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ABCUSD Rejects Unions, Excludes Project Labor Agreement in Bond Resolution

BY BRIAN HEWS
Tuesday July 17, 2018, 1:35 p.m.

Hews Media Group-Community News has learned that the ABC Unified School District Board, led by President Soo Yoo, and a district that boasts large unions such as the ABCFT, AFCSME, and CSEA, does not plan to use a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for its bond-funded infrastructure improvements.

The exclusion is contained in the Bond Resolution that will be considered at tonight’s School Board meeting which states, “subject to fiscal requirements of the District, as directed by the Board, the Board hereby finds and directs as follows…. that the Board does not plan to build and maintain its bond-funded capital facilities under a Project Labor Agreement (PLA).”

According to sources close to the situation, there could be a backlash at the meeting from certain Board members; labor representatives are also “coming out in force.”

A PLA is when the government awards contracts for public construction projects exclusively to unionized firms.

The PLA requires all contractors, whether they are unionized or not, to subject themselves and their employees to unionization in order to work on a government-funded construction project.

It is essentially a comprehensive pre-hire collective bargaining agreement. The basic terms and conditions for labor are established in advance for all organizations involved in the project.

A typical PLA includes no-strike, no lock-out agreements, and also includes procedures for quickly settling any problems or disputes that might arise during the project.

Critics always point to their anti-competitive nature, but PLA’s never restrict bidding solely to union contractors, projects are available to any contractor who will accept the terms of the PLA.

According to one source, the local teacher’s union, the ABCFT, had expressed ambivalence about the PLA issue.

HMG-CN contacted Ray Gaer, President of the  ABC Federation of Teachers Local #2317 who said, “thanks for your email clarification. ABCFT is not against any PLA so I appreciate your checking with me.

Word of the exclusion quickly spread around the district, finally making its way to Sacramento.

Just yesterday the district received a letter from Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon addressed to ABC President Soo Yoo urging the Board to consider the inclusion of a PLA.

Calderon wrote, “I respectfully request that the Board of Education consider the inclusion of Project Labor Agreements (PLA) in this important resolution. PLAs often ensure a preference for local hiring, veterans, and prevailing wages that bolster the local economy and keep economic benefits close to home.”

Just recently Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn insisted that a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) be included in plans to develop the south-side of the Rancho Los Amigos Campus in Downey.  Hahn has long advocated for PLAs as a means of investing in good jobs and guaranteeing fair treatment of workers.

“Not only do Project Labor Agreements help keep projects on schedule and on budget, they are a tool that helps us to protect workers and create a pipeline of good paying jobs,” said Supervisor Hahn.

“The Building Trades has had a long and fruitful partnership with the County and we are very proud to partner with Supervisor Hahn on the Rancho Los Amigos South Campus Project to put local people to work including veterans and the disadvantaged workforce that live in the County,” said LA/OC Building Trades Executive Secretary Ron Miller.

“Let’s not just think about building projects,” said Alex LaFarga of LiUNA, “let’s think about building careers.  That is what these PLAs do — they provide us with opportunities to build careers.”

When questioned, ABC Board President Soo Yoo confirmed the exclusion telling HMG-CN, “It is already stated that the Board does not plan to build and maintain its bond-funded capital facilities under a Project Labor Agreement (PLA).”

Yoo then back-tracked when she stated, “the language in the Bond Resolution does not prohibit the District from awarding contracts to PLA contractors though. The Board will take action on this at the July 17 Board Meeting.”

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