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CFEC Crane Logo 2012
PRESS RELEASE
April 8, 2014
Contact: Eric Christen
(858) 431-6337 

Mailers to Thousands of Santa Barbara County Residents Blasts Union Attempt to Exclude Local Workers from County Jail Project Work 

 Discussion to Place Union-Only Project Labor Agreement on $96+ Million County Jail Set for April 15th

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) has sentmailers to tens of thousands of Santa Barbara County residents to educate them about the latest attempt in Santa Barbara County to discriminate against union-free construction workers. The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors are currently set to discuss the issue of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on the County's $96.1 million Northern Branch Jail project at their April 15th board meeting. In 2010 unions attempted to put into place a county-wide PLA but were beat back when CFEC helped organize a coalition of local businesses, taxpayers, and workers to stop it.

"It is unfortunate that the supervisors are again bringing L.A.-style politics to Santa Barbara by giving serious consideration to a Big Labor scheme whose only intent is to exclude union-free workers, apprentices, and contractors." said Eric Christen, executive director of CFEC. "By doing this they will only increase the cost of this project, something the Oxnard Union High School District School Board just learned about the hard way when their PLA covered high school project came in $10 million over estimates"

PLAs are union crafted "agreements" that force workers to pay union dues, pay into union benefit packages, and be hired through union hiring halls. They also explicitly exclude non-union apprentices from working.

The issue is set to be discussed at the County Administration Building, Board Hearing Room, Fourth Floor, 105 E Anapamu St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 at 9:00am on April 15th. CFEC will also be holding an informational event  that evening at the Fess Parker Hotel from 5:00-7:00pm on April 15th located at 633 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93103. For more information or to RSVP for this event contact Alicia Pearlman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

 

The lastest edition of CFEC's PLA Update is out, check it out here.

 

CFEC Crane Logo 2012
PRESS RELEASE
March 6, 2014
Contact: Eric Christen

Coalition Demands that the Union Crafted Agreement be Made Public at Today's Contractor Outreach Meeting!

 Union "agreement" has been kept hidden for months yet will impact how $500+ million arena is constructed. Group will ask once again today "Where is the PLA?!"

Sacramento, CA - Today the Sacramento Kings and their lead contractor, Turner Construction, will be holding a "contractor outreach" meeting to discuss job opportunities for local businesses. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has even applauded the Kings and Turner claiming a commitment to local and small businesses by promoting contracting in the Sacramento region. However this will never happen if a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) is in place. 
 
Thanks to the PLA that was crafted in a backroom deal by local union bosses and team owners, that has still not been made public, the 85% of the local construction workforce that is union-free will be implicitly excluded from bidding the work unless they essentially become union. The PLA was first announced at a press conference held by Mayor Kevin Johnson on September 4, 2013, that turned into a debacle for PLA supporters when PLA opponents showed up and dominated the media coverage.
 
"With the owners and Turner now having to meet with local businesses to explain how to bid the work, they may actually have to make public this secret deal they have been too embarrassed to show to date." said Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC). "It's humiliating to be claiming on the one hand that this will be a boon for local businesses when in reality you know that union labor from all over the country will build it because local bidders have been locked out."
 
PLAs typically require workers to pay union dues, pay into union benefit packages (even though they already have such plans), to be hired through a union hiring hall, and explicitly excludes non-union apprentices from working at all. PLAs have been banned in 11 different California cities and counties, and in 16 different states. In 2012 the city of San Diego, America's 8th largest city, voted 58% to 42% to ban their use on city-funded projects.
 
"We will continue to demand that this secret deal that Big Labor special interests have crafted be made public so that everyone can see first hand just how exclusionary and costly it will be for the owners, the contractors, the taxpayers, and the workers."
 
Today's contractor outreach meeting will be held at the Robertson Community Center located at 3525 Norwood Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95838. It will run from 5:00pm to 6:30pm. 
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The lastest edition of CFEC's PLA Update is out, check it out here.

