An independent audit has determined that the Milpitas Library Construction Project is riddled with labor law violations, announced a non-profit construction trade association on Wednesday.

Associated Builders and Contractors, California Cooperation Committee (ABC‐CCC) Taxpayer Accountability Project announced that the audit has identified 56 separate labor compliance violations in the $39 million library project.

The City of Milpitas was required to provide contractors’ payroll records under the authority of the state’s Labor Code, which allows the public to obtain such records after the names and addresses of the employees are removed.  Of particular interest is that all contractors on the project were subject to the terms of a union Project Labor Agreement (PLA).  Construction unions have been aggressively promoting PLAs at local governments across California suggesting that the agreements will ensure contractors are following federal and state labor laws.

These violations raise questions regarding whether or not workers were paid the wages owed to them per California Prevailing Wage law.

“Local governments must ensure that any construction project is built using qualified workers and that those workers are paid the proper wages,” ABC‐CCC Executive Director Kevin D. Korenthal said.

“Contrary to the assertion of a top official at the City of Milpitas, the construction of the new Milpitas library and parking garage was not a ‘model of success’ at least not in terms of contractor compliance with state labor laws.” 

Milpitas Public Works Director Greg Armendariz wrote in a letter to the Building & Construction Trades Council that the project “was a model of success” and the Project Labor Agreement would help the construction industry work through this downturn in the economy.

Project Labor Agreements require that “union-only” contractors can bid or perform public works projects barring merit shop contractors – despite qualifications – from the opportunity to submit a project bid. The stated goal of the agreement is to ensure worker protections and project quality, as required by the Milpitas City Council.  

However, the audit reveals that the 56 violations were the result of a lack of oversight of apprentice workers, which jeopardizes job quality and puts employees at risk.

The audit’s findings have been reported to the Department of Industrial Relations for review and action. ABC‐CCC investigated the 56 violations and filed formal complaints on Sept. 14 with the California Labor Commissioner’s office.

ABC‐CCC is performing audits of public works projects statewide as part of The Taxpayer Accountability Project and releasing findings to ensure that public funds are efficiently and effectively managed.