Costa Mesa Confidential
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Councilmembers Give City Contracts to Groups Who Funded Their Campaigns

The type of agreement has been banned in 28 states, and could leave many Costa Mesans out of a job

The Costa Mesa City Council awarded over $200 million in city improvement projects to union only contractors, led by Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Marr and Mayor John Stephens. Councilmembers supporting the measure, including Arles Reynolds, have received over $165,000 in campaign contributions from unions.

The recently approved Project Labor Agreement (PLA) allows unions to have priority on all major capital improvement projects in Costa Mesa for the next 5 years. Residents voiced concerns the council’s agreement to the contract would cater to the special interest groups that funded some of the councilmembers’ races.

This agreement could reduce opportunities for Costa Mesa residents by discriminating against minorities in the local community. Studies indicate that on average fewer minorities are union workers. 

In exchange for the five year contract, unions must make “best efforts” to hire local veterans and apprentices as the workforce. The “best efforts” phrase has yet to outline clear performance indicators for the $200 million contract. The city attorney stated that the contract simply implies “good faith” to meet the obligations of the contract.

Project labor agreements similar to this have been banned in 28 states. This is due to the strict limitations that eliminate competition. Additionally, union workers only comprise 16% of the workforce; meaning 84% of the local Costa Mesa workforce could be excluded from working on these projects.

Residents and taxpayers voiced concerns that they are getting a bad contract and our city leadership is catered only to special interests without regard for cost or fairness to our local workforce.

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