 

CFEC Crane Logo 2012
PRESS RELEASE
February 19, 2014
Contact: Eric Christen
(858) 431-6337 

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Calls for Public Access to Backroom Union Deal Imposed on Proposed Sacramento Kings Arena

The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction is demanding that the Sacramento Kings ownership and the Sacramento-Sierra Building and Construction Trades Council immediately release to the public a copy of an alleged Project Labor Agreement for the proposed Kings Arena. It is reported that construction companies will have to sign this contract with unions as a condition of building the proposed $447 million publicly-subsidized Entertainment and Sports Center.

"The Project Labor Agreement now plays an important role in the executive and judicial operations of the City of Sacramento," said Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, a statewide organization that supports fair and open bidding competition on public works projects.

"When will citizens get to see it themselves? When will the city's political leadership have a chance to review this backroom deal? Why aren't community leaders interested in verifying Mayor Johnson's relentless claims about the wonders of this union agreement?" Christen adds.

"I'm guessing there is something embarrassing in that union deal," said Christen. "The Kings have to suppress it, just like they suppress a public vote on the arena subsidy."

Beyond the mere fact that a Project Labor Agreement is imposed on a public works project receiving a $258 million public subsidy, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction provides three examples to show why the Project Labor Agreement is a matter of public concern:

  • Mayor Kevin Johnson held a press conference on September 4, 2013 to announce the Project Labor Agreement. (The ill-fated press conference, coordinated by the elite Mercury Public Affairs firm, backfired when opponents of the backroom union deal held their own impromptu press conference immediately afterwards.)
  • At the State of the City address on February 12, 2014, Mayor Johnson extensively cited alleged benefits and conditions of the Project Labor Agreement, including a comment about a provision for homeless people and convicted criminals to build the arena.
  • Unions and community organizations filed a brief in court on February 14, 2014 in support of the City of Sacramento's position that a petition for a public vote on the arena subsidy failed to qualify for the ballot. The basis for submitting that amicus brief is the alleged Project Labor Agreement.

A public records request submitted by Kevin Dayton of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC to the Office of the Mayor on October 16, 2013 failed to uncover the Project Labor Agreement, although it revealed correspondence about the deal between the mayor's office, union representatives, and personnel of Mercury Public Affairs, an elite public relations firm working for the Sacramento Kings ownership. Dayton's public attempts to obtain the backroom union deal and expose it have provoked mockery and derision from supporters of the Kings arena $258 million public subsidy.

"The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction had to sue the City of San Diego in 2013 to wean the San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion Project Labor Agreement out of the hands of the wheelers and dealers," said Christen. "In the process, we also obtained the actual union deal and the complete list of political payoffs to unions from the San Diego Mayor's office."

------

Proof We Mean Business - Lawsuit Coughed Up a Union Deal in San Diego in 2013

2013 Lawsuit Against City of San Diego to Obtain Secret Project Labor Agreement:

http://sandiegoconventioncenterscam.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Coalition-for-Fair-Employment-in-Construction-v-City-of-San-Diego.pdf

Secret Convention Center Union Deal Revealed in Private Email of Chief of Staff to Mayor:

http://sandiegoconventioncenterscam.com/new-secret-convention-center-union-deal-revealed-in-private-email-of-chief-of-staff-to-former-mayor-jerry-sanders/

We Got It: The Secret Project Labor Agreement for San Diego Convention Center:

http://sandiegoconventioncenterscam.com/san-diego-convention-center-phase-3-expansion-project-labor-agreement/

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Friday, 24 January 2014 02:11

PLA Update: 2014 Off to a Bang in PLA Fight

CFEC's PLA Update is out, check it out here.

California local governments began requiring companies to sign Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) with unions to work on taxpayer-funded construction in the mid-1990s.
 
At that time, unions sold Project Labor Agreements as a way to guarantee "labor peace" on huge infrastructure projects. If they went on strike, work might continue as usual on job sites where there was a Project Labor Agreement.
 
