Solano County

Solano will continue with project labor agreements

By From page A3 | May 14, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Solano County will continue using project labor agreements on large construction projects with one change – the threshold will fall from projects of $10 million to $2.5 million.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday reviewed the county’s project labor agreement policy passed in 2004. It decided to make the revision and review it in two years to make certain local, small contractors can still compete on the smaller projects that they would likely seek.

Project labor agreements are pre-hire collective bargaining agreements. They spell out in advance such things as wages and benefits. Solano County since the early 2000s has negotiated agreements with the Napa-Solano Building Trades Council for eight projects totaling $284 million.

The county used a project labor agreement to build the $89 million Claybank Jail expansion, which is near to completion. The county’s next big project will be building a $25.6 million jobs training and education center at the Claybank Jail.

Pros of having project labor contracts include guaranteeing labor peace by getting a pledge to avoid strikes and speedily resolve interunion disputes, according to a 2001 report by Worcester Municipal Research Bureau presented to the board.

Solano County took a similar position in 2004. Its resolution in support of having project labor agreements said this method prohibits work stoppages due to labor issues, as well as provides jobs for local trades.

But the guarantee of labor peace comes at the price of reducing the opportunity for nonunion contractors to compete for projects, the Worcester report said. These contractors must operate under union rules that undermine the economies that might otherwise give them an advantage, it said.

Kevin Coleman represents the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 180. He asked supervisors that the county lower the threshold for using the project labor agreements to $1 million.

Several union officials said that, without project labor agreements, contractors from other areas and states come and get the construction jobs. Project labor agreements help keep the construction money in the area, they said.

Nicole Goehring wrote a letter to the county opposing project labor agreements on behalf of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Northern California.

“ABC supports fair and open competition and increasing opportunity for all workers regardless of their affiliation,” Goehring wrote.

Project labor agreements deny the vast majority of local contractors and small businesses the opportunity to bid on projects, Goehring wrote. That increases project costs 13 percent to 15 percent.

Supervisor Skip Thomson said the county administration center where the board meeting was taking place got built under perhaps the county’s first project labor agreement.

“I’m pretty proud of this building actually, and I think it serves the citizens and taxpayers well,” Thomson said.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday not only decided to keep a project labor agreement policy, it voted to have the county negotiate with the Napa-Solano Building Trades Council on a contract for the planned, $25.6 million Claybank Jail jobs training center.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 27 comments

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  • Rich GiddensMay 14, 2014 - 9:03 am

    And that's why California's government is grossly disloyal, grossly inefficient, grossly corrupt and grossly undesirable as a State. The union thugs drive the cost of government through the roof and their I'll gotten money provides the politician and government employees with campaign cash for the advancement and futherence of more of the disgusting same!

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  • Danny BuntinMay 14, 2014 - 8:25 pm

    Rich could care less about other people. He has his government check coming twice a month. So the hell with the rest of the people, who are trying to earn a decent wage, in this time where good jobs are far a few between.

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  • George Guynn, JrMay 14, 2014 - 9:54 am

    The taxpaying public is not well served by PLAs. They run up the cost and prevent the majority of workers from working on these projects. This is discrimination. Rich is correct about the campaign cash. Just check your local political critter's 460 form to see who is paying to get a special deal. Most contributions don't come from John and Jane Public, but from special interest groups, such as groups that love PLAs!!!! Pay to Play at it's worst!

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  • Thomas FrederickMay 14, 2014 - 11:02 am

    In public bid contracting Davis Bacon supports prevailing wage pay, plans and specifications define the project quality, and bid preference can be offered to local contractors. All without a PLA… the ONLY purpose of the PLA is to tilt the bid field such that only union contractors can play, from the general down to the subs. In a free country where entrepreneurs are encouraged to start businesses, it is discouraging to see the same country shun those small businesses from available project work. The PLA concept is union-union cronyism at it's strongest, and worst. Very disappointing to see the county board knowingly or ignorantly railroaded by the PLA special interest group. Solano, these larger union contractors you've crawled into bed with are expert in the way of change orders and post-project legal push. Not only have you banished the free-bid process on our work, you have also insured substantial additional cost and legal headache down the road.

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  • B. ThiemerMay 14, 2014 - 12:25 pm

    Is there a local example when a project without a PLA was delayed due to work stoppages and interunion disputes?

