In September, PublicCEO broke the news that an independent audit had determined that the Milpitas Library Construction Project was riddled with labor law violations.
After the story ran, I received an irate e-mail from a very high-level public official in Milpitas, who was upset about our article and said that PublicCEO’s information was not accurate.
The official asked, “Do you realize we had a Project Labor Agreement?” and said that Milpitas believed no violations existed on the project. I immediately followed up with this official in regards to the e-mail, but never heard back.
Now, here’s the latest on the issue.
A statement (see below) was released on Friday, Jan. 8 reporting that the California Department of Industrial Relations has officially notified eight contractors that they violated state labor laws during construction of the $39 million Milpitas City Library Project.
In the other instances, while there were no violations, it was due to the fact that the contractors had not provided records as required. This would be like filing an incomplete tax return. Shouldn’t these have been filed in the first place, without the state having to make these contractors be accountable?
The reality of the issue here is that Project Labor Agreements don’t demand accountability as they claim.
Here is a copy of the press release that was issued on Jan. 8:
State Agency Confirms Milpitas Library Construction Project Violated Contractors’ Labor Law
State Notifies Contractors of Violations Associated with $39 Million Public Works Project
(Milpitas, CA, January 8, 2010) – Responding to the findings of a labor compliance audit conducted by the Taxpayer Accountability Project of Associated Builders and Contractors, California Cooperation Committee (ABC-CCC), the California Department of Industrial Relations has officially notified eight contractors that they violated state labor laws during construction of the $39 million Milpitas City Library Project. See the letters issued by the state at this link: Milpitas Library Labor Violations.
“Staff for the City of Milpitas reacted angrily and defensively when the Taxpayer Accountability Project submitted its findings to the Labor Commissioner in September,” Kevin D. Korenthal, executive director of Associated Builders and Contractors, California Cooperation Committee said.
“The results of the independent audit were validated by the State and we are pleased that action has been taken to protect the public trust and ensure accountability by contractors on public works projects.”
Confirmed violations by contractors on the Milpitas Library Project include lack of proper ratios of journeymen to apprentices and improper use of apprentices. These infractions are significant as they could have contributed to project quality and worker safety issues. Furthermore, many contractors working on the project failed to provide records as required by law until after the audit and subsequent state inquiry.
Contractors confirmed in violation include five based in the South Bay, two others based in the Bay Area, and one based in the state of New York: Milpitas Library Labor Violations.
“Additionally, based upon the findings of ABC-CCC’s independent audit, we have reason to believe that our conclusions only scratched the surface of how labor laws were violated on this project,” Korenthal added. “Clearly, City of Milpitas officials neglected to scrutinize the project following the City Council’s vote to give construction unions a monopoly by virtue of a Project Labor Agreement.”
In October 2008, the Public Works Director for the City of Milpitas sent a letter to Neil Struthers, head of the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, boasting of the success of the library project and advocating for another union agreement to be enacted in the construction of a proposed Senior Center. These assertions are effectively disproved as a result of ABC-CCC’s audit and today’s announcement.