The Long Beach, Calif., City Council unanimously approved a project labor agreement that guarantees prevailing wages on all projects over $500,000 for the next five years. Three weeks after the citywide agreement on April 7, the independent Long Beach Harbor Department also ratified a $700 million PLA.
The citywide PLA with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council was the result of months of negotiations and years of political action by Los Angeles Local 11. Nearly 400 members of Local 11 were at the Long Beach City Council chambers the night of the vote, so many that that an overflow room had to be opened.
|The unanimous approval of the citywide PLA by the Long Beach City Council means thousands of good jobs for the local trades and was a direct result of intense political action by Los Angeles Local 11.
“This will affect hundreds of our members,” said Los Angeles, Local 11 Business Manager Marvin Kropke. “We have over $100 billion of work done under PLAs in Los Angeles County in the last 10 years and we have always been on time and on budget. That is a remarkable record of success, and Long Beach elected officials understand it is built on PLAs.”
Long Beach is the second largest city in Los Angeles County and the seventh largest city in the state. It is home to one of the world’s largest ports and harbors large aerospace and petroleum industries. The PLA does not cover the multi-billion dollar improvements at the port, but negotiations continue with the multi-jurisdiction Port Authority, and Kropke said they are on schedule and going well.
Project labor agreements are compacts between project owners and workers ensuring the payment of prevailing wages and the creation of grievance procedures in exchange for no-strike and no-lockout agreements from unions and contractors.
PLAs are most commonly signed for specific, usually large, construction projects, but Long Beach follows Los Angeles and Berkeley signing an agreement that covers all municipal projects. Like those agreements, the Long Beach PLA has local, veteran and disadvantaged resident hiring requirements.
The ultimate value of the projects covered by the PLA is unknown, but will easily rise into hundreds of millions, said Local 11 Assistant Business Manager Kevin Norton. Long Beach has control over services that are regularly ceded to the county or state by many California municipalities. The PLA covers city offices and housing, transportation and sanitation, but also the large gas and oil department, which manages the distribution of natural gas within the city as well as a substantial crude oil extraction infrastructure.
The target for local hires is 40 percent. Norton said the same target was used in the Los Angeles PLA and the trades council nearly doubled that, with 74 percent of all hours going to Los Angeles residents.
Local 11 should also have a head start on the veterans target because of its veteran recruitment campaign. Last year, Local 11 unveiled a plan to recruit new apprenticeship classes including at least 50 percent former military veterans. And the local has been working with pre-apprenticeship programs at nearby community colleges to create a pipeline of qualified disadvantaged applicants.
”Elected officials realize that we are the home team,” Norton said. “We do right by the community and have an unassailable record of delivering value for our customers.”
Local 11 produced a film about the historic agreement that can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptIQjSgn2Aw&feature=youtu.be.