But the percentage of California construction workers who belonged to a union continued its dramatic decline. Unions needed Project Labor Agreements to keep their market share from dropping to virtually nothing, like it had done in the 1990s in places such as Denver.
CFEC Crane Logo 2012
PRESS RELEASE
January 8, 2014
Contact: Eric Christen
(858) 431-6337 

Coalition Demands Environmental Impact Report for Proposed Policy Giving Unions Monopoly on County of Sonoma Construction Contracts

 Board of Supervisors to Vote on Project Labor Agreement Policy on January 14

Sonoma, CA - The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction submitted a letter to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today warning them that the county must prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This must identify and mitigate environmental impacts for its proposed Project Labor Agreement policy and consider alternatives to the union-backed scheme.

"County supervisors are about to give unions a monopoly on construction projects," says Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction. "They don't care if workers pour in from Solano County and Contra Costa County, as long as the union dues money ends up in their campaign accounts."

In a seven-page letter, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction informed the Board of Supervisors that "significantly more construction workers are likely to commute into Sonoma County via such 'back roads' as Lakeville Highway, thus creating an adverse impact on traffic and air quality." It outlines numerous steps that the County of Sonoma needs to take for producing an appropriate and legal environmental review.

It also rebuts claims from County of Sonoma staff that the Project Labor Agreement policy will help create a sustainable economy and would aid the county's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "The county has absolutely no scientific or factual evidence to back that statement," says Christen. "In fact, this union monopoly will increase greenhouse gas emissions."

The letter points out a revealing statement in a brief submitted to the California Supreme Court by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, a union lobbying group. That brief states that "construction workers today routinely commute to projects outside the cities in which they happen to live" and "it is not uncommon for today's construction workers to commute more than 100 miles to work at a job site."

The Board of Supervisors considered a proposal at its September 18, 2012 meeting to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of working on the Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport Runway Safety Area (RSA) Improvement Project. In the end, the Board of Supervisors did not mandate a Project Labor Agreement, and the county subsequently awarded a $22.7 million contract without a Project Labor Agreement. This contract award was not controversial; the board approved it unanimously.

 

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January 8, 2014

Board of Supervisors

County of Sonoma

575 Administration Drive, Room 100 A

Santa Rosa, CA  95403

Dear Supervisors:

You are once again considering a policy to require companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with trade unions as a condition of working under a County construction or construction-related professional services contract for projects with a cost threshold above a certain amount. Both supporters and opponents of this Project Labor Agreement policy acknowledge this policy will change the composition of the County of Sonoma's construction contract workforce.

Unions will gain a significant degree of control over the hiring and referral of construction trade workers and construction-related professional service workers to contractors on larger County construction projects after the County adopts the Project Labor Agreement policy. Companies that sign the policy will have to obtain their trade workers (both journeymen and apprentices) through union hiring hall dispatching procedures referred to in the Project Labor Agreement and elaborated in Master Labor Agreements and other union administrative documents and unwritten practices for each individual trade.

As a result of these changes, significantly more construction workers are likely to commute into Sonoma County via such "back roads" as Lakeville Highway, thus creating an adverse impact on traffic and air quality. The County has overlooked statutes and guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and failed to consider how the Project Labor Agreement policy will cause either a direct physical change in the environment or a reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment. Nor has it considered feasible alternatives to the Project Labor Agreement policy that would avoid complications to current traffic patterns or increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

To determine and mitigate these impacts and allow for legitimate consideration of alternatives, the County is required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to prepare an Environmental Impact Report.

The County Recognizes an Environmental Impact, But Its Assumptions Are Wrong

A staff report on the Project Labor Agreement policy for the September 18, 2012 Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting contended that a Project Labor Agreement policy would have an environmental impact. It claimed that Project Labor Agreements would "help create a sustainable economy" and would be "aiding the County's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

However, the County did not cite any evidence to support this finding. The claim lacked substance and was not based on scientific or factual evidence. No explanation was provided about how union hiring and referral procedures work in practice. No data was presented about who works on county contracts or how many active construction trade workers living in Sonoma County are members of a union or represented by a union. No studies were cited showing the composition of the Sonoma County construction workforce or of the County of Sonoma construction contract workforce.

