Complaints About PLAs, MTC and Keller Grants

I’m not an Occupy Wall Street protestor but I do have some complaints I’d like to express.

First is the decision by the Contra Costa Community College District on a vote of 4-1 vote (John Nejedly opposed) to approve a “project labor agreement” for the $286 million Measure A bond approved by voters in June 2006. PLAs are discriminatory and anti-competitive and increase project costs by 12-18% because bidders must agree to abide by union work rules, pay union wages and contribute to union health and retirement funds, whether or not the employees they hire belong to a union.

The Concord Council is also considering mandating PLA agreements for development of Concord Naval Weapons Station land, and Governor Jerry Brown just signed legislation to “prohibit” measures passed by local governments that ban government-mandated PLAs. Antioch built its new community center/library without a PLA, enabling the project to come in consideraby below the anticipated cost of the project.

Politicians know that labor unions can get out the vote and contribute to election coffers. But what they might not realize is that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 the union membership rate was 11.9% – down from 12.3% a year earlier. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, union membership was 20.1%. Of note is the fact that in 2010 union membership for public sector workers was substantially higher than the rate for private sector workers (6.9%).

Secondly, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission continues to allege that it has outgrown its Oakland space and is still pursuing the purchase of a building in San Francisco, which its advisers say has a value of about $96 million. A state audit to determine whether it’s legal to use bridge toll money to do so is not yet completed.

Regrettably, MTC now has at least one ally. The Bay Area Toll Authority, which would share the building, voted 8-6 to approve the move. However, the Association of Bay Area Governments, also expected to share the building, voted not to join the move. Good for them.

Interesting to note is that the building MTC wishes to purchase sold for $60 million in 2010, meaning it has appreciated by more than 30% in one year. Since we all know our homes have depreciated the past few years and commercial buildings stand vacant, something seems more than a little off to me. Maybe it’s the appraiser.

Speaking of decisions that don’t add up, Supervisor Federal Glover, who was chastised by outgoing county Auditor Steve Ybarra for overspending Keller Canyon Mitigation Fund monies, creating a deficit which has to be repaid and for distributing grants outside the areas impacted by the landfill, is still administering the fund.

Due to the deficit, grants have been cut to $766,796 this year vs. $1.37 million last year. So what does Glover do? He decides to use $132,604 from the fund to hire an employee in his office to “deal with Bay Point issues.” This is outrageous. According to, the cost of an auditor in Martinez is $84,000, 18% higher than average auditor salaries for job postings nationwide.

3 Comments to “Complaints About PLAs, MTC and Keller Grants”

  1. Dee Dee says:

    1. Project Labor Agreements are union-only agreements between the contracting agency (CCCCD) and the Construction Trade Unions that require all labor on the project must be a member of the construction union. Only about 15% of the construction workers in Contra Costa County are members of unions. You do the math. Is it right for our elected officials (CCCCD Directors) to execute agreements for commerce of the District that restrict the work to 15% of the workers available in exchange for campaign contributions that will take them to higher offices? Board member Tomi Van de Brooke, V.P. of that board has lead the charge on quickly passing this onerous agreement with BIG LABOR. Is it a coincidence that in August, Tomi announced her plans to run for County Supervisor in Contra Costa County against Gayle Uilkema, around the same time that it became such an urgent matter for this Board to pass a PLA? We are likely to see some large campaign dollars come from BIG LABOR in the funding of Tomi’s campaign. Labor funds Tomi for higher office, and in exchange they get all construction work at the CCCCD restricted so that their 15% of workers have jobs. Stay tuned folks!

  2. Dee Dee says:

    It was also learned at the CCCCD meeting last night that CCCCD Board Members Mr. Marquez and Mr. Calone also have union ties. Mr. Marquez is a former agent for one of the unions, and Mr. Calone is the current Recording Secretary for the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union. Combined with Ms. Vande Brooke, that makes three of the five votes bought and paid for by the unions. So now ask the question, why did the board REALLY vote to put a Project Labor Agreement in place?

  3. Dee Dee says:

    Now moving on to the City of Concord. Ms Hoffmiester received large campaign contributions in her quest for the Council seat in Concord. Mr. Shinn has an employment history with one of the trade unions. That meeting ended with the Mayor asking staff to do more research on the PLA issue and come back to the council with “more data and studies”. So they kicked the can down the road further and refused to accept their own staff report that recommends that they do not implement a PLA at this time.

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