Following The New York Times piece exposing greenmail — a union tactic to hijack green construction and implement wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreements on energy related projects in California (“Labor Sees Green in Solar Plants in California: A Move to Put the Union Label on Solar Power Plants,” 6/19) – FOX News Channel’s Neil Cavuto did a segment on greenmail on his 6/19 show.
ABC California Government Affairs Director and www.TheTruthAboutPLAs.com contributor Kevin Dayton was featured in this segment:
On to the New York Times article.
The idea that unions are using California’s environmental permitting process as a way to pressure owners to hire union contractors and union labor exclusively should give everyone pause. Environmental regulations exist to ensure development is done responsibly and should not be abused by unions. It is also important to note that greenmail doesn’t only occur on green projects, but has been occuring on private projects of all shapes and sizes for years.
The focus of this New York Times article is “green” projects – like solar plants. It quotes representatives from several environmental advocacy and interest groups. Many of those quoted seem to understand that the unions are gaming the system and they don’t seem to mind. Here is an example:
Carl Zichella, the Sierra Club’s director of western renewable programs, said California Unions for Reliable Energy had been effective at extracting concessions that aid the environment.
“It’s not a warm fuzzy thing they are doing; it’s a very self-interested thing they’re doing.”
Mr. Zichella misses a very important point. Kevin Dayton is quoted as mentioning that union-only PLAs increase construction costs by approximately 20 percent:
“These environmental challenges are the unions’ major tactic to maintain their share of industrial construction — we call it greenmail,” said Kevin Dayton, state government affairs director for the Associated Builders and Contractors of California. “The future of solar energy is jeopardized by these unions holding up construction.”
In California, project labor agreements can raise costs on a project by about 20 percent, Mr. Dayton estimated.
The cost increases that result from limiting competition and inefficient union practices will inevitably lead to LESS green construction. This means fewer wind turbines, solar power plants and other sustainable energy resources will be built in this country. This fact is unavoidable. It is basic economics. Efforts to limit green construction to union-only labor should run counter to the mission of each of the environmental groups quoted in the article, many of which don’t seem to know or care that union-only construction will reduce the amount of environmentally-sustainable construction in California and throughout America.
Is it possible that some enviornmental groups have chosen political bedfellows over their core mission? We hope not.