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  • Troy GarlandMay 14, 2014 - 2:32 pm

    Rich is not correct; its not union thugs. Just people trying to get workers a fair days pay for a fair days work. Not to mention a pension, which is not only deserved, but keeps retirees off the system. These so called union thugs also offer apprenticeship training, which lead to a long-term careers. You can always move to another State if your so miserable.

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  • Rich GiddensMay 14, 2014 - 2:51 pm

    So Troy, why don't you tell that big fat union lie to California's jobless and to California's impoverised taxpayer multitudes! I'm sure all those unemployed people left for non union States long ago. They are called union thugs because they extort wages and in return for their Ponzi scheme offer bankrupt government, high unemployment and an undesirable State to work and live in. You're reoeating a big lie in here pal. And if you believe things will soon change, you are mistaken. That I can assure you of. As I write this, China is completing their strategic plan to widen the Panama Canal to accommodate the transit of super cargo carrier ships. The Chinese goal is to bypass expensive unionized California ports for more efficient ports on the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. The rest of the Asian Tigers will do so too, and California will lose 33% of their Port business to Texas and other States.

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  • Rich GiddensMay 14, 2014 - 2:53 pm

    You and the unions are thugs and you along with your miserable thug government suck!

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  • Rick WoodMay 14, 2014 - 4:28 pm

    There's nothing wrong with "undermining economies that might otherwise give [nonunion contractors] an advantage," even if it costs more--and it will--as long as it is not ONLY union contractors that can meet the requirements. The devil is in the details. Unions do a great service to ensure workers are fairly treated, but employers can do the same thing. When the government is doing the contracting, this should be a non-issue, because the government should do the ensuring anyway. So have a PLA, but one the County designs, not one imposed by the unions.

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  • The MisterMay 14, 2014 - 4:35 pm

    Unions also do a great service to ensure to ensure corruption flourishes in all levels of government.

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  • Mr. PracticalMay 14, 2014 - 6:11 pm

    Rick, unions are no longer unions. They are simply collective bargaining groups that drive up the cost of goods and services. Current labors laws take care of the issues that the unions were needed for.

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  • Caro Emerald - Just one dance (lyrics) An opportunity to play flirt with Mr. Practical ( I am not serious )May 14, 2014 - 7:29 pm


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  • Rick WoodMay 14, 2014 - 7:51 pm

    Mr.P: I will leave it to the union people to address your point about whether unions still serve a social good. The increase cost doesn't bother me as long as its for a purpose I can support. Workers having pensions, for example.

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  • Mr. PracticalMay 14, 2014 - 7:59 pm

    Rick, I wish I could feel the same way. After I pay 65% of my five figure income in government taxes and fees I don't have enough money left to pay for someone else's pension. I have to worry about my family's retirement.

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  • rlwMay 14, 2014 - 8:48 pm

    Mr.P: We've been over this before. You pay too much in taxes because the people with seven figure income pay too little.

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  • Danny BuntinMay 14, 2014 - 8:33 pm

    You are so wrong Mr P. The fall of the unions, is in line with the fall of wages. It does not take a rocket scientist to correlate the two. If labor has no say, then what we have today is the result. Yes, unions can be filled with corruption, but anything with power can and will succumb to the temptation from time to time. People are beating down the door to get into a union, which provides a living wage.

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  • Whenever I think of pants, I think of you...Jimmy Fallon aka Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen - Sexy andMay 14, 2014 - 8:53 pm


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  • Noah Cover of "Sexy and I Know It" by LMFAOMay 14, 2014 - 8:59 pm


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  • http://kenraggio.com/KRPN-DevilinNWO.htmMay 14, 2014 - 6:31 pm

    Yes, Ricka, Google......... The devil is in the details illuminati....See...Ken Raggio teaches Is The Devil in the New World Order?

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  • Is there any hope for you? Do you still have a soul ? Time to Zen out....May 14, 2014 - 7:08 pm


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  • Un Amor - Gipsy Kings (with Spanish and English lyrics)May 14, 2014 - 7:57 pm


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  • Beyond the Sea / la mer ( I am trying to add some culture to this blog )May 14, 2014 - 8:20 pm


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  • George Benson - This Masquerade (with lyrics)May 14, 2014 - 8:35 pm


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  • Bob Marley - One LoveMay 14, 2014 - 8:42 pm


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  • The EnforcerMay 14, 2014 - 11:30 pm

    Just adding some creepiness.

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  • StR The above was not meMay 15, 2014 - 6:16 am

    The above was not me

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  • Say Goodnight Mr. Practical...May 14, 2014 - 9:01 pm

    or we will have to play 20 questions...!

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