The Santa Ana City Council has approved Orange County’s first citywide project labor agreement, establishing local hire requirements for construction projects funded by Santa Ana, according to the O.C. Register.
This is a completely ridiculous action by our City Council – they have essentially decided to prevent non union contractors from bidding on city multi-trade construction contracts exceeding $250,000 and specialty contracts over $100,000 limited to a single trade or scope of work.
By preventing open competition for city public works projects the City Council is essentially deciding to overpay for these projects. Non union workers who want to work on these projects will have to join a union for the term of the project – and will have to pay union dues for benefits they may never receive if they don’t stay with the union.
Non-union contractors tend not to bid on contracts with Project Labor Agreements because they would have to fundamentally change how they do business. For example, non-union companies may have to abandon their permanent workforce and instead obtain unknown workers from a union dispatching system. And they may have to pay health and retirement benefits to multi-employer union-affiliated trust funds instead of paying employee benefits to their own established company plans, according to the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.
By discouraging competition among general contractors and subcontractors, Project Labor Agreements tend to increase the cost of construction. Project Labor Agreements also seem to correlate with cost overruns, delays, and low participation by minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
The PLAs approved by the Rancho Santiago Community College District Trustees have been a total disaster – with huge cost overruns and delays. Somehow our Santa Ana City Council overlooked that.
The Santa Ana City Council members are all registered Democrats except for Juan Villegas who is a Decline to State Voter. PLAs only benefit the unions – and they typically donate to the political campaigns of Democrats. As such this action by the Santa Ana City Council is most likely quid pro quo – it will result in donations to the Council Members’ political campaign coffers.