Thursday, December 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Fairfield labor pact wins City Council OK

23 city council mtg 1

Fidel Chavez, far left, argues why he supports the Project Labor Agreement as members of Carpenters In Action stand in solidarity during the City Council meeting in Fairfield, Tuesday. Supporters of the Project Labor Agreement claim more local workers will be hired for the Fairfield Intermodal Station Project. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | July 23, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — A project labor agreement – criticized as contrary to capitalist competition by limiting bidding and boosting costs to taxpayers, while praised as providing honest wages with benefits and jobs for local workers – won unanimous approval Tuesday by the Fairfield City Council for the Intermodal Station Project.

Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment, spoke first during the public hearing and opposed the pact for the train station project.

“It’s a political document, not a business tool,” he said.

But Ben Espinoza, president of the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council, told City Council members the labor agreement helps the community and Kevin Coleman, of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Napa, called the pact a “useful construction management tool.”

Councilman John Mraz, after a speaker said the council must benefit by the pact or would oppose a measure boosting costs, said the city staff represented Fairfield during negotiations about the agreement.

“What I want are local jobs,” Mraz said. “What I want is this project on time and on budget.”

“Let me tell you what I get out of this,” he said of his council post. “I sure as heck didn’t do it for the money.”

The councilman said he’s paid $210 every two weeks and that the compensation works out to about 25 cents an hour.

John Takeuchi, president of the Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group, said studies show labor agreements increase costs 10 to 20 percent and asked the City Council to reject the pact.

The Intermodal Station Project is estimated to cost between $30 million to $40 million.

Area resident Murray Bass said a study of more than 100 projects in New York state found labor agreements increased projects $27 a square foot.

“How the devil can you expect your experience to be any different?” he asked the Fairfield City Council.

Trades council president Espinoza said the labor agreements help employ local workers and that 90 percent of workers for the Solano County administration building, constructed using a PLA, were local.

Fairfield Mayor Harry Price said of the pact for train station project: “It makes the greatest sense.”

A Fairfield city staff report to the council said the project labor agreement requires that unions are the source of craft labor for the work. But the report adds that no employee working under the agreement is required to join any union as a condition of employment on the project.

The contractor is required to have employees who work for eight consecutive or cumulative days to pay dues required for union membership, according to the city staff report. The labor agreement will not have a significant impact on project costs because it’s likely most contractors will be union affiliates, the report states.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or rmccarthy@dailyrepublic.net.

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Discussion | 11 comments

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  • 2realJuly 23, 2014 - 5:34 am

    Blah blah blah

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  • CD BrooksJuly 23, 2014 - 5:43 am

    Shocking.

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  • BobJuly 23, 2014 - 6:21 am

    First the workers, except for the general foreman come from this area, not the area the contractor is from, like what happens when wallymart builds one. Go to Suisun when the work really gets going and see for yourselves. Check local trailer parks, that's where they go to live, or bunch up 10 to a rental house, tear it up and leave The workers this agreement covers are your neighbors, people at the market, getting gas, not sending their money back to Arkansas Did SAMs club ever take care of the two men killed while working on ONE ladder in Vacaville after they died? If you want shoddy work go nonunion, you'll never be able to get them to come back to fix problems because you can't find them, probably changed names 3-4 times since the job they did for you and leave you holding the bag on workers comp cases

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  • Non-union, thanks.....July 23, 2014 - 7:44 am

    Hmmm, Bob, not sure where you're getting your info from abount shoddy non-union workers. All the non-union people I've hired have done excellent work for me. Maybe it's because they care about their reputation and it's their livlihood. I've made several recommendations to my neighbors when I get a good contractor in. Unions, however, are a completely different story. Almost nothing but trouble for me from the start.

