Bad Wine: Sonoma County Approves PLA Requirement

0 January 30, 2014  State & Local Construction

After months of consideration, the Sonoma County California Board of Supervisors voted this week to approve a policy mandating the use of wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreements (PLAs) on county projects of $10 million or more.


The discussion about whether the county should require PLAs on its construction projects started in 2012, but Sonoma supervisors voted 3-2 in October 2012 to table an earlier pro-PLA proposal. Later, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, in April 2013, created an ad hoc committee to study the PLA issue. It was this committee that produced the pro-PLA proposal adopted by the supervisors on Jan. 28.

This new requirement is bad for taxpayers and the vast majority of the local construction industry. Approximately 83 percent of the private construction workforce in California chooses not to join a labor organization. While the proposal adopted this week includes some concessions to merit shop employers—like allowing contractors willing to sign a PLA to use some of their core employees without hiring them through union hiring halls and allowing contractors to pay into their nonunion workers’ existing pension and other employee benefit funds—the other onerous provisions in the PLA approved by the Sonoma Board of Supervisors make it highly unlikely merit shop contractors will even try to compete for this work.

The Sonoma County PLA requirement also reminds us that while county leaders in California have the ability to choose to require PLAs on their construction projects, local government leaders in the state can’t choose to ban these mandates without serious risks thanks to Big Labor’s allies in Sacramento.

Here at, we are saddened to see the expansion of wasteful and discriminatory PLA mandates on taxpayer-funded construction in California. Unfortunately, it is likely the construction unions’ huge investment in California state elections is a sign that Big Labor plans to continue pushing their anti-growth agenda in The Golden State.

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