San Gabriel School Board approves project labor agreement

San Gabriel's school board approved a project labor agreement, that stipulates that half of a projects labor be at least half union, for larger projects.

Some of the board were unfamiliar with PLAs, which are uncommon in the SGV, where there aren't as many active union members as in cities like Long Beach or Los Angeles. (This is due largely to the failure of unions to recruit immigrant Latinos and Asians.)

The Pasadena Star News put a pretty anti-union spin on it, but, the facts are correct. A pro-union spin is presented by Gary Hytrek discussing PLAs in Long Beach.

The irony of this conservative paper going against construction unions is that construction unions are some of the most conservative, anti-immigrant organizations within the labor sphere. They're tendency to vote Repubican is exceeded only by police and firefighters unions.

The "pro-union spin" version

The "pro-union spin" version is no longer available on-line.


LOL. It's a conspiracy.

The argument is that PLAs tend to help the local economy. In LBC, that's very true, because it's such a heavily unionized city compared to San Gabriel.

He also cites a study that says PLAs don't increase costs. (I think it's a university study.)

That's most of what I recall. My take in it is this:

Trade associations just hate PLAs, because it gives an edge to union labor in getting contracts.

The local benefits of PLAs are pretty basic. The wages go to local hires, so a lot of money gets spent locally. Unions have their own internal regulations that give work to local members before out-of-town laborers get jobs.

Contractors without unions have different hiring standards. The worst ones hire undocumented guys off the street - and this isn't uncommon. Others hire qualified people from out-of-town, where they earn less. They'll bring people out from places with lower wages.

The new generation of PLAs in LA are slightly different, because they're more politically sustainable -- they stipulate that the unions, who have been pretty lousy at diversity in the past, start recruiting underrepresented minorities (mainly African Americans, but, also Asians). They aren't really getting Asians, but African American apprenticeships are up.

(In NYC, there were a lot of Chinese construction workers, and they formed their own union. Then, they fought to get into the construction unions. They literally had to threaten to get into a riot, to be included.)

It would be good if these unions would try to recruit local Asians. There are Vietnamese and Chinese people doing construction, and I doubt if they're organized. Judging from some flyers out there, they're in competition with local one-man handyman operations.

Then, a PLA in San Gabriel would mean potential jobs for local Asian construction workers, and at very good wages.

As it is, a PLA would likely to benefit mostly Latinos and Whites locally. Not a bad thing, but not equitable. It would be better than, say, hiring Asians and Latinos locally at low wages and with less safety protections.

When Rosemead did those road repairs with fed money back when they were trying to spiff up the city and get people to support Wal-Mart, they hired a contractor from Orange County. How much of that money went to hire people in Rosemead, and at the CA prevailing wage?