Contra Costa Community College District revives debate over which companies it hires for major construction projects

 
Mercury News
 
The Contra Costa Community College District is bringing back a contentious debate over which companies it hires for major construction projects.

Trustees on Wednesday night will try to decide what to do with an agreement the district started negotiating five years ago but sputtered to a halt before it could take effect. The contract, known as a project labor agreement, would have set strict rules limiting construction to local workers and requiring that contractors pay prevailing wages.

The revived issue has set off a heated debate leading up to the meeting in Martinez.

Supporters -- including unions and Democratic legislators -- have argued that the agreement would ensure fair pay, skilled labor and safe conditions. Opponents, including groups representing nonunion contractors, say the contract would discourage bidding by most contractors and would cost taxpayers more. The document does not stipulate that the work must be performed by unionized workers, but it holds all contractors to the same labor conditions.

"There's not one documented case in Contra Costa County where a (project labor agreement) has cost more," said Greg Feere, director of the Contra Costa Building Trades Council, a union group.
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