Massively overpriced labor agreements are harming job creation in Contra Costa County. These agreements, which are called Project Labor Agreements (PLA), require union labor on certain construction projects. Measure C, which voters in the Mount Diablo school district passed on June 8, sets aside money to construct facilities for the district’s schools. The district’s school board is considering using a PLA for all construction.
At a time when unemployment in California is 12.6 percent, the highest state unemployment rate since 1940, there must be no excessive costs that reduce opportunities for Californians to find work.
PLA’s can increase construction costs by 25 to 50 percent. In New York State, for example, bricklayers covered by PLA’s earn $50 per hour. The market rate for such work is $25 per hour.
In a precedent-setting example, Chula Vista, California, a San Diego suburb, voted this month to ban PLA’s. The vote was 56 percent to 43 percent in favor of the ban. Interestingly, Chula Vista in 2008 gave 61 percent of its votes to Barack Obama for president.
Earlier this month, another San Diego-area town, Oceanside, banned PLA’s. The ban passed with a 54 percent majority.
Cities and school districts in Contra Costa County should follow the excellent examples of Chula Vista and Oceanside. PLA’s will do nothing to maximize the number of jobs that Contra Costa County needs.
Sadly, some local elected officials such as Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), a former mayor of Concord, a current member of the county Board of Supervisors, and a candidate for the State Assembly support PLA’s. Gary Eberhart of the Mount Diablo school district is also a supporter. These elected officials should oppose PLA’s.
Putting as many people to work as possible is more important than surrendering to the demands of special interest groups like labor unions.
~ Colman is president of Biomed Inc. in Concord.