County of Sonoma staff and elected Board of Supervisors have depended on the unsubstantiated opinion and narrative of union representatives and lobbyists as a basis for evaluating the actual impacts of the Project Labor Agreement policy. This is not responsible environmental analysis.

Assumptions about local hiring and Project Labor Agreements are often wrong. For example, on February 24, 2010, a committee of the San Diego City Council directed the city attorney to develop a local hiring policy that would encourage contractors to have 70 percent of employees on city construction projects as residents of San Diego County. Union officials declared that the policy that could meet this goal would be a Project Labor Agreement. But certified payroll records analyzed by city staff showed that about 90 percent of workers on city construction projects covered by prevailing wage in 2009 were already residents of San Diego County. The Project Labor Agreement policy would have encouraged a goal that would have reduced local hiring, perhaps to accommodate large union geographical jurisdictions and the status of travelers. In the end, the proposal was not enacted.

It is reasonable to assume that the County of Sonoma Project Labor Agreement policy will have a significant adverse effect on the environment in Sonoma County - hindering a sustainable economy and increasing greenhouse gas emissions through more commuting traffic. In its opening brief submitted to the California Supreme Court in State Building and Construction Trades Council v. City of Vista, the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California states that "construction workers today routinely commute to projects outside the cities in which they happen to live" and "it is not uncommon for today's construction workers to commute more than 100 miles to work at a job site."

This is presumably the true nature of union construction under a Project Labor Agreement policy. Newspaper stories and newsletter articles about construction projects in the San Francisco Bay Area covered by a Project Labor Agreement frequently identify workers as residents of the Central Valley. It's likely that a substantial percentage of union workers on Sonoma County projects are actually residents of Solano County and Contra Costa County.

Union Hiring and Referral Procedures

Through its proposed Project Labor Agreement policy, the County of Sonoma is regulating the activities of private individuals, corporations, and public agencies. Up to this time, many of the County's construction contractors have hired and assigned their employees to projects using hiring and evaluation procedures traditionally practiced in most industries. But under the Project Labor Agreement policy, the County's construction contractors will obtain and retain their employees based on specific conditions outlined in the Project Labor Agreement, supplemented by formal and informal union hiring and referral procedures.

Based on an perusal of lists of bidders and their subcontractors on recent County projects, there is a substantial presence of construction companies in Sonoma County that are not signatory to any agreements with a union or are signatory to agreements with unions that only represent a portion of their trade employees. As shown by the aggressive opposition to the Project Labor Agreement policy from construction trade associations and individual company representatives in Sonoma County, most of these companies will not bid on projects for which the contract specifications require the company to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions.

Background material about the proposed policy provided by staff to the elected Board of Supervisors does not give the board or the public an explanation of union hiring, referral, and retention procedures or how these procedures are implemented in actual practice. What are the characteristics of the pool of workers that will be discouraged or ineligible for employment on County projects under this policy? What are the characteristics of the pool of workers that will now have greater chances of employment on County projects under this policy?

Considerations for the County of Sonoma in Evaluating Environmental Impacts

Below is a list of information that Sonoma County properly and legally needs to obtain as it studies the potential for direct or reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment as a result of the proposed Project Labor Agreement policy: 

