Time for Counties and Cities to Commit to Local Hire Provisions

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors is poised to be a first in the central coast region by adopting a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for the Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC) hospital replacement project. The VCMC hospital project will be the single largest construction project by the County of Ventura in the coming decade. Over the course of the six year project, it is estimated to create as many as 2,000 jobs.

This is the time for action when faced with the opportunity to put Ventura County construction workers back to work and to train the next generation of diverse construction workers, including women, Latinos and African Americans in Ventura County.

Since the 1930’s, PLA’s have been the only effective public policy tool to hold contractors accountable to high employment standards and quality local hire jobs. PLA’s are enforceable policies that ensure that local people are hired and secondly, that local apprenticeship training programs provide young adults, returning veterans, the unemployed and low wage workers the job skills they need for a career with better pay.

The cities of Santa Paula and Oxnard have amongst the highest unemployment rates at 15 and 13 percent respectively, compared to 9 percent countywide. These communities also have amongst the highest concentration of Latinos and African American populations. The local PLA union apprenticeship training programs have the greatest capacity to train our local diverse workforce.

Since 2002, Contra Costa County, also a general law county like Ventura County, adopted a PLA policy for all county public construction projects over $1 million dollars. According to the Contra Costa County Internal Operations Committee PLA Policy Update report, “the use of PLA’s has resulted in no identifiable negative impacts on the overall cost or schedule for the delivery of County capital projects.” Contra Costa County has a zero core workforce policy, ensuring maximum local hire of county residents.

At this time, the County of Ventura has thirty-four (34) active public works contracts. Three out of five of these contracts are with contractors from outside Ventura County. When it comes to where our Ventura County taxpayer dollars are going, a startling 86 percent of all the current contracted funding goes to contractors from outside Ventura County!

It is only February 2012 and already, this amounts to more than $56 million dollars from Ventura County taxpayers that are going to contractors outside of Ventura County. With the overwhelming majority of local taxpayer funded public works contracts outside Ventura County, it is only fair and reasonable for the County to adopt a PLA policy to maximize the re-investment of County taxpayer dollars in the form of Ventura County residents being hired and having access to quality training programs.  

The means to maximize local taxpayers being hired for these jobs is through local, Ventura County-based unions. But it’s not all about the unions. Although local workers would sign-up for work through the local union, they do not have to be union members. Unlike private sector construction projects, under state law, it is illegal for a public works projects to hire only union members. The only “special interest” groups the PLA serves is our own local unemployed construction workers and our local taxpayers who want their money re-invested in the community through local hiring.

CAUSE , along with a diverse coalition of civic and community based organizations in throughout Ventura County, we want our qualified and trained local Ventura County construction workers to get back to work. PLA’s are time-tested, smart and effective policy tools to put Ventura County residents back to work.

Since 2008 when unemployment rates shot-up by tens of thousands of workers, local city, county and school district construction jobs have been filled by workers traveling from out of the county and even out of state. The County Board of Supervisors has a solution to put Ventura County people back to work and keep local tax-payer dollars in Ventura County.

Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC) of Ventura County, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Multicultural Consortium.

ACTION:

What: Ventura County Board of Supervisors Meeting

When: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 @ 8:30 a.m. 

We are at the final hour and County staff is ignoring the Board of Supervisors and instead listening to the lobbyists against a PLA. The Board of Supervisors who voted 4:1 for staff to bring back a PLA need to hear our public comment on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 8:30am for them to stay strong and adopt a PLA.

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