Message from the Secretary-Treasurer, July 2013

Trades Finalizing Three Groundbreaking Agreements

June – July 2013

This month our Building Trades is in the process of gathering signatures on three Project Labor Agreements that represent over $1 billion of work for our members. They are the Project Labor agreement for the Oakland Army Base – Public Improvements, the Project Stabilization/Community Benefits Agreement for the County of Alameda, and the Project Stabilization Agreement for the Ohlone Community College District. While the language in these agreements follows our standard approach, which always includes a strong workforce development section, they are all pioneer agreements that are increasing our ability to negotiate future agreements in the County. These agreements are a result of a coordinated effort of all affiliates, and they represent countless hours of work from the Building Trades and Affiliate Reps that laid the political groundwork to make these agreements possible.

The Project Labor agreement for the Oakland Army Base – Public Improvements would be the first agreement that the Trades have signed directly with the City of Oakland. Although we have always had a positive relationship with the City, especially in providing input into their Local Construction Referral Program, we have never established a PLA for work that is directly contracted with the City—although we have had agreements with Contractors on Redevelopment-funded projects. Given the political complexities of the City’s many stakeholders, our message of good union jobs in construction has always played second fiddle to the City’s interest in local contracting and hiring. However, with the support of a strong community coalition spearheaded by the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, we were able to bridge the two issues with the adoption of both a jobs policy and a PLA. I believe that with the success of this agreement, together with the alliances that we have forged with community groups in Oakland, we will lay the groundwork for a citywide agreement that will cover all projects financed by the City of Oakland.

The recently approved County Of Alameda Project Stabilization/Community Benefits Agreement is also a landmark agreement in that it will cover all County projects over $1 million and that it is the first agreement in the area sets up a workforce development system that targets disadvantaged residents identified by the County for pathways into apprenticeship. It is the first agreement that truly holds all stakeholders (County, Labor, community, and contractors) accountable to meet the objectives of the program. This agreement will not only serve as a blueprint for many other public agencies that will consider approving a Project Labor Agreement/Community Workforce Agreement, but will also provide those agencies with the resources (through the County) to target and assist their disadvantaged residents to find meaningful employment.

Finally, the Ohlone College PSA is our first Agency Agreement for the Fremont Area. While we have enjoyed increasing positive relationships with our partners in that part of the County we still did not have an agreement with any agency. This agreement will show many of the other surrounding communities in South County the benefits of PLAs and will hopefully lead to agreements with the Fremont and Newark School Districts, the City of Fremont and numerous private agreements in that area. In fact, it is our belief that these three agreements will demonstrate that PLA’s are not only good for labor, but a true win for all stakeholders involved, including the agencies, community, and the responsible contractors that bid the work. Our current agreements that we are working on (Oakland Housing Authority, East Bay Municipal Utilities District, AC Transit, and Oakland Unified School District) will also continue to show our partners the benefits of partnering with labor.