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Coast trustees to consider union construction deal

They will decide on a project labor agreement, which a task force recommends they reject.

May 13, 2013|By Jeremiah Dobruck

The Coast Community College District may soon put to rest an issue that's drawn threats of political retribution and hours of testimony from union and nonunion activists.

A task force has recommended the board of trustees reject crafting an overarching agreement with local unions that would govern how to spend about $700 million earmarked for construction.

Trustees will consider that recommendation at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the board room, 1370 Adams Ave., Costa Mesa.

The agreement, often called a project labor agreement, or PLA, would pre-negotiate hiring terms with Orange County unions for every infrastructure project funded by Measure M — $698 million of bonds that voters approved in November.

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Union members showed up in droves to trustees' first meeting in April, calling the agreement a way to ensure quality work, keep jobs local and give hiring preference to veterans or other desired demographics.

Detractors, such as the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn., said such an agreement is simply a giveaway to unions that increases construction costs.

At that meeting, the board split on whether or not to draft an agreement and begin negotiating with local unions.

Ultimately, members voted 3 to 2 to refer it to a task force that would weigh the pros and cons.

Trustees Jim Moreno and Jerry Patterson objected, saying the committee should begin crafting an agreement instead of just considering whether it's a good idea.

That task force met April 30 and almost unanimously recommended the board reject any overarching labor agreement for Measure M — with possible exceptions at Chancellor Andrew Jones' recommendation — according to board documents.

Patterson objected to that course of action, but the other five task force members — Trustee David Grant, Jones, other administrators and a member of the district's citizens oversight committee — overruled him.

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