The seven-month battle at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors over requiring contractors to sign the county’s first government-mandated project labor agreement (renamed on the May 24 agenda as a “Community Workforce Agreement”) came to an end today (May 24, 2011) with a regrettable result for county taxpayers, as well as businesses and their employees not affiliated with a labor union.
After a long series of public comments from supporters and opponents of the project labor agreement, including many questionable “statistics” cited by union representatives, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas pushed for and won a 3-2 vote (the three Democrats in support; the two Republicans in opposition) to require contractors to sign a project labor agreement with the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council for the Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center Project, a part of the larger Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center Replacement Project.
The county-approved. taxpayer-funded budget for the construction of this project is $95 million. The county will issue an addendum adding the government-mandated project labor agreement to the bid specifications provided to the three prequalified design-build companies (Clark Construction, Hensel Phelps Construction Company, and McCarthy Building Companies).
Supervisor Don Knabe expressed concerns about the cost of administering the project labor agreement and the negative impact of the agreement on small, minority, and women-owned businesses. Knabe noted that although the agreement had been renamed, it was still a project labor agreement. Supervisor Mike Antonovich asserted that the county staff did not fulfill conditions agreed to by the board in December 2010 when the board approved negotiations with the unions. Only Supervisor Ridley-Thomas spoke in support of the union agreement.
The staff report for the agenda item repeated its report from November that “the steps to implement the CWA could increase project costs due to the cost of negotiating the CWA ($95,000), construction delays ($300,000), and management of the CWA over the two-year duration of construction ($400,000).” The project was supposed to be awarded to the design-build firm by March 29, 2011.
This is the first project labor agreement approved for taxpayer-funded construction in the nation’s most populous county.
Please email a note of thanks to the two county supervisors who wisely voted against the project labor agreement:
Supervisor Don Knabe: Don@lacbos.org
Supervisor Mike Antonovich: email@example.com