North Bay Business Journal

Friday, October 5, 2012, 1:00 pm

Supervisors stick up for the 85 percent

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    Business Journal EditorialCongratulations to a majority of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors — Valerie Brown, David Rabbitt and Efren Carrillo — for sticking up for the 85 percent.

    That would be the 85 percent of the county’s construction workers who choose not to belong to a union but who would have been subject to union work rules if the board had approved a policy Sept. 18 requiring project labor agreements on large projects over $25 million.

    Their 3-2 vote to send the policy proposal back for negotiations took significant political courage since unions have become the mother’s milk of campaign finance. But the three supervisors saw the proposal for what it was: A handout to unions and bad policy that would lock the county into potentially expensive contracts on projects that haven’t even been conceived.

    “Convince me what I’m getting for the additional cost,” said Supervisor Rabbitt. “Or convince me there is no additional cost. No one has convinced me of anything.” 

    The prize unions thought they might get had a majority of the supervisors backed the PLA proposal was the $54 million airport expansion now on hold for environmental studies.

    It remains a possibility that a PLA could be approved for that project. But supervisors should only approve such an agreement if specific and reasonable conditions are met, such as no increase in project cost and not forcing non-union workers to double-pay for union pension and health benefits.

    On those conditions, supervisors should be unwavering.


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    1. October 5, 2012, 7:16 pm

      by Tyler Franklin

      The PLA’s are just another way to cost the Government and it’s Taxpayers Millions more for Projects that Non-Union workers can complete for the same quality and most likely in less time. As a local Construction Project Manager, they’d be excluding the Majority from these projects and the 15% and out of towners would be getting the business. How would this be good for Sonoma County.

    2. October 9, 2012, 12:56 pm

      by Chris Knerr

      I respectfully disagree with Mr. Franklin. No where does it state that non union companies will be excluded from bidding on PLA jobs. Also, look around, you will see many Non Union out of town trucks working locally. A PLA is a pre hire agreement typically negotiated between a project owner, general contractor, and usually an area State Building and Construction Trades Council. It is in place for the puposes of advancing the economical and efficient completion of the project. A lot of projects with PLA’s are built with a savings. Look no further than the College of Marin. I say this would be good for Sonoma County projects over 25 million.

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