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Fresno’s Ban on Project Labor Agreements, Ignorance of Prevailing Wage Reversed by City Council

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The Fresno City Council has voted to approve two measures which will repeal its ban on Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and require the prevailing wage to be paid on municipal public works projects.  The two measures bring the city in line with new state bills — SB 922, SB 829, and SB 7 — which boost standards on publicly funded construction projects.  SB 7, specifically, prohibits funding from going to cities that do not comply with the state’s prevailing wage laws, so Fresno was faced with the choice of complying or losing funding.

Following the vote, State Building and Construction Trades Council President Robbie Hunter commented:

Because of SB 922, SB 829, and SB 7, city councils throughout the state are reversing barriers on paying prevailing wage and project labor agreements, which provide a highly skilled, streamlined workforce, with decent wages, apprenticeship training and well-built public works projects that benefit the entire community. The Building Trades’ united legislative advocacy has resulted in laws like this that protect taxpayers, provide for better projects, and drive the economy.”

Fresno joins a growing number of charter cities across California which are rushing to change their laws in order to comply with SB 7 before it goes into effect on January 1st, 2015.  The votes represent an embarrassment for anti-worker lobbies such as the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), which spent the past decade trying to ban PLAs and persuade voters to make their towns charter cities so that they could skirt prevailing wage laws and bring in low-paying, non-union contractors.  

In a final attempt to save face, the ABC wrote the Fresno City Council “in support of the PLA measure, expressing hope that a lawsuit seeking to overturn our legislation will succeed, resulting in reinstatement of the PLA ban.”  As noted in the ABC letter, the Fresno PLA ban, enacted in 2000, was the first in the nation.


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