Today, the San Diego Unified School District board meets to discuss the extension of its project stabilization agreement. Looking at the positive outcomes so far, I’m hopeful that the San Diego Unified School District Board will renew this important policy that brings such important economic benefits to local taxpayers.
As I’ve written before in my columns, a project stabilization agreement, more commonly called a project labor agreement, is a contract between the owner or managing entity of a construction project or a collection of associated projects and a set of labor unions.
In many ways it acts like a “job-site constitution,” establishing worksite conditions, project execution and protocol to resolve labor disputes without resorting to labor strikes and employer lockouts. Aside from just the economic and time savings benefits of this arrangement, most PLAs/PSAs include community work force goals that increase access to construction jobs for veterans, local residents, disadvantaged workers and small businesses.
SDUSD negotiated its PSA to modernize schools under Proposition S with several goals in mind. By setting worksite standards, it intended to help SDUSD stabilize construction costs and its work force supply. Beyond these economic goals, it also set out to give SDUSD control over what type of jobs to create on the project. The PSA includes targets to create good, local jobs, particularly in ZIP codes with high unemployment.
Now, the results from the past two years are in. According to an independent study that the San Diego Unified School District just released, so far the PSA has produced the benefits it promised without impacting the cost or quality of the construction. The study found:
This said, there are powerful lobby groups on the other side that would not like to see this passed. I think it’s worthwhile to clear up some of the false information that they will most likely bring up:
The Los Angeles Unified School District PLA took five years to stabilize. In just two years, the San Diego Unified School District project stabilization agreement is already working well. Renewing the PSA is a great step to help the SDUSD control the outcomes of its construction projects, while creating benefits for local taxpayers at the same time.
Lemmon is the business manager of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO.