SACRAMENTO NEWS

The Sacramento Planning and Design Commission gave the proposed downtown arena a green light Thursday night. With a unanimous vote, the board recommended approval to the City Council both for the arena and entitlements for surrounding development.

Coming after more than four hours of presentations, public comments and debate, the commission didn't recommend separating the surrounding development from the arena itself, as some speakers representing union groups suggested.

Commissioners seemed inclined to support assertions by city of Sacramento staff and representatives from the Sacramento Kingsthat such development would still get a full public vetting.

The next point of contention over Sacramento's downtown redevelopment may not stem from the arena, but planned ancillary development.

Seeing the proposed commercial, residential and hotel projects neighboring the arena as moving too fast without enough details, the Sacramento Central Labor Council has requested the city planning commission and council  approve the arena, but to hold off on the entitlements for projects nearby.

In its resolution, approved in March, the labor council points out there's no project labor agreement stipulating union employment for the arena operations or the surrounding development, as there is for the arena construction project itself. There's also been relatively little detail about the mixed-use buildings that would house expected retail, office, housing and hotel rooms around the arena, the resolution states.

This is Part Three, explaining how unions may attempt to win control of the construction and permanent jobs at the ancillary development around the arena. Part One explained the background of how construction trade unions have already obtained a monopoly on the construction workforce for the arena itself. Part Two explained the union plot to monopolize the service jobs at the arena.

Factions in the Construction Industry: Trusting Pragmatism Versus Principled Cynicism

Leaders of the Sacramento regional construction industry were on the sidelines as the new ownership of the Sacramento Kings basketball team privately negotiated a Project Labor Agreement with trade unions for construction of the new downtown arena. Yet construction business associations such as Associated General Contractors (AGC) and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) still supported the city's plan for the arena.

There's been standing room only for Kings' games, but Thursday was the first standing room only crowd for those who want to get in the same of building a new throne for Sacramento's NBA team.

They're contractors – passionate about what they do.

"We're currently doing all the furniture for Levi stadium for the San Francisco 49ers," said Dwight Jackson of the Metro Contract Group.

Today (March 6, 2014), the City of Sacramento, the Sacramento Kings ownership, and construction manager Turner held a contractor outreach meeting to "start a conversation" with companies interested in potential work opportunities in building the new $447 million Entertainment and Sports Center in downtown Sacramento. More than 250 people registered for the event, and many attendees had to stand in the back of the room.

A substantial number of these companies were construction-related firms. I overheard several conversations in which contractors were discussing the requirement to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of work. People were unsure about what this union deal meant for their companies if they won a contract.

I suspected that the formal presentation at the contractor outreach meeting would evade references to the more reprehensible provisions of the Project Labor Agreement (aka "Community Workforce and Training Agreement"). I also expected that copies of the Project Labor Agreement would not be provided to attendees of the meeting. (Six months after the deal was announced by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson at a September 4, 2013 press conference, the public still does not have access to the union deal.) And in fact the outreach event did not provide copies of the Project Labor Agreement. During the question-and-answer period, I asked when the Project Labor Agreement would be available for the public to see. Attendees were told that it will be on a web site soon, perhaps in a few weeks.

Just a week ago, the city of Sacramento overcame a huge legal hurdle to its proposed subsidy for the new Kings arena at Downtown Plaza. Now officials are trying to navigate through another turbulent courtroom issue: control of the final piece of real estate needed to build the $448 million arena.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered the city and owners of the vacant Macy's men's store at Downtown Plaza to submit additional legal briefs on the question of whether the city's eminent domain lawsuit should be moved to another county. Judge Robert Hight said he's likely to rule Monday.

While the issue is procedural, both sides are taking it very seriously. The store owners want the case moved, perhaps to Alameda County, questioning whether they can get a fair trial in Sacramento. The city says moving the case could interfere with its timetable on the arena project. The city is scheduled to finalize a development agreement with the Kings in April and sell bonds a month later to finance its proposed $258 million subsidy.

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 15:23

The quiet Arena lawsuit moves forward

Last week a judge ruled against the lawsuit to place the proposed public subsidy for the new basketball arena before Sacramento voters.

Local media heralded the decision.

But there is another Sacramento arena lawsuit taking place in Sacramento Superior Court. I've attended the court proceedings. And I've written about it.

Part 1 of "How a Basketball Arena Would Expand the Unionized Workforce in Sacramento" described how unions obtained a monopoly on construction of the arena through a backroom deal for a Project Labor Agreement. Part 2 describes how unions are likely to win representation of the food and service workers at the new downtown Sacramento arena. Part 3 will outline how unions will likely target the ancillary development around the arena.

Will food and service employees at the new downtown Sacramento Entertainment and Sports Center have union representation? UNITE HERE claims to represent 25,000 concessions workers at 50 stadiums, serving over half of all major league sports teams, for employers such as Aramark, Levy, SMG, Centerplate and Ovations.

It is intent on making sure it does not lose the one major league professional sports team in Sacramento – the Kings of the National Basketball Association.

Delusions of grandeur drive the proponents of a downtown sports arena in Sacramento.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley ruled against two taxpayers groups in Sacramento, to place the proposed public subsidy for the new basketball arena before the city's voters. Judge Frawley said the taxpayer groups made such significant errors in the wording of their petitions, the petitions, and 23,000 signatures supporting the effort, are not valid.

This is how The Sacramento Bee, which has been openly advocating for the arena subsidy, reported it: "The lawsuit, meanwhile, was funded by an agribusinessman who lives just outside the city limits and a group of nonunion electrical contractors angry that the arena is going to be built almost exclusively with union labor."

A leader of one of the political campaigns that attempted to force a public vote on Sacramento's arena plan said this morning that the group will not appeal a judge's ruling that struck the measure from the ballot. But the other group said there's a small chance it would pursue an appeal.

Craig Powell of Voters for a Fair Arena Deal said the decision has been made not to appeal Judge Timothy Frawley's ruling Wednesday that signature petitions handed in by the group and Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) included too many errors for the petitions to be valid.

Powell said the decision was made after Frawley indicated in a hearing on Friday that the petitions had significant flaws.

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