CENTRAL COAST NEWS

At a meeting earlier this month, the Cuesta College Board of Trustees took the following actions to move the district forward with Measure L projects:

More than 100 people attended Wednesday’s Cuesta College Board of Trustees meeting to voice their opinion over whether contractors hired to do the jobs should be required to hire union workers.

In November, San Luis Obispo County voters approved a $275 million bond measure to be used to fund campus construction and remodeling projects. Cuesta College is required to pay prevailing wage regardless of whether or not it utilizes union workers.

OPINION BY ERIC CHRISTEN

Project Labor Agreements (PLA) discourage fair, open and competitive bidding on public works projects and discriminate against merit-shop workers, a majority of the workers in construction. We believe in increasing opportunities for all workers regardless of their labor affiliation.

PLA are a tool used by local school, city, county, state and federal officials to exclude non-union workers. On construction projects, PLA virtually guarantee that only contractors who agree to big labor’s demands can compete.

Cuesta College trustees took a significant step forward Wednesday on ambitious plans to make repairs and upgrades at its two campuses, but they left undecided a larger question about whether union workers should do the work.

Trustees voted to issue up to $75 million in bonds — about 27 percent of the $275 million bond measure approved by San Luis Obispo County voters in November.

The money will pay for various repair, construction and upgrade projects at the college’s Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo campuses.

About 150 people — union and nonunion workers — showed up to debate whether Cuesta College should pursue a project labor agreement, which would stipulate that nearly all work must be done by firms that hire union workers.

Apparently the $7.1 billion Proposition 1 water bond is going to win easily on November 4. Politicians already feel comfortable about using the money as leverage to help their political allies.

One California state legislator is already telling local elected officials in his district that they must favor unions in bidding for contracts on a water project. If they don’t follow the directive, Governor Brown won’t give them the $12.5 million (or even $15 million) allegedly reserved for them in Prop 1.

 State Assemblymember Luis Alejo said Wednesday he would not support state water bond funding for Monterey County's Interlake Tunnel project unless the county uses the design-build process outlined in state legislation he authored.

Alejo, a Watsonville Democrat, told The Herald that he had "made it clear" to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday he would not back allocating $12.5 million from the $7.54 billion bond on the November ballot if the county pursues a different course on the $25 million water storage project.

The state lawmaker noted that the state water bond funding, if it is approved by voters Nov. 4, is competitive and would need the support of legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown, and suggested there might even be additional state funding available for the project.

Alejo's AB 155, signed into law by Brown last month, would allow the Interlake Tunnel project to use one contractor to design and build the project, a move aimed at fast-tracking the project. But the legislation has drawn criticism for its inclusion of a project labor agreement.

SALINAS >> If state voters approve a water bond on the ballot next month, Monterey County would be in line for $12.5 million for the Interlake Tunnel water storage project, Assemblyman Luis Alejo said Tuesday.

During a report to the Board of Supervisors, Alejo said the water bond funding was promised by Gov. Jerry Brown in connection with Alejo-sponsored legislation designed to fast-track the $25 million project. But he also acknowledged the county would get the money regardless of whether it used the design-build process outlined the legislation.

SACRAMENTO >> Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation aimed at expediting the proposed Interlake Tunnel water storage project, but a county water official said Wednesday the project will likely bypass the new law.

The legislation, authored by State Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, is designed to fast-track the proposal by using a design-build process on the $25 million project, which calls for construction of an 8-mile pipeline between Lakes Nacimiento and San Antonio in South County. The pipeline would allow the storage of winter water flow from Nacimiento into San Antonio, which fills up three times slower than its fellow South County reservoir.

Union dealing and scheming over state legislation in California occurs behind closed doors. The sudden and unexplained recent flip of the union position on a state plastic bag ban is a typical example.

A labor agreement included in a project that would significantly increase water storage for the Salinas Valley is being heralded by labor unions as a key means to ensure everything from worker safety and needed flexibility to managing valuable time and money.

The Interlake Tunnel Project would move winter water from Lake Nacimiento roughly 11,000 feet to Lake San Antonio. The watershed around Nacimiento fills that reservoir three times faster than San Antonio, so the interlake pipeline would take advantage of unused capacity at San Antonio. The result would be better flood control, additional groundwater recharge and more water storage to help offset droughts.

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