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American Shipper

Port of LA approves 10-year project labor agreement

The project labor agreement (PLA) is a port-wide contract that establishes wages, benefits and work rules for laborers hired to build designated port projects.

   The Port of Los Angeles’ harbor board on Sept. 7 unanimously approved a 10-year agreement that it says ensures the quality and timely construction of facilities and large-scale infrastructure projects at the port by ensuring that there will be no strikes or other disruptions by organized labor.
   The project labor agreement (PLA) is a port-wide contract between the POLA and the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council that establishes wages, benefits and work rules for those hired to build designated port projects. It ensures that all workers – electricians, pipefitters, iron workers, cement masons, laborers and others – earn prevailing wages set forth in the bargaining agreements of all participating union locals.
   The agreement, which was approved on a 4-0 vote, with Commissioner Patricia Castellanos absent, initially covers a list of 38 planned and proposed infrastructure projects that represent an investment of about $780 million in wharf improvements, rail enhancements, shore power upgrades, marine oil terminal modernization and waterfront projects. The port said it expects to add more projects over the life of the agreement.
   The PLA also reinvests in the local economy, in part by requiring that 30 percent of the jobs and apprenticeships generated by most major port construction projects go to residents of the harbor area and high-unemployment communities in Los Angeles.
   This is actually the second PLA between the port and Building Trades Council; a previous five-year agreement with similar provisions expired earlier this year.
   “This PLA builds on the previous five-year agreement,” said Ron Miller, Executive Secretary of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents over 100,000 trade and craft workers. “I’m proud to say we are extending this agreement and doubling its term to 10 years. This is a huge vote of confidence in the men and women of our affiliated local unions.”
   Mark Rose, an assistant chief harbor engineer with the Port of LA’s construction division, told American Shipper that the term was increased to 10 years because the port was very happy with how the previous agreement unfolded.
   “Five years went by really quick,” Rose explained. “We just thought we’d improve efficiency by stretching it out for 10 years, and we don’t have to put that effort into renegotiating something that’s working.”
   The port said that under the previous agreement, 20 major construction projects were completed on time and within budget, and it is on track to do the same with six remaining projects. The projects already launched under the previous PLA included a total investment of nearly $848 million and includes the Berth 200 Rail Yard, TraPac Container Terminal Project, the South Wilmington Grade Separation, and waterfront improvements.
   “Skilled workers and apprentices from our own communities provided approximately one third of labor to build these projects,” Port Executive Director Gene Seroka said of the PLA. “We’re eager to keep that momentum going so the Port of Los Angeles remains a modern, competitive and sustainable gateway that strengthens our communities while powering the nation’s economy.”
   Since the agreement covers more than three years, it is still subject to final approval by the Los Angeles City Council. If approved, the PLA is expected to take effect within the next three to six months, according to the port.

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