Organization

According to its national web site, UNITE HERE represents workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries.

But one might conclude, after looking at the public activities of UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 in San Diego, that UNITE HERE is actually an environmental organization, marketing itself as a much more aggressive alternative to the Sierra Club. It sees dire environmental calamity with every proposed hotel in downtown San Diego.

For the past five years, this union has been prominent in using the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to block or delay proposed hotels. Examples have included two proposed hotels for Lane Field, the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina Renovation Project, Ballpark Village, and the Phase III expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and the expansion of the adjacent Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel. UNITE-HERE also lobbied in 2009 and 2010 for an ordinance in the City of San Diego that would allow outside parties to appeal the hotel approval decisions of the Centre City Development Corporation to the San Diego City Council.

Based on settlement agreements and other deals referenced in conjunction with hotel projects where UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30 choses not to object or withdraws its objections, its CEQA concerns appear to be related to union demands for labor neutrality agreements with hotel developers. In addition, its CEQA concerns appear to be related to union demands for construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of working on the hotel construction.

The union’s latest action is against the proposed Fat City Hotel Project.

On behalf of UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30, the South San Francisco law firm of Adams, Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo filed a lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court on December 5, 2012 alleging that the City of San Diego, the San Diego Planning Commission, and the Centre City Development Corporation improperly approved the proposed Fat City Hotel Project.

First proposed publicly in March 2012, this project would be a two-tower, 364-room hotel in San Diego’s “Little Italy” district. Parties initially involved in this development were Frank Fat Properties LP and Jonathan Segal (an architect), but the parties now developing the project are FC Acquisition Company LLC, which includes T2 Development and GLJ Partners. (See Fat City Hotels Property Sold, New Developer Takes Over: T2 Development Reportedly Planning a Hilton Hotel – San Diego Union-Tribune – August 28, 2012.)

As reported in the May 30, 2012 San Diego Union-Tribune article Fat City Hotel Approved Over Labor Objections and in the July 26, 2012 San Diego Union-Tribune article Fat City Hotels Project Wins Final OK: Planning Commission Denies Appeal from Hotel Workers, the hotel workers’ union has been pestering the hotel developers for a while:

The final opposition came from Unite Here Local 30, the local hotel workers union. There is no appeal from the commission vote.

Pamela N. Epstein, representing the union, said the project conflicted with city land-use plans, citing a maximum of hotel rooms that would be allowed in Little Italy where the site is located.

“Evidence does not support its designation as a resort hotel,” Epstein added.

But staff said the project complied with city rules and Commissioner Mary Lydon wondered why the union was involved, especially since new hotels mean new jobs.

“Why you brought this forward, to me, it’s a total miss,” Lydon said.

UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 claims that the project needs a project-specific Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Local agencies approved the project under the conclusion that the potential environmental impacts of this project were addressed in a 2006 “Program Environmental Impact Report” for future downtown redevelopment. See the San Diego Planning Commission staff report for the July 26, 2012 meeting concerning UNITE-HERE’s appeal of the Centre City Development Corporation’s approval of the project.

At some point, someone with influence in San Diego needs to shame the leadership of UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30 for its relentless exploitation of the state’s environmental protection laws.

The appropriate questions that reporters and public officials need to ask UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30: will the union drop its lawsuit if the developers agree to a neutrality agreement or collective bargaining agreement with UNITE-HERE for hotel employees, along with some minor “environmental mitigation” to provide camouflage for the true purpose of the CEQA lawsuit? In addition, is UNITE-HERE also asking the developers to require their contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council?

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

Unions Creep Closer to Monopolizing California High-Speed Rail Construction

UPDATE (December 7, 2012): A article today in the Fresno Bee (‘Needy’ Workers Will Get Jobs on High-Speed Rail) about the “Community Benefits” policy approved on December 6, 2012 by the California High-Speed Rail Authority contains a stunning revelation:

Five teams of contractors have been invited to bid on the first major contract for a stretch of the rail route between Madera and Fresno. How the new policy will translate into the contract has yet to be determined, said Jeffrey Morales, the authority’s CEO. Potentially complicating the issue is that each of the five would-be prime contracting teams has already signed project labor agreements with labor unions. Morales said the existence of project labor agreements between the contractors and labor unions is independent of any action the agency takes.

So all five prequalified bidders have negotiated and signed Project Labor Agreements with construction unions. How did that happen? Why? Was there some kind of deal involving the High-Speed Rail Authority? Are the five agreements all the same? What do these union agreements contain? Will the public ever get the chance to see these agreements, which give unions a monopoly on the work?