  1. The number or percentage of construction trade workers on recent Sonoma County projects who are permanent residents of Sonoma County. The County cannot assume that this policy has no measurable impact on the environment (or will even "help create a sustainable economy") if it doesn't have any baseline statistics.
  2. The number or percentage of construction trade workers on recent Sonoma County projects who are permanent residents of Sonoma County and were represented by a union during that time of employment.
  3. The number or percentage of construction trade workers on recent Sonoma County projects who are permanent residents of Sonoma County and were not represented by a union during that time of employment. Based on the published membership of construction trade associations, it seems that Sonoma County is home to a substantial number of medium-sized non-union subcontractors that perform public works construction on building structures, as well as a few large and some medium-sized non-union general contractors that perform public works construction on building structures. These companies are likely to have a workforce that substantially lives in Sonoma County.
  4. The total number or percentage of construction trade workers who are permanent residents of Sonoma County and who are employed by construction companies that are bound to a collective bargaining agreement with trade unions.
  5. The number or percentage of construction trade workers who are permanent residents of Sonoma County and who are employed by construction companies that are not bound to a collective bargaining agreement with trade unions.
  6. The number of construction workers in each specific construction trade who are permanent residents of Sonoma County and are members of a union and are also actively working or seeking work through the union hiring halls. 
  7. The geographical jurisdictions of the construction trade unions that will be dispatching workers to construction companies performing contract work for the county under the terms and conditions of the Project Labor Agreement.
  8. The specific procedures and policies used by the applicable construction trade unions to dispatch workers to construction companies under the Project Labor Agreement. For example, which workers get priority in dispatch? Will unions scramble their lists to favor a Sonoma County resident, as a result unfairly bypassing a Marin County resident who was rightfully at the top of the waiting list for dispatch? That seems unlikely. Note that a Project Labor Agreement can only set goals for local hiring - it can't require local hiring.
  9. The likelihood that a worker who is "hired through a Sonoma County-based hiring hall" is necessarily going to be a resident of Sonoma County. Union general contractors and subcontractors that perform public works building construction often have large market regions that encompass the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Even the staff report for the Project Labor Agreement policy acknowledges that "The disadvantage of limiting Core Workers is that a local contractor may be required to use workers dispatched through the hall that are not actually county residents."
  10. The likely bidders for the next round of County projects to which this policy will apply. How many prospective bidders for this work are based in Sonoma County? Which electrical contractors are likely to bid on it, etc.?
  11. The number of workers by trade needed for the next round of County projects to which this policy will apply and the amount of working days anticipated for these workers. Is there going to be a caravan driving up from Fairfield every morning? Will the unions provide buses?
  12. The likelihood that the Project Labor Agreement policy increase traffic and greenhouse gas emissions more for some trades than other trades. It is absurd to make blanket statements about the construction workforce as a whole. It appears that some trades - such as Ironworker - are dominated by union workers, while other trades such as Painter seem to be dominated by non-union workers. Note that there is one Ironworker collective bargaining agreement and one prevailing wage determination for the entire state, which suggests that workers can travel for work within a large jurisdiction. Painters who work in Sonoma County presumably are more likely to actually live in Sonoma County.
  13. Accurate membership numbers for unions. Numbers cited by unions at public meetings and in letters are often deceptive and need to be thoroughly analyzed by the county. Some trade unions represent public employees as well as - or rather than - building trade workers who are dispatched to construction contractors. Also, just because someone paid union dues in the previous year doesn't necessarily mean that person is available for work in the area. A distinction also needs to be made between active members and retirees.

How Can the County Prepare an Accurate Environmental Impact Report?

1. Obtain Master Labor Agreements and administrative policies of each trade union that thoroughly define the geographical jurisdiction of the union and the dispatching process for its members and workers represented by the union who are not members. How are they classified in various priorities for dispatch to a job site? Are there "books" such as Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, etc.? Such information could be presented in this way:   

2. Consult U.S. Department of Labor LM-2s and IRS Form 990s to determine active membership of each union that would sign any Project Labor Agreement under the County policy. Unions should provide more specific information, such as charts showing the counties of residence for each active member. Information could be cross-referenced to ensure greater accuracy. Such information could be presented in this way:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 3. Examine certified payroll records for construction contract employees on County projects for the past five years. How many live in Sonoma County? How many don't? Such information could be presented in this way:   

