Is Fresno’s Deal With Trades Union Meeting Local Hiring Goals? Numbers Say No. - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Is Fresno’s Deal With Trades Union Meeting Local Hiring Goals? Numbers Say No.



Only 14.5% of journeymen in the trades on a FAX facility improvement project were local hires. The city's goal was 50%. (GV Wire File)
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The city of Fresno’s goal for locals to be hired on city projects is missing the mark.

In 2021, the city and the building trade unions signed a community workforce agreement (also known as a Project Labor Agreement) which requires among other things, local hires for most city construction projects of more than $1 million.

In an annual presentation to the Fresno City Council, Public Works Director Scott Mozier reviewed the hiring numbers for active PLA projects. The goal where “unions agreed to exert their utmost efforts,” the staff report said, was to hire at least 50% locals for journey-level projects; 55% locals for apprentice-level projects; and 30% by new local apprentices.

Kelly Yost, the city’s construction manager, explaining the low numbers said repeatedly, “It’s new.”

Some councilmembers didn’t read the numbers that way.

This is off to a great start. I’m very, very impressed with these numbers going forward,” Councilman Mike Karbassi said. “This is clearly a good policy.”

“It’s working. It’s doing what we tasked the work to do, which is hire local,” Miguel Arias said.

It took City Manager Georgeanne White to tell the councilmembers they were emperors without clothes.

I feel like some of the comments leave the impression like this is 100% going great, there’s no room for improvement. And I think the numbers definitely show there is a little bit of room for improvement,” White said.

(GV Wire/Paul Marshall)

Also in Politics 101 …

  • What representatives from contractors and the union said.
  • City takes aim at red light runners.
  • L’Chaim! It’s Jewish American Heritage Month.

Contractors, Union React

Chuck Riojas, executive director of the regional Building and Construction Trades Council, helped negotiate the PLA. The goal, he said, was to increase opportunities for new apprentices.

While he’s satisfied with the projects providing experience, he acknowledges the growing pains. One reason the journeyman figure could be low is that contractors bring in their own core group of workers.

“We don’t want to control their work process, we can only ask that they do so. And we’re not putting it all on the contractors. It’s a learning process,” Riojas said.

He said the numbers next year should be more in line with goals.

“You’re changing the way people are doing business for decades. Hopefully, they get the same desire that we had when we negotiated it to put the local people out to work first,” Riojas said.

Rex Hime with the Western Electrical Contractors Association criticized the PLA process.

“I want to make this very clear we’re not anti-union. We’re just pro-open competition. WECA doesn’t take issue with competition on bids, but we take issue with government entities tipping the scale and discriminating against local living workers who want to do jobs for the city of Fresno,” Hime said.

Hime noted the low numbers of local workers.

“Maybe if we’re having so much trouble putting the people of Fresno to work on city of Fresno projects, we should seriously consider raising the threshold for $1 million to $20 million so we can put the local people of Fresno to work,” Himes said.

Safe Streets Bidding Delayed

The council tabled an item at Thursday’s meeting to reject bids on a safe streets project for John Muir Elementary School in west Fresno. The reason — none of the three bidders included Project Labor Agreement plans.

One bidder said that he didn’t include the PLA language “because it wasn’t included in the bid documents provided to us by the city.”

“We obviously don’t like having bids rejected that we have spent time and resources putting together, but it happens sometimes and it’s just part of the business,” said Curtis Short, owner of Avison Construction, of Madera.

The city will consider rejecting the bids at its May 25 meeting.

Red Light Runners Study Discussion Delayed

Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi wants to put an end to red-light runners, but a vote to discuss was pushed back until May 25.

In two weeks, the city council will hear a resolution to conduct a traffic safety assessment to address the 10 worst intersections.

While a methodology is not included in the motion, the city manager will report back to the city council on the worst intersections, options for improvement, potential use for traffic signal cameras, traffic cops, “or any other means to combat red light runners.”

Could red light cameras return?

“First, technology solutions are just one element of a potential solution. Second, the old cameras were installed at the busiest intersections in Fresno for the purpose of making money. If we use cameras, they would be located at the intersections which are the most dangerous, resulting in collisions and injuries/deaths,” Karbassi told Politics 101 before the vote.

(Update, 5/11/23: the original story reported the red light motion passed 7-0 on the consent agenda. It was pulled by Karbassi until May 25.)

Fresno Honors Jewish American Heritage Month

At a time when Jewish Americans are experiencing greater levels of antisemitism, the city recognized May as Jewish American Heritage Month.

Rabbi Rick Winer of Temple Beth Israel and Rabbi Levy Zirkind of Chabad Fresno accepted the honor at Thursday’s council meeting.

Associated Press reports that more than 500 antisemitic acts targeting Jewish people, including assault, vandalism, and harassment, were committed in California last year, an increase of more than 40% from 2021, according to a new Anti-Defamation League report.

Mayor Jerry Dyer participated in the ceremony, talking about a recent trip to Israel. When asked who the highest-ranking Jew in his administration, Dyer said he is “checking.”

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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