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Big Labor Takes Over Oakland Army Base

Oakland City Council to decide Project Labor Agreements for new port infrastructure.

The Oakland Army Base was constructed in 1941 and began performing its primary military mission as a transportation port and distribution terminal for the Department of the Army in the early 1940s. Mission support activities included maintaining facilities and equipment, performing industrial processes, repairing and upgrading equipment, preparing vehicles and equipment for overseas shipment, storing fuels and managing wastes, performing cleaning operations, and supporting seagoing vessels, rail, and land transportation fleet service vehicles.

Today, the mission will be much different if the Oakland City Council gets its way Tuesday at the Council Meeting and approves a Project Labor Agreement that will govern who can work on the $270M New Port Infrastructure that will include Intermodal Rail Terminal and Roadways.

With Big Labor as the winner, the 50% local hiring goals will not be met.  A Project Labor Agreement is a union creation written by and for Big Labor special interests that comprise less that 15 percent of the construction workforce locally and nationally. It mandates that workers who choose not to belong to a union pay union dues, pay into union pension plans and be hired through a union hiring hall. It also excludes union-free apprentices from apprenticeship programs like those run locally by the Associated Builders and Contractors from working on local projects in their hometown.

What is rarely mentioned in all of the public policy discussions, media coverage and debates about PLAs are the moral implications of using the government as an agent to force contractors and their employees into union agreements.

Is it right for a government to require contractors to make employee fringe benefit payments to union-managed trust funds and obtain their workers from a union hiring hall? What kind of thinking leads a representative of the people to require workers to pay initiation fees and dues to a union as a condition of working on a public project paid for with those workers' own tax dollars? What kind of community leader wants to build four taxpayer-funded schools for the cost of five, in order to curry favor with a special interest group?

Not to mention that PLAs inflate the cost of construction significantly and cost taxpayers more money on public projects. Extensive research on school construction in California from 1996 through 2008, along with a study released in July 2011 by National University in San Diego shows that Project Labor Agreements cut bid competition, resulting in project cost increases that are 13 percent to 15 percent higher.

Listen to the pleas of local contractors and the community telling Oakland City Councilmembers that the Project Labor Agreement will force local businessmen to set aside their qualified local workforce in order to hire union workers diminishing any chance for local residents to work in their own community. Listen to the truth about Project Labor Agreements here. Go to 1 hour and 47 minutes into the meeting.  Is this what America is supposed to be about?  Shame on Oakland.  The Oakland City Council will meet Tuesday, October 30 at 5:30pm.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Fred Eiger October 31, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Bravo Sue! The Army Base will NEVER be completed. It will be a money pit of tax dollars wasted. The lazy will have carte blanche to milk this system dry. I'll be dead, gone and worm food before this project is ever completed.
David October 31, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Doesn't matter who works on it. The Port of Oakland is going to get crushed in 2014 with the widening of the Panama Canal; Asian cargo will bypass it and go directly to the ports of Houston, New Orleans, Galveston and New York/Jersey.
Jen Brood November 01, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Another good reason to vote YES on 32!
Fred Eiger November 01, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Exactly. The Unions have stifled the West Coast ports for decades due to their greed and ignorance. And they're always the first one complaining about "jobs".
Avrage Guy November 06, 2012 at 06:00 PM
So What did the Oakland Council decide on this issue?

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