4.Survey all prime contractors and subcontractors on County projects for the past five years, to determine which trades they employed and which of those trades were unionized. Rather than identifying each company as "union" or "non-union," the County should determine the union status of each trade employed by the contractor:

 

5. Once that information is obtained, the Environmental Impact Report would have factual information about each trade. Here is an example:

  

This chart would allow an environmental review to make reasonable conclusions about the policy's impact on traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, and housing. It shows clearly that the Project Labor Agreement will dramatically shift the welding trade on County projects from Sonoma County residents to residents outside the County. And since the International Brotherhood of Welders, Local 379 only has 53 members in Sonoma County and 139 members overall (as shown in an earlier chart above), it's obvious the Project Labor Agreement policy will bring in welders from outside of the County, especially travelers who will probably drive from Solano County and Contra Costa County to the job site via Lakeville Highway. And because John Doe Construction is the only contractor based in Sonoma County that employs union welders, statistics collected for the welding trade suggest there will be a reduction of Sonoma County contractors working on County projects.

What Are Alternatives to a Project Labor Agreement Policy? 

  1. A Project Labor Agreement policy that allows a construction company to obtain all of its trade workers from any source, provided the company is not already signatory to a Master Labor Agreement for that particular trade. This would allow companies not signatory to a Master Labor Agreement for all or some trades to maintain their own permanent workforce.
  2. Establishment of a labor compliance program and contractor prequalification questionnaire for County projects above a certain construction cost threshold. This would reduce chances that a construction contractor on a County project willfully or accidently violates the law.
  3. No change in County construction contract requirements, under the premise that there was no recognizable need for the Project Labor Agreement policy in the first place.

There is one obvious project that the Environmental Impact Report should evaluate to provide insight on alternatives to the Project Labor Agreement policy. The Board of Supervisors considered a proposal at its September 18, 2012 meeting to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of working on the Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport Runway Safety Area (RSA) Improvement Project. In the end, the Board of Supervisors did not mandate a Project Labor Agreement, and the County subsequently awarded a $22.7 million contract without a Project Labor Agreement. This contract award was not controversial; the board approved it unanimously.

We look forward to being a constructive player in helping the County to develop an accurate, comprehensive Environmental Impact Report for its proposed Project Labor Agreement policy.

Sincerely,

 eric

 

Eric Christen

Executive Director

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

PO Box 1627

Poway, CA  92074

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.opencompca.com

 

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction - P.O. Box 1627 - Poway, California 92074

Tel: (858) 633-6523 - Fax: (760) 690-4471 - www.opencompca.com

Thursday, 02 January 2014 11:56

CFEC Mailers

 Mailers - All-page-001

Mailers - All-page-002

CFEC Crane Logo 2012
MEDIA ALERT
December 12, 2013
Contact: Eric Christen
The4000 Campaign Highlights Union Backroom Deal and Union Favoritism
Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Incredulous at Campaign Name for Sacramento Kings Arena Public Subsidy
Sacramento - Leaders of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction cannot believe that the campaign committee to defend a public subsidy for the Sacramento Kings Arena is called The4000.
 
Most of those 4,000 jobs are supposed to come from construction of the arena. Those construction workers will be under a Project Labor Agreement that their employers must sign as a condition of working on the arena.
 
"This campaign is apparently about union favoritism granted by State Senator Darrell Steinberg and other political friends of union lobbyists" said Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction.
 
"Those workers have to pay union dues and initiation fees of unknown amounts, and the money they earn under prevailing wage laws for fringe benefits goes to union programs. Apprentices have to come from union programs."
 
Christen notes that the Project Labor Agreement, announced at a disastrous press conference at Downtown Plaza on September 4th, 2013 organized by Mercury Public Affairs and featuring Mayor Kevin Johnson, has never been released to the public.
 
Neither was the Project Labor Agreement discussed or voted on by the Sacramento City Council.
 
"There must be something in that Project Labor Agreement that unions don't want the public to know about," says Christen.
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