Even with a seemingly veto-proof city council vote, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer has rejected legislation mandating project labor agreements on all municipal projects worth more than $1 million.
A PLA is an agreement between the city and labor providers to meet certain working conditions. While union membership is not a requirement, unions helped negotiate the deal.
On Monday, Dyer vetoed the council’s 6-1 vote from Sept. 2. For Dyer to withstand a council override, he needs to flip two councilmembers. Only Garry Bredefeld voted against the PLA.
The council argued that the PLA will use local workers and apprentices, and assure that projects will be on time and on budget. Proponents say the agreements provide middle-class, union construction jobs.
In a news release, Dyer called the PLA “not inclusive, does not prioritize local hiring and local businesses and would not help broaden the City’s labor pool.”
Also in Politics 101:
- City dumping confusing agenda software.
- Council wants to offer Zoom participation as a post-pandemic option.
Dyer wants modifications to the PLA to prioritize local businesses. He said non-union shops would be at a disadvantage if the PLA remains as written.
“(PLA) only allows for union apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, which makes it harder for residents in qualified non-union apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs to gain construction industry skills. In addition, non-union employees who work for non-union local contractors would be required to pay into a union pension and health benefit system, but would never receive any of those benefits,” Dyer said.
Dyer called for exemptions for contractors who are located in Fresno, have workers or apprentices living in Fresno, and provide health care and other benefits.
Union: Use Separate Legislation
Chuck Riojas, executive director with the regional Building Trades Council, helped negotiate the PLA.
“I’m a little bit surprised by (the veto) being that originally passed with a 6-1 vote in support. But, you know, if he feels this is his next step, I mean, I can’t fault him for it. It is his decision,” Riojas said.
Riojas did not necessarily disagree with giving local contractors a preference or discount, but said that should be separate legislation from a PLA.
“The project labor agreement in and of itself gets accused of a lot of things. One of them being that it is anti-competition. My belief is that if you put a contractor, a local contractor preference into play, it would validate that statement. And I do everything I can to protect the integrity of project labor agreements,” Riojas said.
The council has 30 days to override the veto and needs five affirmative votes to retain the PLA.
After this story first published, the Fresno City Council scheduled a special meeting on Thursday to vote on overriding the veto. The agenda item will be heard any time after 9 a.m.
City Dumping Agenda Software After One Year
The roll-out of the city’s new agenda software and website was a rough transition. Many users, including city councilmembers, were confused on how to use the system.
After less than a year, the city is ready to dump the PrimeGov software and return to the previous system, Granicus.
“The software did not meet the needs of the City,” a staff report said without going into specifics.
Georgeanne White, the assistant city manager, elaborated, saying the PrimeGov software was difficult for the backend user.
“The approval process of agenda reports was very different in PrimeGov and did not meet the needs of the administration,” White said. Specifically, Granicus was easier for different departments to update the same file.
Granicus served as the city’s main agenda software from 2013 through 2021. The new three-year contract with that firm would be a shade under $300,000.
“I think Granicus will still have a similar ease of use for the public and media user with probably some just minor improvements and functionality, as with any new software update and any program,” White said.
The city entered into a $75,000 per year contract (with 3% annual increases) with PrimeGov last year. It went online this past May.
Council Eyes Online Participation as Option After the Pandemic
The council on Thursday, in a separate motion, will vote to make public online participation a permanent option. Pandemic-era regulations temporarily allow for the public to call or Zoom in.
The council’s current pandemic policy blocks the public from attending meetings in person.
When that ban ends, electronic participation will boost civic engagement, the council’s resolution states.