California High Speed Rail Project Labor Agreement Mandate - Section 10.1

California High Speed Rail Project Labor Agreement Mandate – Section 10.1


At its December 6, 2012 meeting, the board of directors of the California High-Speed Rail Authority unanimously approved a resolution to establish a “Community Benefits” policy for construction of California’s high-speed rail system. The High-Speed Rail Authority promptly issued a press release with quotes from local elected officials in the San Joaquin Valley who like the concept of community benefits but apparently aren’t aware of the big-city union scheme behind the plan.

While a typical reader of www.UnionWatch.org is instantly alerted by the phrase “community benefits” to the likelihood that government is executing a special deal at the expense of taxpayers, the policy sounds innocuous and benevolent to the ordinary person. Staff of the High-Speed Rail Authority claimed before the board vote that this policy will enhance employment opportunities for economically disadvantaged and low-income workers, veterans, youth, unemployed, homeless, single parents, and people with criminal records. It will “ensure that California benefits as much as possible.”

There are numerous signs that the High-Speed Rail Authority established this policy to provide a strong incentive for construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions for construction of the $68 billion-$100 billion rail system, including related structures such as stations. Staff for the High-Speed Rail Authority reported that “different stakeholders” will participate in the implementation of the policy, and no stakeholder has been more involved in perpetuating this massive, costly project than the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.

As I reported in a January 11, 2011 article in www.TheTruthaboutPLAs.com entitled California’s Top Construction Union Officials Love the State’s $100 Billion High-Speed Rail Project, construction unions have long sought a Project Labor Agreement in order to monopolize the construction workforce on this project. With the Community Benefits policy now in place, here’s what some of the most politically-astute California construction industry officials expect to happen:

  1. The High-Speed Rail Authority will award construction contracts using a “design-build” bidding procedure. Instead of awarding contracts to design a project and then awarding contracts to the lowest responsible bidder to build it, the High-Speed Rail Authority is authorized under state law to award contracts to qualified corporate entities that combine project design and construction work. It will select the design-build entities using a somewhat subjective list of “best value” criteria that could result in design-build entities winning contracts even if they do not submit bids with the lowest price. The California Department of Finance will approve the criteria to award the design-build contracts, and the State Public Works Board will oversee the contract awards.
  2. The High-Speed Rail Authority will indicate in its construction contract specifications that bidders will be evaluated in part based on their plan to conform with the Community Benefits policy. Potential bidders will either be explicitly informed or figure out that the chances of winning a design-build contract will be greatly improved if they commit in their bids to negotiate and sign a Project Labor Agreement with construction trade unions in order to comply with the Community Benefits policy.
  3. By using this strategy to implement a Project Labor Agreement, the board of directors of the High-Speed Rail Authority and their union cronies will avoid controversial and high-profile public votes to negotiate it and approve it. California taxpayers and the U.S. Congress will remain generally unaware that unions cleverly obtained a monopoly on the construction of the rail project, because reporters will have difficulty researching and explaining this complicated procedure and because the Project Labor Agreement will not be a matter of public record. And the High-Speed Rail Authority will avoid accountability for the Project Labor Agreement; it can portray the agreement as the contractor’s own internal private and voluntary business decision.

There are recent precedents for imposing Project Labor Agreements on large government projects in California while evading public deliberations and votes. Clark Construction negotiated and signed a Project Labor Agreement for the San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase III and negotiated and signed a Project Labor Agreement for the new Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach. Both the City of San Diego and the California Administrative Office of the Courts claim that these Project Labor Agreements are not a matter of public record, and Clark Construction declines to provide the union agreements to the public.

There is one weakness in the High-Speed Rail Authority’s plot to give construction unions a monopoly on the rail project with Project Labor Agreements: representatives of the beleaguered California construction organizations opposed to government-mandated Project Labor Agreements and other costly union schemes are tough, experienced, and smart. They are exposing the scheme.

Representatives of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of California, the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA), the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of California (PHCC), and the Air Conditioning Trade Association (ACTA) spoke at the meeting against Project Labor Agreements for the High-Speed Rail construction. In addition, a representative of the Bakersfield-based Kern Minority Contractors Association spoke during public comment and asked that both union and non-union contractors have the opportunity to work on the high-speed rail project. (The High-Speed Rail Authority is moving forward with building the first segment of the high-speed rail line in the San Joaquin Valley, basically from Fresno to Bakersfield.)

