We’re all for leveling the playing field and providing fair and honest competition.

So the PublicCEO Editorial Board was pleased when the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in November to approve a resolution that will prohibit the requirement of labor agreements on county projects.

Author of the O.C. ordinance, Professor of Law Mario Mainero, is the senior policy adviser for County Supervisor John Moorlach. He said the major point of not allowing Project Labor Agreements was simple: to level the playing field.

“I think that’s just better policy,” Mainero said in a phone interview at the time. “Just like everyone else in the market, be competitive and come up with the best price and you’re going to get the job.”

Orange County’s banning of Project Labor Agreements and Other Anti-Competitive Measures is the winner of PublicCEO’s Ordinance Of The Year Award, as part of PublicCEO’s First Annual Local Government Awards.

Orange County is the fifth largest and perhaps the most famous county in the country, and this creates a powerful precedent for other local governments in California and throughout the United States.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Nov. 3 to enact a county ordinance that bans the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and other anti-competitive bidding requirements on county-funded projects, unless required by state and federal law. 

By inserting the prohibition in the county code, the Board of Supervisors established a policy that will require significant deliberation and two votes of the board to reverse in the future.

The ordinance is especially significant because the Orange County Board of Supervisors had voted 3-0 with two abstentions in January 2000 to require contractors to sign a PLA for virtually all county construction for the next six years. 

Business groups worked diligently to change the sentiment of the Board of Supervisors through lobbying and elections, and in December 2004 the board voted 4-1 not to continue the policy when it expired.

Enactment of an ordinance requires two votes.  At both the Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 meetings, construction union leaders and their members packed the meeting room and demonstrated outside the building with rat balloons.  Numerous union officials and other speakers (including ACORN) railed against the Board of Supervisors.  Merit Shop associations and contractors also brought several speakers and numerous workers.

Further Information:

Join us in congratulating Orange County on this award in local government.

Other Winners Announced So Far:

Jan. 26: The Public Information Officer Of The Year
Jan. 27: The Public Works Project Of The Year

Stay tuned this week for more Local Government Awards from PublicCEO.com. For more information, please contact the editor, James Spencer, at


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