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  • NeilJuly 23, 2014 - 11:41 am

    I was there last night and found the oppositions numbers just didn't make sense. As a former contractor I can tell you there is no way 86% of construction workers can not be non union. Even if you count all the illegal aliens that have taken over the housing industry mostly or all big, technical roads, schools hospitals, industrial and commercial building is done union so that number is false along with other "facts" and councilwoman Moy investigated and called them on that last night. And a writer here says non union work is not shoddy, look how poorly houses are built for very low wages that yes for the most part are illegals pushed to slap them up before they move on, sending most of those low wages home and not spent here helping our local economy. Not shopping here at mom and pops but if anything at Walmart that just goes back to Arkansas which pays little in local sales tax and more taxes our local safety net. They don't own homes so they pay no property taxes but tax our police and fire departments. Another speaker last night said building union would add another 10% to 20% to the project, how can that be since labor is 20% to 22% of any construction job union or not. That means workers would working for free or far less than minimum wage so that is another lie. I also found drug and alcohol use AND addiction so much higher among non union workers which leaves the city open to injury lawsuits. They were less skilled, less motivated, more likely to miss work and to end up in jail.

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  • DRIPJuly 23, 2014 - 7:01 am

    The Council meeting was a farce, just a show put on to try to fool the taxpaying suckers. The outcome was cast in stone. The Council did not want to hear any opposition. Two council members went so far as to berate those who spoke in opposition to the giveaway. Opponents came armed with numbers, supporters with emotion and glittering generalities. Council did not want to be bothered. Just more proof that it is time to clean house at next election.

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  • DRIPJuly 23, 2014 - 11:47 am

    And I neglected to add that besides castigating two of the "anti" speakers, the Council was silent at the frequent outbursts of clapping from the union cadre and notable silent at the rude interruptions of an "anti" speaker shouted out by one of the "pro" group. Shabby conduct by the Council.

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  • Time For TruthJuly 23, 2014 - 7:16 am

    The FF City Council has the backbone of a jellyfish. Vote them ALL out!

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  • Dexter FowlerJuly 23, 2014 - 8:12 am

    Boy someone is sure getting something for this uneccessary train station that is being pushed through and shoved down our throats. I wish someone would investigate and see who is benefiting from this. Dont worry if this runs over budget the sheeple of Fairfield will just vote for another tax increase! funny how mraz is all the sudden concerned about local business!

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  • Joseph PsocJuly 23, 2014 - 4:02 pm

    I have a brilliant suggestion which could save trillions of dollars. Well, maybe billions of dollars. I have a suggestion which will save billions of dollars. Well, maybe millions of dollars. That's it. I have a suggestion which could save millions of dollars. And here it is---DO NOT BUILD THE TRAIN STATION AT ALL. Just build an over pass. I don't care if cars go over the over pass or trains go over the over pass. Probably safer for cars to go over. But that can be decided by awarding another trillion dollar contract to some favored engineering firm to make that decision. Or maybe the engineering firm will deliver the study for a billion dollars. What we really need is the FBI to come in and make a determination of exactly how many City Councilpeoples and engineering firms and associated Home Depot parking lot "craftsmen" need to be paid. Then it might all be sorted out.

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  • joey porterJuly 23, 2014 - 6:34 pm

    Public works projects are generally done under Bacon Davis (prevailing wage laws ). This means union scale wages are paid by all contractors on the job and verified by certified payroll. A contractor need not be signatory to a union in order to do work. I view this as a good thing as it provides higher wages and better conditions for workers . A PLA on the other hand requires all contractors on a project to be signatory to a union. Non union contractors are forced to sign one project agreements and their workers have to contribute to pension and benefit funds they will never see any benefit from. In additions labor unions determine which trades perform the work to be done. On the surface this sounds good we want electricians installing electrical right? On the other hand both union laborers and plumbers claim underground utilities such as water and sewer. Union plumbers are more expensive and the PLA will probably require their usage. On a prevailing wage job union base scale is required to be paid but not fringes. Most open shop firms have their own benefits , 401K ,medical etc however the total hourly cost tends to be less than a union contractor. On an 35 million dollar job there will be needed literally dozens of different kinds of specialty contractors. In some of these specialties there are very few union contractors having the skilled people to do the work. The total net effect of a PLA is a construction project costs more due to the forced payment of fringe benefits to the unions and less competition in the number of specialty subcontractors who will be willing to bid to the general contractor.

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