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Project Labor Agreements Have Big Week in Wisconsin, California

A rendering of the new Milwaukee Bucks training facility, to be built under a PLA.

A rendering of the new Milwaukee Bucks training facility, to be built under a PLA.

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While a federal appeals court continues to meddle in New Jersey’s project labor agreement affairs, the worker-supportive deals a scoring victories elsewhere in the country.

In Wisconsin, building trades unions reached agreements on two projects related to the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena. Agreements were reached with J.P. Cullen & Sons to build the Bucks’ new training facility, and with J.H. Findorff & Son Inc. to build a parking structure north of the arena:

The Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council said Friday it signed the agreements that will both guarantee the contractors a supply of qualified trades workers and confirms contractors meet requirements for hiring from the city and county of Milwaukee, said Dan Bukiewicz, president of the trades council.

The Building & Construction Trades Council has achieved success in meeting city- and county-resident hiring requirements on other projects including the Northwestern Mutual office tower downtown, Bukiewicz said.

IBEW Local 494, which represents approximately 2400 members in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, Fond du Lac, and Sheboygan counties, expressed excitement over the agreements:

“These Project Labor Agreements are great for the Bucks, JP Cullen and Findorff and for the Construction Trades that will build these facilities,” said Dean Warsh, Business Manager of Local 494. “We are proud to be part of the Bucks projects that are fueling an economic resurgence, transforming Milwaukee’s skyline and creating thousands of new jobs across our city.”

California construction workers had similar cause for celebration. The city of Concord reached a PLA with the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council, an agreement which applies to city construction projects that cost more than $750,000:

The five-year agreement requires contractors to use union labor, prohibits strikes and lockouts, defines a dispute resolution process and encourages hiring veterans under the Helmets to Hardhats program.

The agreement also sets a goal of having Concord and Contra Costa County residents perform at least 25 percent of the work hours on each project. The trade unions will track the number of local workers and provide that information to the city.

Elsewhere in California, Monterey County’s Board of Supervisors received an update on the $78.2 million Interlake Tunnel project. A state grant tied to a PLA hangs in the balance:

The update pointed out the need for up to $5.6 million financing to pay for environmental and engineering work ahead of a tax assessment proceeding aimed at paying for the project depending on whether the supervisors agree to accept a $10 million state grant tied to a project labor agreement under legislation or go with a public-private partnership. The legislation was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday night, and may be limited to construction costs rather than upfront environmental and engineering expense.

The debate over how to approach the project is almost two years old.


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