Local workers to be tapped to build Brentwood Library

by Kyle Szymanski, Staff Writer, Brentwood Press, March 2, 2016 

Brentwood residents are hopeful the city’s future library will benefit the community, but city leaders are poised to ensure it aids locals now, even while it’s being built.

The city council unanimously agreed to move forward with creating a project-labor agreement (PLA) for the library’s construction, which is expected to guarantee a number of Brentwood residents and returning veterans are brought on to complete the work. The PLA also includes other stipulations to ensure the work is finished on time and within budget.

“We can expect (the library) to come in on or under budget and be a quality project the community can say (is theirs), because we had local people that built it,” said Vice Mayor Joel Bryant.

PLA’s are pre-hire collective bargaining agreements negotiated with building-trade unions. They have been used with success by public and private entities in California since the 1930s, including by Brentwood during its 2009 civic center project. Benefits include standardized work rules, dispute resolution procedures, local hiring requirements and prohibitions against strikes and lockouts. The PLA used to complete the city’s civic center was responsible for 30 percent of the workforce (about 130 workers) comprised of local residents. Additionally, the project was completed without any accidents and under budget, which paid for the construction of the nearby parking garage.

“My belief is a project-labor agreement ensures a quality project,” said Councilman Gene Clare.

The exact stipulations of the library PLA are unknown, but its benefits are expected to mirror the one used in the civic center project. That project included opportunities for Brentwood residents and returning veterans to work on the construction, a competitive project bidding process, cost efficiency and reduced work delays.

The local-hire provision is carried out by mandating that unions call for available local workers ahead of those from outside the area, as opposed to traditional procedures, when workers are generally referred to contractors in chronological order, regardless of where they live. It’s also expected the Helmets to Hardhats program – a national, nonprofit program that connects National Guard, reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military service members with skilled training and career opportunities – will be used to give jobs to an indefinite number of veterans.

“There are a lot of career opportunities in the building trades,” said Nicholas Weathers, the program’s western regional representative. “It’s a very valuable and necessary thing.”

Several local union members packed the council chambers during discussion of the PLA last week, urging the council to move forward with the plan.

“Not only does it help with your local economy, there is a certain amount of natural pride that comes with building your own library or city hall,” said Bob Lilley, assistant business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 302.

City staff is expected to negotiate the PLA with the building trade unions before bringing back the full agreement to the council. Construction on the library is slated to begin in January or February of 2017.

Source: The Brentwood Press, March 2, 2016 
Updated May 9, 2016