High-Speed Rail Authority chairman Dan Richard, a former member of the board of directors of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), concluded board discussion of the proposed Community Benefits policy by responding to public criticism of Project Labor Agreements. Chairman Richard declared that while no decision has been made about how the new “Community Benefits” policy will be implemented, he thinks Project Labor Agreements are effective in improving the efficiency of project delivery, reducing the number of conflicts, and providing a way for minority contractors to get work.

Chairman Richard also reported that he attended a December 5, 2012 meeting at which the minority community expressed very strongly that a Project Labor Agreement was the way to achieve the policy objectives. It appears that Chairman Richard was the keynote speaker at a “California High-Speed Rail Small Business Opportunity Conference” sponsored by the American Asian Architects and Engineers in San Francisco on December 5, 2012 and featuring Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland/Berkeley). Of course, it’s contractors that will employ trade workers in the San Joaquin Valley, not San Francisco architects and engineers.

Chairman Richard also took a moment during the meeting to recognize two important people watching in the audience: Bob Balgenorth, outgoing head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and former High-Speed Rail Authority board member, and Robbie Hunter – the head of the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council – who is the incoming head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. Were these union leaders attending the meeting to express support for employment opportunities for the homeless, or were they in the audience to see another piece fall into place for a union Project Labor Agreement on what will be far-and-away the most expensive public works “mega-project” in American history?

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

Unions Threaten Environmental Litigation to Block San Diego Convention Center

Whatever your views concerning the wisdom of the proposed $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and the related expansion of the adjacent Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, you should be outraged at the shameless stunt of top San Diego labor union officials and their lawyers at the September 19, 2012 meeting of the Board of Port Commissioners for the United Port of San Diego.

The spectacle at the Port of San Diego was a powerful illustration of how labor unions abuse the California Environmental Quality Act, commonly known as CEQA (California Public Resources Code Section 21000 et seq.), to delay projects while demanding labor agreements and other economic or labor concessions from public and private developers. It also showed how community leaders and developers are too helpless or intimidated to try to stop or evade this practice, known as “greenmail.”


A Summary of the Spectacle at the Port Commissioners’ Meeting: You Won’t Read This Story in the Mainstream News Media!

Before a crowded meeting room packed with the San Diego region’s top civic leaders – including the Mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders – union officials declared to the Port Commissioners that the 1400-page final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that the Port Commissioners were about to approve for the proposed project was inadequate and incomplete under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). They made this claim despite the Port’s efforts to address the original 62-page CEQA objection letter submitted by those same unions on June 29, 2012 to the Port concerning the proposed San Diego Convention Center expansion. To see the union letter AND the 374 pages of exhibits, go to the full set of Convention Center CEQA comments here. (The union submission starts at page 101 of the PDF document and ends at page 536.)

At the September 19, 2012 meeting of the Port Commissioners, top union officials made sure that all the important community leaders in the room recognized who had the power and the commitment to derail the project. An official of the UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30 led off the attack by declaring that the Port’s plan to comply with CEQA was deficient and needed to be withdrawn for revisions. Then a lawyer from the South San Francisco law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo explained more specifically all of the newly discovered alleged problems with the Environmental Impact Report. She was given extra time to speak because Tom Lemmon – head of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council – submitted a speaker card and then transferred his speaking time to her.

Along with her comments, the lawyer for the unions brought to the podium a NEW 42 page letter (with 197 footnotes) and 250 pages of referenced exhibits on behalf of “The San Diego Coalition for A Better Convention Center.” This phony, unincorporated group is actually a front for the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30. Such last-minute CEQA “document dumps” at government meetings are routinely used by Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo on behalf of unions.

Union CEQA Documents Submitted to Port of San Diego - San Diego Convention Center Expansion

On behalf of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30, the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo submitted a huge last-minute objection under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to the proposed expansion of the San Diego Convention Center. The San Diego Port Commissioners approved the Environmental Impact Report anyway at its September 19, 2012 meeting.

Finally, Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego County Central Labor Council, rushed into the meeting late to announce there were problems with the Environmental Impact Report for the convention center. Perhaps voters rejected her when she ran for San Diego City Council in 2005-06, but at this meeting she exercised the aggressive and coercive power of unionism as she spoke in front of the civic leaders seeking to help Mayor Jerry Sanders achieve this final economic development goal before he leaves office. Gonzalez proposed that the Port Commissioners approve a “tolling agreement” that would extend the statute of limitations for the unions to file a lawsuit. This would give unions more time to squeeze their demands out of the developers and the convention center’s public and private partners.

