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L.A. Harbor Panel Set to Approve PLA That Would Create 6,000 Jobs, Put At-Risk Workers to Work

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners is expected to sign off on a five-year project labor agreement that would cover nearly $1.5 billion worth of construction projects at the Port of Los Angeles.

Of an estimated 6,000 jobs expected to be created through 2016, at least 30 percent would be set aside for local residents, according to the pending agreement between the port and the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council.

Another 10 percent of the jobs would go to so-called at-risk workers, including those who are homeless, unemployed or have a criminal record. Additionally, at least 20 percent of the work will be performed by union apprentices as a way to develop their construction careers.

“We think this is a great way to bring some of the benefits of our construction program back down to some of the local residents who are our neighbors and our partners in the development of our port,” said Michael Christensen, deputy executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

Richard Slawson, executive secretary of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, disputed the argument raised by opponents of the deal that it discriminates against non-unio contractors.

Such contractors make up 51 percent of the construction projects in which such labor agreements are in place, including projects with the city, county and Los Angeles Unified School District, Slawson said.

Oftentimes, Slawson said, contractors who are not required to work under project labor agreements often cut corners or find ways to cheat their workers out of pay and benefits.

“This is an agreement that will provide a level playing field for contractors,” Slawson said. “The PLA will end the possibility for anyone to cheat the system.”

The port’s pending agreement resembles a similar policy adopted in December by the Los Angeles City Council, covering five years of projects planned by the Department of Public Works.

The Port of Los Angeles entered into its first project labor agreement in 2002, when the harbor commission negotiated a deal with the Building and Trades Council for $80 million worth of construction at Pier 400. The Harbor Department has since negotiated six other separate agreements for port construction projects.


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