Cuesta College rejects labor deal sought by unions
March 6, 2015
The Cuesta College Board of Trustees has unanimously rejected a proposed agreement that would have forced contractors to hire union workers or to pay extra for the use on non-union labor to construct campus renovation projects.
In November, San Luis Obispo County voters approved a $275 million bond measure for Cuesta College campus construction and remodeling projects. After the bond measure passed, union leaders asked Cuesta College trustees to enter a project labor agreement (PLA) that would require contractors to follow a strict set of rules when hiring and paying workers.
Union representatives and their supporters said the PLA would ensure that contractors hire better trained workers. They also argued that the PLA would increase the likelihood of the contractors completing the construction projects on time and within the budget.
But, critics argued that signing a PLA would increase the costs of Cuesta’s projects because it would shrink the labor pool and reroute projects funds to union management.
Opponents of the PLA contended that the agreement would assure the jobs go to union workers by giving union bosses control over the hiring process. Critics also stated that PLAs require non-union workers to pay into union health and retirement plans, likely without receiving any returns on their contributions.
Cuesta College is already required by state law to pay prevailing wage, regardless of whether or not its contractors use union workers.
More than 90 percent of local construction workers do not belong to a union, said Leslie Hall, the executive director of the San Luis Obispo County Builders Exchange.