After these antics, the Port Commissioners recessed the meeting for about 20 minutes so Port staff could scan the document dump by Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo and make a preliminary determination of whether or not the unions introduced new and valid CEQA objections to the proposed convention center and hotel expansion. If the comments were serious threats, the Port Commissioners would need to table the item to approve the Environmental Impact Report.

Staff ultimately identified four potential areas vulnerable to lawsuits or appeals, but also indicated how the issues would be addressed. In the end, the Port Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Environmental Impact Report, while noting that they expected litigation and appeals unless relevant parties were able to make a deal with the unions.


Using CEQA to Attain Objectives Unrelated to Environmental Protection

What is the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council seeking with its CEQA objections? As I documented in my March 11, 2011 www.TheTruthaboutPLAs.com article entitled It’s Out in the Open: Project Labor Agreement a Costly Possibility for San Diego Convention Center Expansion, union officials want a requirement for construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with trade unions as a condition of working on the projects.

Since the mid-1990s, Project Labor Agreements have become the primary political scheme that California construction trade unions use to gain monopoly control over public and private construction projects. While politicians are often lured by potential union campaign support into supporting government-mandated Project Labor Agreements, ordinary citizens don’t want their local government officials forcing contractors to sign costly union agreements to work on construction projects funded by tax dollars. Most people seem to understand instinctively what has been shown through a comprehensive study of California school construction released in 2011 by the National University System Institute for Policy Research in San Diego: Project Labor Agreements increase the cost of construction 13% to 15%. See the institute’s study at www.thecostofPLAs.com.

Since June 2010, voters in San Diego County, the City of San Diego, the City of Chula Vista, the City of Oceanside, and the City of El Cajon have all approved “Fair and Open Competition” charter provisions or ordinances that prohibit these local government entities from requiring their construction contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions as a condition of winning a contract. Voters in the City of Escondido will consider a charter provision in the November 6, 2012 election that achieves the same purpose of fair and open bid competition. People in the San Diego region clearly REJECT government-mandated Project Labor Agreements.


Unions Routinely Block Private Projects in the San Diego Region with Environmental Objections Until Developers Surrender and Agree to Sign Project Labor Agreements with Unions and Require Their Contractors to Do the Same

It’s hard to track and document the numerous threats and legal actions in the San Diego area by construction unions and other unions such as UNITE-HERE to exploit the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other environmental laws to block and delay approval of development projects until a labor agreement is signed. The negotiations and applied pressure goes on behind closed doors, and often the victimized developer is compelled to succumb in secret. To add insult to injury, the developer is often dragged to a humiliating press conference to claim publicly that signing a Project Labor Agreement with unions is a wonderful business practice.

Two companies that exposed the union greenmail to the public were SeaWorld and Gaylord Entertainment.

1. SeaWorld San Diego Theme Park expansion – threatened in 2002, but resisted, and a Project Labor Agreement was not implemented. See background information here: Unions Fail to Force SeaWorld to Sign Project Labor Agreement.

2. Gaylord Entertainment hotel and convention center at the Chula Vista Bayfront – threatened in 2007 and 2008, but resisted. Gaylord ultimately abandoned the project and commenced construction instead of a resort complex in Arizona. See Gaylord Entertainment’s 2007 withdrawal letter: Out of Chula Vista; Unions Threaten CEQA Abuse.

Other companies have dealt with CEQA greenmail against proposed San Diego projects in various ways:

1. San Diego Padres Petco Park – the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 569 identified alleged environmental problems in 1999. The developer agreed to a Project Labor Agreement in 2000. The project magically became environmentally sound.

2. Ballpark Village – there was a Ballpark Village draft Project Labor Agreement circulating in 2005, after Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo – representing the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 569 – identified environmental problems with the project. Four years later, the same law firm identified environmental problems with the project on behalf of UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30.

3. Poseidon Desalination Plant in Carlsbad – developer avoided union interference by agreeing to a Project Labor Agreement in 2005.

4. Downtown San Diego hotel projects, including Lane Field (Intercontinental Hotel and Aviana Suites), Sunroad Harbor Island Hotel, and San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina facilities expansion projects – the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo has identified alleged environmental problems with these proposed projects on behalf of UNITE-HERE Local No. 30.

5. Palomar Power Plant in Escondido – Sempra Energy signed a Project Labor Agreement and avoided licensing delays at the California Energy Commission instigated by intervenor California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE). There is also a 30-year Maintenance Labor Agreement for this power plant.

