PALMDALE — The City Council on Tuesday approved changes to the city’s ordinances to better align them with the community workforce agreement put in place in October.
The community workforce agreement between the city and Los Angeles and Orange counties Building and Construction Trades Council and the Signatory Craft Councils and Unions allows for ongoing union training of local residents in the various crafts and trades and an emphasis on local hiring.
Before any workers are hired on a project, construction unions have bargaining rights to determine the wage rates and benefits of all employees working on the projects and to agree on provisions of the agreement.
The Trades Council consists of approximately 27 local unions including, but not limited to, masons, electricians, iron workers, laborers, roofers and carpenters.
The provisions of the agreement meet the some of the same goals as the Local Preference program established by the city in 2010, specifically where that program was found deficient in ensuring local hiring for construction projects, according to the staff report.
It does not apply to the program’s provisions for goods and services.
The Local Preference program has not been very successful in attracting local bidders for public works projects, Councilman Richard Loa said.
“I think it’s a fantastic thing that’s being proposed and I think it’s been effective around Southern California,” he said.
To that end, the Council approved an addition to the ordinance that exempts applicable contractor and subcontractor agreements from the Local Preference rules.
The change provides a better-defined process for which contractors can obtain local labor through the community workforce agreement, Assistant City Attorney Noel Doran said.
“It’s a different way of defining local preference,” he said.
Mayor Steve Hofbauer said the changes make for a much more robust Local Preference program.
In a separate vote, the Council also repealed the Palmdale Economic Opportunities Program, which was created in 2007 to encourage contractors on city public works projects to hire local residents, with a goal of 50% local hiring. However, there has been no appreciable increase in local labor on the applicable projects, according to the staff report.
It has, however, reduced the number of bids for projects, Doran said.
The program also conflicts with the community workforce agreement provisions, he said.
“I’m still very concerned about using local labor,” Councilwoman Laura Bettencourt said. “I want our people working from our cities.”
She cautioned about removing requirements for local hiring, but was assured the community workforce agreement has local hiring goals, as well, and it provides a way for contractors to acquire local labor.
Hofbauer also noted there are more training programs to provide a trained and qualified workforce locally than there were in 2007 when the Palmdale Economic Opportunities Program was created.
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