Sacramento Newspaper Explains Project Labor Agreements as Signature Collection Continues for Fair and Open Competition Ballot Measures

0 August 19, 2011  State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

The Sacramento News & Review, a long-established independent alternative weekly newspaper, has just published a well-written article explaining perspectives on project labor agreements (PLAs) and the proposed Fair and Open Competition ballot measures for the City of Sacramento and County of Sacramento.

It includes comments from two local elected officials, a local contractor, and Kevin Dayton, a blogger and the State Government Affairs Director of Associated Builders and Contractors of California. 

The article includes yet another illustration to be added to the collection at the California Museum of Project Labor Agreement Artwork, soon to open in a small gallery in Berkeley. 

Illustration by Jason Crosby, courtesy of The Sacramento News & Review

Check out “Pay to PLA: Local ballot measures aim to curb union power on public projects,” – Sacramento News & Review – August 18, 2011.

Here are some key passages from the piece:

Nothing in a PLA requires a contract to go to a union company. And the pay for workers is already governed by “prevailing wage” rules which guarantee that union and nonunion workers alike are treated equally when the government is footing the bill for a construction project.

But PLAs typically do require that contractors hire from the local union hiring hall, and also that the contractors pay into a benefits trust fund, usually operated by the local labor council. PLAs often include “local hiring” provisions and requirements for apprenticeship opportunities, too.

That hiring hall provision may be no problem for general contractors who don’t keep a lot of workers on the payroll.

But a PLA may mean that a contractor can only bring a few of their own workers to the job, and will have to pick the rest from the union hall. And, for companies that already provide health insurance, the benefits requirement can be onerous as well.

“A typical PLA eliminates our ability to use our own workforce. And we end up having to pay double benefits,” said Greg Anderson, with Rex Moore Electrical Contractors and Engineers, a nonunion contractor. His firm is well-known in the region, but it won’t bid on projects that include PLAs. He says his company can’t compete.

Of course, any PLA can be negotiated to include or not include any specific provisions. “But the building trades are not interested in PLAs that don’t include these requirements,” said Anderson.

Anderson says Rex Moore will likely help fund the anti-PLA ballot measures. ABC and Dayton have been warring with the unions for years. He says unions use campaign donations and threats of lawsuits to make local government officials accept PLAs.

“That’s because it’s much easier to go to the government and force the contractors to sign a project labor agreement than it is to go workers and convince them to join the union.”

Readers can learn more about the Fair and Open Competition ballot measures for the City of Sacramento and County of Sacramento at the campaign web site at

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