Watsonville will soon be the first city in the Monterey Bay area with a project labor agreement on public works projects more than $600,000. Those for the ordinance argued it would increase opportunities for local residents, especially apprenticeships. Opponents said it would narrow the bidding process and put nonunion contractors and workers at a disadvantage.
At the council meeting, union representatives ensured voters that their organizations were the ones to provide opportunities for local workers. Nonunion contractors could still bid on projects despite having a project labor agreement, as it is illegal to discriminate against nonunion contractors. They would just need to become signatories to the PLA for the duration of the project.
A Project Labor Agreement, or PLA, is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement that establishes basic terms and conditions for labor for everyone involved in the project. Under a PLA, contractors make exact bids, and costs are established for labor including wages and benefits. Public works PLAs also never restrict bidding to only union contractors. It is available to any contractor who will accept its terms.
For more information on the Watsonville decision, see full article here.