Calif. Officials to Spend $1.6 Million to Administer Project Labor Agreement Scheme

0 June 28, 2010  State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

Big Labor continues to pick the pockets of taxpayers and students of California’s Riverside Community College (RCC) District. 

Last week the RCC District Trustees approved spending $1.6 million for staff and consultants to oversee the RCC District’s anti-competitive and costly project labor agreement (PLA) scheme that will govern about $350 million worth of future RCC District construction. have objected to the absurdity and corruption of PLAs on RCC District projects before, but RCC District trustees beholden to Big Labor’s special interest agenda have taken waste and corruption to a new level with this latest blunder.

Big Labor and RCC District trustees misled the public and falsely-claimed that a PLA would reduce costs and keep projects on budget, despite evidence that PLAs deny jobs to 82.4 percent of the Calif. construction workforce (construction employees who choose not to belong to a union) and increase the cost of construction between 12 percent and 18 percent. By a 3-2 vote, RCC District trustees approved a PLA requirement on all RCC District construction projects over $1 million that use funds from the 2004 voter-approved $350 million Measure C.

Now trustees are flushing more money down the toilet to administer the corrupt backroom PLA deal that will funnel construction contracts to unionized political patrons.

Residents are not happy and The Riverside Press-Enterprise printed an editorial slamming the government-mandated PLA and Riverside Community College District Trustees’ reckless spending to implement anti-competitive and costly crony contracting (“RCC Slams Taxpayers,” 6/23):

Riverside Community College District offers a prime illustration of why public agencies should avoid union-driven labor pacts governing new construction: Taxpayers will pay more than a million dollars just to oversee an unnecessary agreement propelled by politics. And that figure does not include any higher project costs that derive from the deal’s restraint of price-cutting competition.

District trustees last week hired a consulting firm to oversee the “project labor agreement” the board approved in March. The consulting firm’s employees will charge hourly rates of up to $238.71 (equivalent to an annual salary of nearly $500,000), with total compensation as high as $1.6 million, to make sure that the district’s construction projects follow provisions of the labor agreement.

The labor pact essentially requires all contractors to pay union fees and benefits, which are usually the highest around. Those provisions erase any competitive advantage held by nonunion builders — the bulk of the state’s construction work force. So the agreement slashes the amount of money available for new buildings and renovations at district campuses, while simultaneously driving up construction costs.

Trustees have never managed to explain the public benefit of making taxpayers’ $350 million investment in college improvements buy less. A majority of trustees just ignored those added costs, showing more interest in currying favor with union supporters than in responsible oversight of public funds.

Such narrow, self-interested politics directly contradict elected officials’ duty to ensure careful use of public money. The real price of the project labor agreement is only now emerging. But the already visible effects give other public agencies no excuse for missing the clear lesson of the college district’s folly. agrees.

Check out the mailer sent to Riverside taxpayers following the vote by RCCD Trustees to mandate a PLA on future RCCD construction. 

Will Riverside taxpayers hold them accountable?

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