6. Otay Mesa Generating Station – see here how CURE extracted this Project Labor Agreement from Calpine.

7. Sunrise Powerlink transmission line – Project Labor Agreement implemented in 2010.

8. Pio Pico Energy Center in East Otay Mesa – The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California proudly announced on November 3, 2011 that it had extracted a Project Labor Agreement for the construction of this power plant. California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) did NOT intervene in the licensing process at the California Energy Commission on this 300 MW project. It’s odd how unions see devastating environmental problems with projects related to solar energy generation, but didn’t see the need to comment on this one…

Other projects of uncertain status:

1. 655 Broadway – no Project Labor Agreement; union-only though.

2. Sapphire Tower at 1262 Kettner Boulevard (Santa Fe Parcel 6) – the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 569 identified alleged environmental problems in 2004. (I spoke at the August 12, 2004 meeting of the Centre City Development Corporation about the union’s CEQA objections to this project.)

3. Chula Vista Bayfront project – Pacifica Companies – news media indicated that a Project Labor Agreement seemed likely.

4. Carlsbad Energy Center – threat or already agreed to Project Labor Agreement.


How Can San Diego Civic Leaders Derail the Union CEQA Attack on the San Diego Convention Center Expansion? Specific Recommendations to Four Parties.

1. San Diego’s News Media: The local news media needs to stop dancing around this issue so ordinary citizens can learn what’s happening and respond to it.  Most people think this racket is outrageous, and they will lash out against it. Even some dedicated union members are uncomfortable with the decision of their leaders to hold up projects using the California Environmental Quality Act. It just sort of feels wrong.

The union CEQA threats against Gaylord Entertainment’s proposed Chula Vista Bayfront hotel and convention center were widely reported in 2007 and 2008, and ordinary citizens were aghast. But in the case of the convention center expansion, local news media is being very cautious in their reporting, perhaps because they sense that negative publicity might jeopardize an ambitious project wanted badly by the region’s civic leaders. (For the latest examples of news media downplaying the union maneuvers, see Convention Center Project Takes a Major Step Forward – San Diego Union-Tribune – September 20, 2012 and Port Approves Environmental Report For Convention Center Expansion – KPBS – September 19, 2012.)

After the Port’s deadline on June 29, 2012 for interested parties to submit comments concerning the draft Environmental Impact Report, local news media reported on the various submissions, but neglected to mention the comments submitted by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and UNITE HERE Local Union No. 30 through Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo. This was a bizarre oversight, considering that the unions submitted 436 of the 536 total pages of comments! (See Convention Center EIR Cites Numerous Impacts – San Diego Union-Tribune – July 3, 2012, Concerns Expressed on Center Expansion: Report Brings Up Aesthetics, Noise, Air Quality, Traffic – San Diego Union-Tribune – July 6, 2012, and Port Preparing Final Convention Center Environmental Impact Report – San Diego Daily Transcript – July 3, 2012.) Those comments were the true story.

2. San Diego’s Business and Political Leaders: Someone in town has to be a courageous leader and organize a broad coalition to fight back publicly against this relentless exploitation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by local labor union officials and their lawyers. Few people were willing to even mention the subject at the September 19, 2012 meeting of the Port Commissioners – there were no heroes in a room full of congratulatory adulation. Civic leaders need to collectively speak out against this racket. In addition, they need to stop recognizing as “community leaders” those union officials who threaten to abuse CEQA to hold up projects in order to extract labor agreements. People who pull such antics don’t belong on boards of directors and executive committees of reputable community organizations.

3. California’s Leading Environmentalists: Legitimate environmental groups such as the Sierra Club of California and the Natural Resources Defense Council don’t like how state legislators and Governor Jerry Brown are pushing for changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). But if this sort of behavior keeps up, one day they’ll see the state legislature amending CEQA in a way much more radical than the relatively mild “Sustainable Environmental Protection Act” that they were shrieking about in August 2012. Perhaps it’s time for environmental leaders to ask their union ideological allies to stop using CEQA to extract labor agreements from developers and governments.

4. Reasonable State Legislators and Governor Jerry Brown: California elected officials – especially those representing San Diego County – have a great anecdote here as a basis for arguing the need for CEQA reform. Imagine all the pharmaceutical conventions that will go to Orlando and Phoenix when this proposed San Diego convention center expansion is blocked by the unions’ CEQA objections. I bet comic book enthusiasts will have a blast getting together in Las Vegas! By the way, the proposed CEQA reform known as the “Sustainable Environmental Protection Act” probably won’t make a difference in stopping the practice of union greenmail. More vigorous measures similar to Senate Bill 1631 (2008), Senate Bill 628 (2005), or Assembly Bill 598 (2012) will be needed to stop this racket.

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