(Pinole, CA, December 15, 2015) Only two bidders responded when the cities of Pinole and Hercules sought bids for construction of a joint Pinole/Hercules wastewater treatment plant upgrade. The lowest bid is $4 million over the engineer¹s estimated project costs http://www.ci.pinole.ca.us/publicworks/docs/WPCP2015Project/Water%20Pollution%20NIB.pdf of $39 million.
The Contra Costa Taxpayers are asking Pinole city leaders to rebid the project without the controversial project labor agreement,² said President Jack Weir. The cities united about the need for the project but divided over the proposed use of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) that was not in the original construction plans. PLAs are highly controversial pre-contracting provisions advanced by labor unions which receive exclusive representation of all workers on a project including all funding for union dues and health and pension fund payments.
The PLA was originally requested by Pinole Councilmember Debbie Long on behalf of the Contra Costa County Building and Construction Trades Council but was also pushed aggressively by Councilman Pete Murray, a union electrician. Hercules leaders resisted until Pinole leaders announced intentions to advance the project with the PLA with or without agreement from Hercules.
According to Weir, PLA proponents insisted that the PLA would not add cost and that there would be plenty of bidders. Had even one bidder come in under the estimate we would not have a problem. Had 10 bidders offered proposals and all were high; we could maybe blame the engineer. With just two bidders and both well above the estimate, what can we blame except the objective evidence that contractors are not interested in working under a PLA when they have lots of places to work without PLAs?
The two bidders out of the eight who prequalified are Kiewit at $43million and Overaa at $49 million. Two of the largest EBMUD projects were built without PLAs - the $637M Freeport Regional Water Project and the $120M Walnut Creek-San Ramon Valley Improvement Project. Both were large, long-term, multi-craft and complex construction projects successfully completed and without labor strife.
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