By Tammye McDuff, Los Cerritos News
The Cerritos College Board of Trustees, at their December meeting, approved the Bond Construction Outreach Program funded by Measure G and Project Labor Agreement (PLA).
The vote was 6-1, with Trustee Lewis casting the lone no vote.
The bond measure encompasses the construction outreach program, the Construction Trades Council and the AFL/CIO. Numerous comment cards were handed in, including two from the offices Senator Tony Mendoza and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia.
Anna Perez, spoke on behalf of Mendoza, saying, “PLA’s are negotiated collective bargaining agreements and establish the terms and conditions for the employment of the life of the project between owner, construction manager or general contractor with one or more labor organizations. These are typically negotiated long term construction projects that benefit the community. The programs also result in increased minority participation and economic advancement for job training. PLA does provide structure and stability to projects, compliance with laws and workplace regulations of safety, health and equal employment opportunity.” The letter goes on to say that the use of PLA’s has been endorsed by the California Supreme Court and that he encourages the Board to ‘…consider the PLA.”
On behalf of Assemblymember Garcia, Edgar Estrada delivered a message regarding the PLA:
“I would like to encourage the Board to approve the PLA between the Community College district and the Los Angeles Buildings and Trade Councils. I am upset by the misinformation and intimidation waged by the opposition to this important agreement.
Garcia continued to state that the agreement would not take funding from the students, “This PLA will only affect a few projects and upon the completion it will be re-evaluated before moving forward on other projects. The advisory committee must work closely with labor to make sure that residents from the 14 cities and the district are given priority in hiring.”
Garcia urged the Board to approve the Agreement and encouraged labor to come to the table in good faith to negotiate with the Board.
A member of the Union addressed the Board about the impact of the PLA. “It means that our workers receive good wages, it brings Union expertise, craftsmanship and it saves taxpayers money.” Although he preferred to remain anonymous he stated, “Our goal is to do things right the first time. I am a resident of Cerritos and former student of the college. I want my tax dollars to the PLA.”
The PLA was presented to the board in April of 2014. Negotiating points included the hiring local residents living within a 25-mile radius of the college’s boundaries and to promote student success by creating opportunities for student employment in connection with the project.
The $89 million agreement is spread across three projects, the Field House, the Health and Wellness Center and the Health Science project.
The first goal is fill 10% of all positions using qualified district students, which would include graduates as well as those currently enrolled at the college.
The second goal is hiring 30% qualified residents and veterans of the district.
Lastly, only those living within 25 miles of the college should be hired; then and only then will positions be filled by qualified workers from Los Angeles and Orange counties.
All workers must be identified and qualified by local unions, which in turn have agreed to sponsor apprenticeship opportunities and programs.
A major goal for a PLA is to create a system that will allow the greatest employment of apprentices as permitted by law. The Unions have agreed to support the programs designed to increase competent workers and assist local residents to progress into apprenticeship programs. Unions have also agreed to work with the district to establish and maintain programs allowing interested persons to remain in the construction industry.
Trustee Bob Arthur commented, “I think my colleagues would agree there were some contentious meetings, numerous philosophical differences between the Board and Building Trade. The Board has stressed local hires. I make the motion to move forward with the PLA in the way it has been presented.” The motion was seconded.