The Rancho Santiago Community College District’s Trustees are meeting tonight to consider a busy agenda that includes “Approval to Negotiate a Project Labor Agreement Action.” The administration of the RSCCD is recommending authorization be given to their Chancellor to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles/Orange County Building Trades Council.
Some people never learn! We warned Santa Ana voters last year not to vote for Measure Q – the latest bond measure of the RSCCD, which will increase our property taxes in order to supposedly pay for construction at the Santa Ana College campus. We already had approved a previous bond measure, Measure E, which the RSCCD wasted on the Santiago Canyon campus in Orange and on the construction of the O.C. Deputy Sheriff Training center (which was not needed with about five such centers within half an hour of Orange County).
In 2003, the RSCCD Trustees placed a union-crafted Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on all Measure E bond work. Measure E had been passed by voters in 2002 with no hint of a controversial PLA would be used. Voters were not warned about a PLA regarding Measure Q either!
The PLA vote occurred despite vigorous opposition from local workers, taxpayers, apprentices, contractors and contractor associations. The board was told that a PLA was simply a payoff to union bosses and that it openly discriminated against the 85% of the local construction workforce that was union-free.
How do PLAs do this? PLAs force workers to pay union dues, pay into union pension plans, be hired through a union hiring hall, and explicitly forbid non-union apprentices from working at all.
PLAs are so controversial that they have been banned in 11 entities in California including the County of Orange and the City of San Diego, where just this past June residents voted 58%-42% to forbid them.
At the time of their vote in 2003 the College’s own construction manager told the board a PLA would add 5-15% to the cost of any project. They were warned them of the same thing. In fact I personally testified against the PLA. How would the PLA raise construction costs? Simple – fewer non-union shops would bid on their work with a PLA in place. Fewer bidders equals increased costs.
The RSCCD wasted so much money on Measure E, because of the PLA, that Trustee John Hanna told me he would never again vote for another PLA. He told me that the PLA created costly delays and increased costs. I was of course not surprised. That is exactly what I had predicted!
Last summer the most comprehensive study on PLAs ever conducted was released by the National University System Institute for Policy Research. It looked into more than 500 school construction projects throughout California and found that those districts who used PLAs added 13-15% to the cost of those projects. What that means for RSCCD’s $335 million Measure E was that its value was reduced by up to $50 million. What that means to you is that your money was wasted by the RSCCD Trustees who voted for the union-only PLA.
The RSCCD Trustees are about to rip off the voters yet again! Members of the RSCCD Board of Trustees can be reached by calling (714) 480-7452 or sending an email. RSCCD Trustee Jose Solorio is running for the 34th State Senate District in 2014. If he votes to approve this PLA I am withdrawing my endorsement of his campaign and will support anyone else but him.