BAY AREA NEWS

At the January 14, 2014 meeting of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, a representative of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council read a letter dated January 13, 2014 from Jon Friedenberg, Chief Administrative Officer of Marin General Hospital. This was unexpected.

In the letter, Friedenberg expressed his support for Project Labor Agreements. He also noted that a union agreement had been approved with the “North Bay Building Trades” (actually the Marin Building and Construction Trades Council) for the Marin General Hospital replacement project.

Allowing all contractors to bid will ensure competition, avoid excessive cost

Project labor agreements (PLAs) have never been used on Sonoma County public projects. In fact, on Sept. 18, 2012, the county board of supervisors considered a similar policy that was never enacted. The county subsequently awarded a $22.7 million contract for the Sonoma County Airport Runway project without a PLA.

On Jan. 14, after more than three hours of public comment, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors backed a proposed policy for PLAs on public construction projects of more than $10 million that will decrease local opportunities for 84 percent of construction workers. While some would have you believe PLAs are a good thing, research and experience shows they result in reduced competition and increased costs.

When it comes time to expand the Solano Community College Vallejo satellite campus, construction workers will be operating under a controversial project labor agreement.

Plans for Vallejo Center include building a second building, and establishing a variety of services, including more student programs and a cafeteria.

All that work, plus much more at the Fairfield and Vacaville campuses, will be paid for through the $348 million voter-approved Measure Q bonds.

A controversial labor agreement goes before the Solano Community College board of trustees tonight.

The labor agreement for projects funded through voter-approved Measure Q bonds has generated considerable interest among contractors and union groups.

The agreement applies to all projects within Measure Q guidelines that exceed $4.5 million in construction value. It does not apply to maintenance and operations projects.

Pros and cons of the latest Solano Community College project labor agreement were aired Thursday during a governing board meeting at the school's main Fairfield campus.

Trustees are considering the agreement to guide how construction will be done during the rollout of the $348 million Measure Q bond, approved by voters in November.

Through the years, the bond will pay for several major building projects in the community college district, which includes the Vacaville Center on North Village Parkway, as well as for expansion of military and disabled veteran access to affordable education, upgrading employer job placement facilities and improving nursing and firefighter training centers.

A labor agreement which has generated considerable interest among contractors and union groups goes before the Solano Community College board at tonight's trustee meeting.

The board will make no decision on the proposed Project Labor Agreement slated to cover all projects funded with the voter-approved Measure Q bonds.

Instead, trustees will review the latest proposal during a study session and hear from anyone wishing to speak on the issue.

Decision day for Apple Campus 2 is Tuesday. That's when the Cupertino City Council will vote on the massive spaceship campus - either to let the tech giant move forward or to halt it in its tracks.

It's hard to remember another city council meeting with so much anticipation. Which is odd, because Cupertino's decision on whether to approve one of the country's largest buildings doesn't seem to be very up in the air. At public meetings so far, and in comment letters submitted to the city, it's been pretty much a love-fest. (The Merc's Troy Wolverton has a very different take in his must-read column out today, which you can read here.)

I spent part of the morning poring through the council packet for tomorrow's meeting. Here are a couple takeaways, along with a few residual questions I have.

Monday, 28 October 2013 10:39

Warriors' S.F. arena costs piling up

If spending a lot of dough and outsmarting a determined defense is what it takes to get the team a new arena on the San Francisco waterfront, the Golden State Warriors owners say they are game.

The cost to rehabilitate the aging piers where the arena would perch - as much as $170 million -"is a lot higher than we originally started with," co-owner Joe Lacob said at a San Francisco Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday to kick off the team's NBA season and promote the proposed $1 billion arena project.

"It's a big number," Lacob said. "But look, we're privately doing this, and we've made the decision we're going to do it. It's more expensive than we thought, but you only live once."

The San Jose City Council on Tuesday wasn't buying a union's environmental challenge to One South Market, the sleek new apartment high-rise coming out of the ground downtown.

The council voted 9-2 to reject the claim made by the Santa Clara and San Benito Building and Construction Trades Council. We first told you about the appeal Tuesday morning.

At Tuesday's council meeting, union CEO Neil Struthers said the group supports the tower's construction, but takes issue with hiring out-of-area subcontractors and what he characterized as inappropriate exemptions from certain city requirements, such as underpaying for affordable housing fees.

SAN JOSE -- Critics of California environmental law called a labor group's legal challenge to a downtown San Jose high-rise an example of "greenmail" abuse in which unions threaten builders with bogus claims to control hiring.

The San Jose City Council voted 9-2 Tuesday to reject environmental approval appeals brought by the Santa Clara & San Benito Counties Building and Construction Trades Council over the 23-story One South Market project.

"I think this is just an abuse of the environmental process," Mayor Chuck Reed said.

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