In a fantastic article featured in this week’s Monday Morning Quarterback, the executive vice president of the San Diego AGC points out how San Diego Unified School District’s PSA hurts the taxpayers and the construction workers of San Diego:
San Diego Unified’s PSA does it Again….$9,756,000 Contract…..32 Out of Town Contractors!!!!
By Jim Ryan, Executive Vice President
Some of you may think that it would be difficult to come up with an article for MMQB each week….but it really isn’t….not when I have San Diego Unified’s union-only Project Stabilization Agreement (PSA) to write about. On March 2, 2012, SDUSD accepted bids for a project called Construct New Classroom Building at The Language Academy. I assume the budget was somewhere between $8,000,000-$12,000,000…..since the District has adopted the union-only PSA, they are purposely vague about the budget for their projects. They tend to move the budget to the bid in order to make sure everything comes in at or under budget!! So no question that this one was “in budget.”
Anyway…as we all know, our friends Lorena Gonzalez, head of the AFL-CIO, and Tom Lemmon, head of the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council, promised that this wonderful union-only PSA would provide local contractors with the contracts, and local craft workers with the construction jobs on the SDUSD projects. Well, it is not working out that way.
The Language Academy project is one of the largest projects bid under the union only PSA. It attracted 6 responsive general contractor bidders….3 from San Diego and 3 from the Los Angeles area. The low bidder ended up being a construction firm from Los Angeles. The General Contractor listed 32 subcontractors (per the listing law), and we have identified that 31 of those subcontractors are from the 11 county Los Angeles area. We were unable to find the location of one of the subcontractors, but since no one in our office recognizes the firm’s name, I assume this contractor was not from San Diego…..oh, and the number of listed subcontractors from San Diego County……..0!!!!! NONE!!!!
So if you are keeping score….that is 32 contractors (1 GC and 31 subcontractors) on this project from the Los Angeles area, and 1 probably from the Los Angeles area, and 0 from San Diego. Now Lorena and Tom… it appears that the PSA is not working on the local worker issue. We all know that very few craft workers will be hired locally…the L.A. contractors will bring their own employees to the project. Yes, yes, I know you both admire Los Angeles and how things work up there, so I guess you have decided that eliminating local contractors/workers and opening up the PSA projects to your friends in L.A. was the thing to do!!!
The reason this happened is that most contractors that build schools in San Diego have no intention of signing the PSA. The result is that one of the largest contracts in the program is going to be completed by a firm from outside the area. The L.A. contractor has every right to bid projects in San Diego. The problem here is that a public entity with its partners, the AFL-CIO and the Building Trades in San Diego, have established bid conditions that do not “fit” the San Diego construction industry. The conditions they have imposed through their union-only PSA are a better “fit” for contractors in Los Angeles. Amazing!
I know MMQB has a very large readership among public officials in San Diego County. Keep this article in your file and when Lorena and Tom come around selling their PSA/PLA local contractor/worker “snake oil,” show them this article. They will probably tell you that they have arranged with their friends in the State Legislature to annex San Diego into L.A. ….so technically the 32 contractors on this project are “local” in their minds.
Maybe Laurel and Hardy Consulting should do another study of how the PSA is meeting the School Board’s objectives. I’m sure they will come up with a “clever” answer…..right Trustee Barnett???