THIS STORY WAS FIRST POSTED JULY 25 2019
Do you know what a PLA is? Should you care? You should not care unless you have kids in the Vista Unified School System, you are a taxpayer, you are a homeowner, you run a local business, you are one of the 66% of voters who voted Yes for the school bond, or you are one of the 80% of local construction workers who could be shut out of local jobs on school projects who are not a member of a trade union.
A Project Labor Agreement (PLA), is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement with one or more labor organizations that mandates that all construction workers will be union members. Did the VUSD board indicate that they ‘did not intend to enter into a PLA agreement’ in their public declaration to get the support of the San Diego Taxpayers Association, non-union voters, or those voters who have a more conservative trend on taxes? If so, what overriding new evidence causes them to now shift from that position?
If the school board approves a PLA agreement, all non-union construction work force in San Diego County would not qualify to bid on projects, unless they pay the 15-20% higher wages, benefits, union dues, and many other mandates, above their usual and normal rates. The additional union dues paid will go for benefits that the non-union workers will never see as they will go back to their normal status after the project is complete.
At issue, is the expected list of projects defined (committed) to voters, with costs based on state estimates, and whether the district will run out of money and then fail to complete some important projects, if they sign a PLA. There are over 100 projects, with a voter approved bond amount of $243 million, impacting every school.
Could the bottom priority 15 projects or $48 million be chopped off to fund the PLA?
Which of the projects you voted for will not be completed if a PLA is signed by the school board? Why is the school board even considering a PLA now? Shouldn’t all bidders have the opportunity to start the Request For Proposal (RFP) and show they have the experience and expertise to complete the project on which they wish to be considered? If qualified, they would then go through the standard VUSD bidding process, with a level playing field, whether union or non-union employees? Would we eliminate over 80% of the potential local qualified bidders and local employees, by implementing a PLA? What projects will not be accomplished that enticed the votes to approve the bond, that would impact their local school or a priority project for them? Go to the VUSD website to see the priority list and start at the bottom while working up as money begins running out, to project what could be chopped off.
Great schools are one of the main driving forces for home-buyers, attracting new businesses, and providing community pride, including their appearance. The voters agreed and approved the bond. We should stick with the plan the voters approved.
Can all local hiring priorities be built into a contract without a PLA? What about financial performance penalties? What about the projects quality outcomes? What about timing penalities? Can our expectations be negotiated into every agreement? We have been told that all of these and much more could be negotiated with all qualified contractors. Have the two posted community meetings on the PLA issue developed a clear consensus for participants?
I have heard no clear reason from those attending to reverse course from what voters understood. Please attend the VUSD BOD meeting when this will be decided and speak up.NEXT REGULAR BOARD MEETING – THURSDAY, August 15, 2019 AT 6:00 PM CITY OF VISTA, CIVIC CENTER, 200 CIVIC CENTER DRIVE, VISTA, CA 92084
Has the school board made the budget cuts necessary to get the best bond rating? What are the reasons to even consider PLA?
How much money from a PLA would go to the union to support future pro-union school board candidates election or re-election? Does this become a quid pro quo? Will the five present VUSD board members, who are all former or present teachers and union members, vote for a pro-union PLA, regardless of the impact on completing the entire list of projects that voters and tax payers approved? Will the below cycle rule the day?