The L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency on Thursday endorsed a proposal to require developers and contractors on all major redevelopment projects to hire workers through local union hiring halls.
The agency's board approved a policy that calls for the CRA to negotiate a so-called "project labor agreement" with local building trade unions. The agreement would require that contractors and developers on all projects receiving at least $1 million in public funds or for projects on agency-owned land to hire workers through union hiring halls. Non-union contractors would have to pay into a benefit fund primarily administered by the building trade unions, in addition to whatever benefits they provide their core employees.
Agency general manager Cecilia Estolano previously told the Business Journal that a PLA would ensure that subsidies given to redevelopment projects would flow down to locally hired workers.
The board's action, which must be approved by the Los Angeles City Council, was sharply criticized by non-union contractors. "We are disappointed that the agency saw it necessary to have a union-only agreement, and that they ignored our offer to help them draft language that wouldn't discriminate against open-shop contractors," said Kevin Korenthal, director of government affairs for the L.A./Ventura chapter of Associated Builders of California.
The CRA disputed Korenthal's assertions.
"This policy does not restrict contracting opportunities to union contractors. Typically 50-60% of the contractors working under local project labor agreements are non-union shops. Further, we never received an offer from ABC to help draft language, though we did meet with several non-union contractors as well as many other stakeholders to get feedback on the policy as it was being developed."
Union leaders welcomed the board's move. "The CRA commissioners have shown they recognize that this industry a vital engine for the future of our regional economy must be a source of both good, middle class careers and growth for the communities that the CRA is charged to serve," said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary and treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.
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