On Thursday, June 9, a group of local contractors, construction workers, business associations, and taxpayer advocates held a press conference announcing the launch of an audacious campaign to win voter approval of two ballot measures that would ensure fair and open competition for taxpayer-funded construction contracts in the City of Sacramento and in the County of Sacramento. More than 100 people attended the press conference in support of the local ballot initiatives.
A committee has been planning since June 2010 to give voters in Sacramento an opportunity to guarantee fair and open competition on taxpayer-funded construction projects. The campaign intends to raise $1.5 million in voluntary contributions to encourage Sacramento voters to end the unfair and costly project labor agreement racket and encourage economic growth and job creation in the Sacramento region.
Since the mid-1990s, Sacramento construction union officials have cut bid competition and increased project costs by pressuring Sacramento local governments and developers to require contractors to sign project labor agreements. Conditions in these 30-60 page agreements force contractors to get workers from unions and pay employee benefits into union trust funds instead of company benefit plans. Workers must pay union dues and initiation fees.
The Sacramento union strategy to extract project labor agreements from local governments is tied to their local election campaign programs. It also includes hiring a lawyer to block privately-owned projects with legal action authorized under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) until project owners surrender to the extortion (a practice called “greenmail”).
Among the organizations seeking fair and open competition (and represented at the June 9 press conference) are the Golden Gate Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, the Western Electrical Contractors Association, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of California, the Sacramento County Taxpayers League, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
See the campaign web site, also launched on June 9, at www.FairandOpenCompetitionSacramento.com.
The campaign is the start of the “Summer of Fair and Open Competition” in Northern California.