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Update: The trustees approved the project labor agreement at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Original story:

State Center Community College District trustees are considering a project labor agreement for the West Fresno Campus that gives hiring priority for construction trades jobs to State Center-trained apprentices and graduates.

The agreement also gives priority for subcontracting jobs to businesses owned by State Center graduates, in what is called a “carve out.” Firms owned by State Center graduates would be eligible for contracts of under $600,000 and would not be subject to the PLA — in other words, those companies could hire nonunion workers.

Those contracts could not exceed 5% of the total, now estimated at $86.5 million.

The State Center agreement with the Fresno, Madera, Tulare, Kings Building and Construction Trades Council applies only to the West Fresno Campus project, a satellite campus of Fresno City College that will be built at Church Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard in southwest Fresno. Classes to be offered there include nursing and automotive technology.

A public hearing on the proposed agreement and board action is scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting, which will begin at 4:30 p.m. at Reedley College.

More Jobs For District Students, Graduates

The district also is establishing targeted goals for hiring, including:

  • Journey employees who are district residents will be hired for at least 50% of the project’s work hours, with preference to hiring State Center graduates. Journey employees are those who have completed their apprenticeship.
  • State Center apprentices will be hired for more than half of the work hours specified for apprentices.
  • Prime contractors will be encouraged to use subcontractors who are State Center graduates.

State Center graduates are defined as anyone who has completed a qualifying certificate program, earned an associate degree or completed 60 units through any State Center educational program, district spokeswoman Lucy Ruiz said.

Agreement Has Limits

There are some caveats to the proposed agreement that will affect potential hires, Ruiz said.

For example, she said, some unions have rules that would prohibit putting State Center graduates at the front of the hiring line, and some unions do not allow initiation fees to be waived for nonunion workers hired for a job covered by a project labor agreement.

In addition, under the PLA, contractors would be allowed to hire some “core” nonunion workers who would already be covered by the contractor’s healthcare plan. But the contractor would still have to pay into the union’s health and welfare trust funds for those workers, which would result in double coverage and increased health-care premium costs for the worker, Ruiz said.

If the worker decided to opt out of the contractor’s coverage and be covered only by the union’s plan, there would be a waiting period that could result in a gap in coverage, she said.

Similar To Fresno Unified PLA

The State Center agreement comes on the heels of a similar deal with the multi-county trades council that was recently approved by the Fresno Unified school board. That agreement is for building the Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary School in southeast Fresno.

In addition, Fresno Unified trustees approved a memorandum of understanding with the trades council that will apply to future projects. It specifies that the union will try to hire five new pre-apprentice and first-year apprentice program graduates per union per year for indentured apprenticeships, with training through State Center’s MC3 program.

Chuck Riojas, financial secretary/treasurer of the trades council, said the memorandum would help create a “pipeline” of students from public schools and community colleges to union trades jobs.

Critics say such agreements cause higher project costs and exclude nonunion workers, while proponents say that the no-strike clauses ensure that projects will be completed on time and don’t lead to higher costs.

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