Today (July 8, 2014), the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement (disguised as a "Project Stabilization Agreement) with the Tri-Counties Building and Construction Trades Council for Phase II of construction of the county's North Branch Jail and for the Sheriff's Transition and Reentry (S.T.A.R.) Complex. These would be the first government-mandated Project Labor Agreements in Santa Barbara County.
Union leaders have tried since 2010 to convince the county's elected board to require construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of contract work. To address unsubstantiated union claims why the county must mandate Project Labor Agreements, the board has passed various measures to encourage local hire and ensure contractor compliance with labor laws. These new policies have not satisfied the unions, nor have they satisfied Supervisor Salud Carbajal, the primary champion on the board for the union agenda. Also jumping onto the quest for a Project Labor Agreement is Central Coast Alliance United for A Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), a leftist community activist organization.
On April 15, 2014, the board voted 5-0 to direct staff to develop a "framework" for negotiating a Project Labor Agreement on the jail project. In its report for the July 8 meeting, the staff warned the Board of Supervisors of potential negative impacts:
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Santa Barbara County has won a $38 million state grant to build an inmate rehabilitation, recovery and re-entry facility next to its planned new North County Jail west of Santa Maria along Betteravia and Black Roads.
The County Board of Supervisors were told they needed to act on accepting the grant for the so-called STAR Complex facility, and agree to commit millions more of county funds to complete and operate the 227-bed facility that will focus on helping non-violent, repeat offenders return to society as productive, law-abiding citizens.
"It will increase safety and improve working and housing conditions for both staff and inmates", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told Supervisors during a project update Tuesday morning, "and ultimately it will increase public safety by helping turn lives around and delivering programs that improve inmate re-entry into the community and reduce recidivism and the revolving door of people going back into the criminal justice system."
If you have extra money to spend to pay off extortionists, the quickest way for politicians to do this is to create a Project Labor Agreement with unions. These assure a 15-20% premium for the work done on behalf of the public. In exchange, the unions privately agree no strikes or work stoppages. This is called blackmail in the real world—in government it is called labor peace. Then at election time the unions used the forced dues to pay for the election of those that paid them off and the defeat of those that opposed this form of legal corruption.
Santa Barbara County is so rich, they have no problem paying off unions.
“The General Services Department has developed an Engineers Estimate to construct the Northern Branch Jail AB 900 Phase II Project (Attachment #1) that does not include the provisions required of a PSA…PSAs also require that all contractors working on a project adhere to a collective bargaining agreement; even nonunion contractors must operate under negotiated rules…Establishing a Project Stabilization Agreement will require discussion with various stakeholders and negotiation with the Tri-County Building and Construction Trades Council (TCBT).”
A roundly praised interlake tunnel project will get an initial $500,000 in start-up funding from the county's general fund, but any further funding will come with conditions.
On Tuesday, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors agreed to tap the county's own accounts to get the project started, but insisted that any request for more of the estimated $2.5 million to get the project to construction must include a bidding process.
The $25 million project calls for building a pipeline between Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio in South County to allow water to flow from the former, which fills up faster, to the latter, which can be used to store the water for later use.
Here's an email I sent this morning (June 23, 2014) to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors about the need for openness and transparency concerning the state-mandated Project Labor Agreement provision in Assembly Bill 155, which authorizes the Monterey County Water Resources Authority to use design-build procurement for the interlake pipeline project. I propose that the board's Legislative Committee "uncancel" its June 30 meeting to discuss AB 155.
From: Kevin Dayton
Subject: Board of Supervisors: Request to "Uncancel" and Convene 6/30 Legislative Committee Meeting – AB 155 and Project Labor Agreement
Date: June 23, 2014 at 12:19:22 PM PDT
To: Monterey County Board of Supervisors
Dear Monterey County Board of Supervisors:
Assemblyman Luis Alejo has gutted and amended Assembly Bill 155 to become an "urgency" bill to authorize the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to use the design-build procurement procedure in bidding the interlake pipeline project. That bill includes a provision never-before included in a design-build authorization bill that requires the design-build entity to enter into a project labor agreement with construction trade unions that will "bind all of the contractors performing work on the project."
Ostensibly to save money, one supervisor is opposed to spending an extra six thousand dollars on a fake mission tower adorning the new county jail, but she is willing to risk upwards of twenty million in approving a Project Labor Agreement (PLA), apparently to give union contractors an advantage in bidding on the jail construction project! Welcome to the malfeasance of Supervisor Janet Wolf in response to a presentation by Sheriff Bill Brown.
Sheriff Bill Brown came before the board to discuss approval of the draft architectural and schematic designs of the new county jail. The project is going to cost $90 million but thanks to the effort of the sheriff in securing money from the State of California, we are only paying ten cents on the dollar towards the cost of construction. Supervisor Wolf objected to the county's expenditure of $6,000 because she does not think the aesthetic touch is worth the money. North county supervisors and residents disagreed and so did the county's board of architectural review. Wolf apparently wants the jail to look like all other drab prison facilities even though this project has a focus on rehabilitation and reentry into society. Who can explain why Wolf, who is known for being a stickler for design guidelines, all of a sudden became a penny pincher? Perhaps the old adage "out of sight, out of mind" explains this anomaly?
The more important issue that needs to be discussed is the proposed PLA. Construction companies and taxpayer groups oppose these agreements because they can drive up construction costs 10-30%. The resultant cost of our PLA could be tens of millions of dollars. The increased cost is due to the fact that only union contractors will bid on the project because of the specific provisions having to do with a PLA.
Oxnard Union High School District is scheduled to hear the final cost for the construction of Rancho Campana High School at a special meeting Monday, and it probably won't like what it hears.
The initial price tag of nearly $60 million caused board members sticker shock.
They're expecting to see that number go down—but not by much.
Sometimes you can predict the future.
In the fall of 2013, business and taxpayer organizations warned the elected board of the Oxnard Union High School District in Ventura County (north of Los Angeles, on the coast) that it would endure reduced bid competition and higher construction costs if it required companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the Tri-County Building and Construction Trades Council as a condition of working on the Rancho Campana High School construction project.
The union-backed proposal abruptly emerged at the board's October 9 meeting and consumed the board and district administrators for more than two months.
In November, the Oxnard Union High School District board of trustees, in a contentious 3-2 vote, approved a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for its $48 million Rancho Campana High School project. The packed board meeting was charged and divided all because three trustees (Wayne Edmonds, Socorro Lopez Hanson and Steve Hall) put big labor special interests ahead of taxpayers, reason and worker rights.
At that time, we warned the three that the PLA would raise costs substantially because it would all but guarantee the 85 percent of the local construction workforce that is union-free would not be able to work on a project paid for by their tax dollars. The results are now in.
The PLA has resulted in a 20 percent increase in the cost of the project, so instead of paying $48 million to build the new high school, taxpayers will now be paying $59 million.
The percussive banging of an inmate punching the door of his jail cell echoes throughout the Central corridor of the Santa Barbara County Main Jail. He's hitting so hard that it shakes not only the nerves of the guards and inmates around him, but the floor as well.
"It's a cry for help," a prison guard says.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Laz Salinas, the man who manages jail staff and operations, walks through the Central hallway, stopping at an out-of-order elevator. Salinas says an inmate purposefully flooded the cell next to it to short out the elevator, running up a $45,000 tab in repairs.