On March 6, when Sacramento City Councilman Robert King Fong made the motion to the Sacramento City Council for approval of a new $391 million arena for the Sacramento Kings professional basketball team, he generally read the posted agenda item verbatim, but then tacked on an additional, obviously pre-prepared provision out of nowhere:
…and lastly, (uh) to direct staff to evaluate and consider options for a Project Labor Agreement and Community Benefit Agreement and discuss those options with the (uh) Entertainment Sports Complex development and operation partners for potential inclusion in the subsequent definitive agreements.
Associated Builders and Contractors of California suspects a violation of the state’s Ralph M. Brown Act (a 60-year old law making California governments accountable to the people when they do the public’s business) when the Sacramento City Council inserted this unannounced directive concerning a Project Labor Agreement (and for a Community Benefit Agreement) into the motion to approve the new Kings arena. (The full motion was approved 7-2, with the debate and votes primarily revolving around funding sources for the arena.)
Nothing about a Project Labor Agreement or a Community Benefit Agreement was included in the agenda or staff report. (See Item 16-Entertainment & Sports Complex (PDF-2279 KB) [Updated 3-1-12 @ 6:30 pm]). Interested members of the public were NOT informed through public notice that the subject matter would include a direction to staff to evaluate requiring contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions to build the arena, or to require all parties to sign a Community Benefit Agreement.
The city manager and the assistant city manager did not mention a Project Labor Agreement or a Community Benefit Agreement in their opening presentations. They did not indicate having any meetings with labor unions during their public outreach.
While the Project Labor Agreement directive had long been expected, the Community Benefit Agreement was an interesting addition, opening numerous opportunities for mischief from local activist organizations. The Sacramento Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO would presumably want a Community Benefit Agreement to include a “displaced workers” provision requiring the arena developers to retain the employees (such as concession and parking employees) from the current arena. The agreement would likely include “union neutrality agreements” that allow unions to campaign to organize arena employees without allowing the employers to argue against it. It could also include all sorts of costly provisions not even publicly discussed to date. Examples could include (1) a requirement to use steel manufactured in the United States; (2) a requirement not to use contractors that engage in certain business activities or do business with certain corporations or countries; (3) bird-friendly non-reflective windows; (4) large one-time payments to specific community organizations and/or programs; (5) restrictions on building materials; (6) solar panels, waterless urinals, and other energy and water requirements.
Oblique remarks from a few city council members during their statements betrayed their knowledge that this provision was going to be added.
What special interest group provided this provision to add to the final motion? Well, since the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California is now bragging that the Sacramento City Council approved a PLA for the new Kings Arena (see SBCTC – City Council Endorses PLA for Sacramento Arena Project) and provides the exact wording of the motion in its victory announcement, one can guess that the Sacramento-Sierra Building and Construction Trades Council was behind it, probably in coordination with the Sacramento Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
In its notice about the motion, the State Building and Construction Trades Council mocks Associated Builders and Contractors for failing to qualify a ballot measure in the City of Sacramento that would have prohibited a Project Labor Agreement requirement on city contracts, including the new Kings arena. The notice describes the vote as “a stinging defeat for ABC, which tried to avert this outcome…”